Why older lesbian visibility is so essential

Raga and Nicola

Meet Raga and Nicola, one of the first lesbian couples to move into London’s Tonic Housing, the UK’s first LGBTQ+ affirming retirement community.

Speaking to PinkNews, the couple reflects on their relationship, how Raga’s family reacted to her coming out later in life and the importance of lesbian visibility and representation.

Raga – who came out aged 50 – says being her authentic self has “really liberated” her.

“If you get an opportunity to live your life fully, freely: do it,” she said.

However, Raga’s coming out experience has not been entirely positive as she said her mother’s reaction was less than friendly and did not take kindly to a same-sex relationship.

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For the couple, lesbian representation is important because “if you cannot see something in front of you, how can you be allowed to be that person?”

“I didn’t see any lesbians growing up,” Raga said, “so I married a man.”

She explained it was not until she saw lesbians around her that she was able to accept herself, come out and be in an openly lesbian relationship.

Nicola also said she had little to no representation growing up, perhaps just a couple of films here and there.

“No same-sex marriage, no civil unions, homosexuality was still illegal,”she said.

“Lesbians were so invisible that they weren’t even included in the Homosexuality Bill”, she added.

“We need to be more visible, and when people start to realise ‘oh, those lesbians next door they’re like everybody else.’”

As their relationship blossomed, Raga and Nicola were led towards Tonic Housing, where they received nothing but support.

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“Life is very strange…somehow it has made us become a part of history, and I look at it and think ‘gosh, I’m an Indian woman, I shouldn’t even be gay as per my community, and here I am, a lesbian with a woman’”, Raga reflected.

“And we’re the first lesbian couple in the UK living at Tonic Housing, I mean wow.”

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