Domino Pateman is no stranger to women’s issues. As Arts Co-ordinator at Southbank Centre in London, she works alongside artistic Director Jude Kelly on special projects such as the fantastic Women of the World festival aka WOW.
Last week she attended Tatler’s much talked about Lesbian Ball, which editor Kate Reardon stated her aim as being an attempt to “normalise lesbians in high society”. Domino was among the glamorous and accomplished women, both gay, straight, whatever to get an invite.
Halifax born and with achievements under her belt such as once being the UK’s youngest pilot, Twin asked Domino about the event and whether she feels women are defined by their sexuality…
When did you receive your invitation and were you surprised by the premise of the evening?
I received the invitation about 6 weeks ago via email. The invite stated who the dinner was to celebrate and that it was ‘no boys allowed’. I assumed I’d been invited through my work on Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival. Which in a way, I was – Tamsin Omond, one of the girls profiled in Tatler, I’d invited to speak at the festival in 2011.
Do you think there is a problem with the way gay women are shown in society – is there is a need to ‘normalise’ lesbianism?
Yes, definitely. There isn’t enough variety in the way women in general, let alone gay women, are shown in society or portrayed in the media, films, tv, cartoons, magazines etc. Young women need role models – they need to be able to point at someone who inspires them and to say ‘i can be like that’. If there are no lesbians in the public eye or portrayed positively in the media, it’s even harder for gay women to identify a role model. Being a lesbian is as normal as not being a lesbian so any form of normalisation is necessary until it’s no longer necessary.
How helpful is it for gay women to have champions in the shape of glossy mags and glamorous dinners?
It’s helpful. I imagine a girl sat at home in West London (either that or at the dentists) who has just started to feel as if she might be a lesbian but daren’t say anything picking up the August issue of Tatler, seeing London’s smartest and lovliest lesbians and thinking ‘wow, maybe it’s not so bad that I fancy girls’. There are lots of influential and well-connected people who read Tatler and get invited to glamorous dinners and if championing lesbians in this way can go some way to further normalise lesbians to them and the people they influence than that’s great.
How do you feel about being defined by your sexuality?
I don’t think I am defined by my sexuality so I don’t know. People should be able to choose how they are defined. Some might want to be defined by their sexuality, some might not.
Why do you think it’s so much more acceptable to be rude about gay women, than gay men publicly? I’m thinking about AA Gill here…
I’m not sure. There are lots of things that men do that are more accepted just because they’re men and being gay isn’t an exception – it probably goes all the way back to prehistoric times when men were stronger than women. I think there’s probably something in there about the legitimacy that a man is considered to bring with him. I heard a theory on the radio once about how a man might be gay but at least he’s a man, so he loses on one count but wins on another. A woman is gay AND a woman so she loses on both. Maybe that’s why. Also in extreme cases maybe people are terrified of lesbians in case they take over the world and eradicate the need for men forever
Have you personally suffered prejudice in regards to your sexuality?
How was the night for you?
It was really fun. It would have been nice if there had been some speeches to explain the reason for the evening and to introduce the women who were being profiled, but other than that it was great.
What was your highlight of the evening?
Milling about. Recruiting people for the Women of the World festival. Making new bezzies.
What did you wear?
Comme de garcons dress and balenciaga shoes.
What does the future look like?
Some people will only fancy boys, some people will only fancy girls, some people won’t fancy anyone, some people will fancy boys and girls, some people won’t care what gender the person they fancy is. Just the same as now, but in the future it will all be whatevs. That and probably a constant stream of computer glitches that will make all our lives hell.