A week ago, a grey plastic package arrived in the post. I ripped it open to find my first subscriber copy of Diva magazine. I suppose it is a sad reflection of our times that it is necessary for the magazine to be sent out in such packaging, in a way that my copies of Private Eye are not. But shame and stigma are still the lived experience of many LGBT people. And this is something I can relate to. It was seven years ago that I bought my first copy, blushing furiously as I approached the till. There are still shops where DIVA is tucked away far from the women’s lifestyle magazines where it really belongs
I soon fell in love with the magazine, with its varied and interesting features, its high quality of writing, (OK they are still to accept a pitch from me but I live in hope!) , but above all for its generosity and inclusiveness. For DIVA is both bi- and trans- positive. This stance, particularly on trans issues, has brought it a lot of criticism, and has alienated some long-term readers, but the editors, Jane Czyzelska and for the last year or so, Carrie Lyell, have stuck to their guns. And then there were the amazing sex issues. I have kept all of these, there were hot photoshoots, one of which inspired a story on this blog, there was flash fiction, there were features from which I learnt so much. For a time, the amazing Anna Sansom was sex editor. Anna is the best friend I have never met. We have been engaging online for over 7 years now, she encouraged in the early days of my blog, and was a virtual ear for my experiences as I belatedly discovered myself sexually and began to explore BDSM. It was Anna who made me aware of Fetlife. And Anna, if you are reading this, 2020 will be the year we finally meet. If you don’t make it to Eroticon I will be heading down your way. It is high time we had coffee and cake together, or maybe gin?
Anna gets a mention in the current issue because the sex edition is back after an absence of a few years. And it is a brilliant issue, not least because it includes the sexual experiences of those for whom sex is unusually problematic, transgender, genderqueer and intersex people. There was much that I can relate to my own experience. Reading it, I became aware of how much I have grown in the few years and how much Diva has helped me on my journey. I feel genuine excitement when I open a new issue, I feel too a sense of belonging to a community of amazing women.
The only downside is that I tend to read it in one sitting and then feel empty until the next one arrives. If you have never read it, do. You will not regret it, however you identify in terms of gender or sexuality. For as they headlined my letter many years ago,
“Diva is for everyone.”