Today in the UK, Google is celebrating the legacy of lesbian reporter, actress and activist Jackie Forster with a Google Doodle in honor of what would have been her 91st birthday.
Under her maiden name of Jacqueline Mackenzie, Forster starred in West End productions the 1950s and in films like 1952’s You’re Only Young Twice and the 1956 noir thriller You Can’t Escape. While she enjoyed being in front of the camera, she preferred reporting—her coverage of Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier and her lectures in America made her something of a household name in England.
Garner had her first relationship with a woman while on a lecture tour in Savannah, Georgia. Despite her attraction to women, she married novelist Peter Forster in 1958, though their marriage soon disintegrated and they divorced in 1962.
“I didn’t see myself as being a lesbian, or her, because I didn’t look as I imagined they did, and nor did she,” Forster told Jill Gardner in From the Closet to the Screen of her first affair. “We weren’t short back and sides and natty gent’s suiting. I got the image from The Well of Loneliness, like we all did. There were drug stores around the States, with these pulp books, lurid stories about lesbians who smoked cigars and had orgies with young girls. I thought, where are these women? We never met anyone we knew were lesbians. There were no other books that I found about lesbians, no films that we ever saw: nothing at all.”
Not long after long Forster became a gay activist, coming out publicly in 1969 at Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner. (“You are looking at a roaring dyke,” she declared.) Forster joined Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) and, in 1971, marched in the first Pride parade in the UK. She launched Sappho, a lesbian publication that stayed in print until 1981.
Forster used her public persona to speak about lesbian rights, as well as the greater LGBT community. She regularly appeared on TV to defend homosexuality. In 1995, she was part of We Recruit, a Channel 4 documentary addressing the work of the Lesbian Avengers.
Her last TV appearance was in 1997 as part of the mini-series The Day That Changed My Life—she detailed her life in a segment called “From High Heels To Sensible Shoes.” She died from emphysema in 1998 at age 71.
“[Jackie] had a fund of stories,” producer Stephen Leslie told The Independent. “I think sometimes she liked to make a scene; I think she enjoyed being the centre of attention. But she was also the fount of a hell of a lot of knowledge and wisdom.”
Forster was also a staunch proponent of lesbian motherhood, pushing for the right to artificial insemination by anonymous donors. In 1981, she co-wrote Rocking The Cradle with Gill Hanscombe.
Today's #googledoodle celebrates the life of English news reporter and gay rights activist, Jackie Forster, who was born on this day in 1926. Rocking the Cradle: Lesbian Mothers, co-written by Jackie in 1982, looks at the many different ways lesbian mothers conceived and raised their children against the background of a hostile society (#wellcomelibrary ref.: M23265) #jackieforster #google #britishhistory #lgbt #gayrights #lesbianrights #motherhood #activism #pride #onthisday #otd #librariesofinstagram
“She has noble instincts and the noblest of them is to fight for injustice of any kind,” Hanscombe told The Independent, “not just for lesbians.”