With council run services banned from promoting or supporting LGBTIQ+, The Leeds University Gay and Lesbian Society provided other services to help.
The Leeds Gay Switchboard was started in 1979. Aimed at teenagers and young adults, it provided much needed support. Anyone could call the number to speak to someone who identified as LGBTIQ+ and access advice and support, or just have a chat. If they wanted, a representative from the Gay Switchboard would meet them in person. Many young people who identified as LGBTIQ+ were given support in this way, and discovered that there was a whole community of people they could be part of if they wanted to.
The Women’s Minibus was set up by the University of Leeds. The University had noticed a drop in applications from women in the wake of the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ - serial killer Peter Sutcliffe who murdered 13 women in the city between 1975 and 1980. They wanted women to feel that they could go out at night and have a good time and know that they would get home safely.
Jackie from Intentional Promotions was one of the volunteer drivers of the Women’s Minibus She used the opportunity to further raise awareness about the LGBTIQ+ community with the aim of increasing acceptance and building support. Jackie remembers setting off in the bus each time and giving a speech:
'I outed myself every single time – yes, I’m Jackie, I’m a lesbian and I’m probably the first one you’ve met. If not, wow, that’s amazing’,
and then I’d just say, ‘this is all about the fact that when you grow up, and if you get married and have children and one of your kids turns out to be gay, you’ve already met somebody that’s got a super, great life, and marvellous and confident and your kids can be that too'.
With Jackie advocating for lesbian and gay rights, word got around that the Women’s Minibus was a safe place for lesbians. Jackie suddenly found that female students were waiting to get on her bus so that they could talk.
'I didn’t expect then for people to turn round with such vulnerable emotions and to share with me. But they did, repeatedly. But there was nobody else to talk to, and that was the key thing.' Jackie Clayton, Women’s Minibus Volunteer Driver