Interview with Annie, 17, Christian. Women, Risk & AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LJH12)
Anonymised transcript of interview with Annie, who is in a long-distance relationship with a man she met while on holiday in the Caribbean. The relationship is based on friendship, rather than sexual intimacy. They have discussed having sex together, but Annie would like to wait until she is in a more secure relationship. She had a fairly well-rounded sex education from school, friends and family, which she has found helpful. Annie doesn't consider herself to be at any real risk of AIDS at the moment, but has some unclear views on navigating condom use in future relationships. She is quite focused on her education and career at the moment, and would like to avoid pregnancy until later in life, perhaps due to her mum having her at a young age. Annie has been brought up in a strict, protective Christian background, but has regained some independence, for instance through her casual alcohol use. She holds some particularly strong sexist and homophobic views surrounding AIDS, sexual reputation and double standards, though neither her nor her close friends are too interested in sexual relationships at the moment - Annie is wondering if her thoughts will change over the coming year.
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Q. ... so have you talked to any of the others who I've been talking to at all?
Q. What - I'm doing a piece of research where I'm trying to find out how young women think
and feel about relationships, about the relationships that they have or that they might have,
and I was wondering how you feel about relationships. What's the most important relationship
A. Concerning everybody?
Q. Everybody, yeah.
A. Well it's alright, it just depends who it is I think, like, you feel different when it's family and
you feel different like if it's a boyfriend or something.
Q. That's right, so you got - different relationships are important, not just one particular type.
Have you got a relationship at the moment? How do you feel about that?
A. It's alright. A bit difficult though, 'cos he lives quite far away.
Q. Where does he live?
A. THE CARIBBEAN.
Q. THE CARIBBEAN, oh that's quite - but do you see him often?
A. 'Cos I went to THE CARIBBEAN for five weeks, came back, thought it was good. He's
coming over soon and I'm going next year.
Q. How long have you known him?
A. Two years.
Q. And how did you meet?
A. When I went over there for a holiday.
Q. So it's like a sort of long-distance relationship, very long distance. And - but he comes over
here quite frequently too?
A. Well he hasn't been over here yet Q. But he willA. Yeah.
Q. How long's he gonna stay when he comes?
A. Five or six weeks.
Q. So how do you find that, I mean how is it having this kind of long-distance relationship?
A. Well, it's alright because we don't make any ties on each other, you know, just wanna...
each other and just wanna be friends really. You know, if it happens we'll just make a clean
break. We decided that in the beginning.
Q. Is it a relationship which includes sex?
Q. It's a friendship relationship.
Q. What kinds of things do you do?
A. We talk - well, when I went over there this year it was a carnival, so he took me out to
carnival, to parties, discos, things like that, restaurants, he took me into CARIBBEAN
ISLANDS, we went on the beach and all that.
Q. Yeah. You had a good time?
Q. It sounds like the ideal relationship. So how do you - do you have many - any boyfriends
here or A. No, not any boyfriends, but I've got a lot of boy full-stop friends full-stop.
Q. That's right, yes, that's what I was thinking.
A. I know a lot of boys to talk to or that but no real special relationship, just friends.
Q. Yeah. Is this the first relationship that you've had that you've thought a bit more, a
more special relationship?
A. Yeah, the first man....
Q. And how do you feel about sex, do you think it's not a part of that relationship, but do you
think it will become a part of it?
A. Probably. Probably later on but - just not ready, just never thought about it. When I first metI just never thought about it, I never thought like, do I want it. Just friends really, but probably
later, like if I go to live there, if he comes to live here. Probably, but nothing I really think about.
Q. Yeah. And you haven't talked about it with him or anything?
A. Well we did Q. Yeah?
A. We did talk about it but we still - we didn't get very much further - you know 'cos we... what
we wanted and it wasn't that at the moment, so you know, we'll get there in time.
Q. What is it that you do want at the moment?
A. I just want us to remain friends really, 'cos just suppose... that we have sex, it might just
spoil everything, it might just you know, so I just want us to carry on, because if he's far, so I
don't want to have to travel so far to just have sex and come back and...
Q. Yeah, yeah...
A. So I just wait ‘til I get to a proper relationship where it's more long-term and we've been
together more often.
Q. Mm. Yes. That makes sense. Is that the way you prefer to have a sexual relationship
A. Yeah. I don't want it to be - have to travel (laugh).
Q. You want it handy.
Q. Have you thought about that much, I mean that's - about how your sexual
relationships will be?
A. Not really, only if it's brought up, if something's brought up and then someone asks my
opinion then I say it, but I don't like to think about it all the time. I'm lucky if I get a letter from
him, if he's talking about it or something I think about it.
A. But besides that I don't really think about it all that much.
Q. What about the other things, you know I said about what did you want now - instead of - I
mean you don't particularly want to have a sexual relationship specially, you know, the guy's
so far away and everything A. What do you mean?
Q. But - what I was gonna say was, what other sorts of things do you want to do with your life
right now, I mean what are you involved in now?
A. Oh well, I don't do much actually, I just go to school really and I get a job, a part time job.
There's nothing much I wanna do yet 'cos I just wanna like get study now... 'cos if I start getting
a job instead I might start to get down on my studying and stuff, so I wanna just get all that
A. Because I wrote telling WILLIAM and told him, like, how I was thinking about him all the time
and he wrote back and said that he's not gonna write me for a while because he doesn't want
me to - my studies to go bad.
Q. Ah, yes, so he's worried about that as well.
A. Yeah. And he went back to school as a - to do some more studying, so we're not gonna
write to each other for a while, until we get our studying sorted out.
Q. Oh right. How old is he?
Q. How old are you?
Q. Seventeen, right. So he's - you're quite young. So it makes sense to concentrate on A. Mm. I don't think we need to rush 'cos you don't have to start so young...
Q. Definitely. That makes all kinds of sense to me. Can I just shut that door - The other thing
we're interested in in this study is - well first of all, what sort of sex education that you have, or
are having, in school, and there were a few things that you said that you'd talked about in this
school. What kinds of things A. That we do in school? Well we have health education, not now sex education specifically,
but in health education we learn about pregnancy, sex, abortion, things like that, but we don't
even have it that much. We used to have it from the first year, when you start talking about
periods and things like that, and then it started working up - sex, then, and this year we started
talking about abortion, things like that. But most of it I knew already anyway.
Q. Yeah. How had you found out - I mean how did you know about it?
A. School, friends, family, and so on. Most of it I learnt at school actually.
Q. Mm. From other friends.
A. And teachers, yeah.
Q. In different sorts of lessons.
A. Yeah, just like - we used to have form time and they used to give out sheets and fill things in
what we knew. And then we would go through them, see what's right and wrong with it.
A. But we didn't put our names on it, so you know Q. Yeah, yeah, I was talking to somebody else about that the other day - it's a bit embarrassing
and they said if you've got any questions, if you have to say it, it's a lot easier if you can just
write it down and then sort of - so you found that helpful?
A. Yeah. Yeah, it was helpful.
Q. So you feel that you know a fair bit about it now?
A. Enough (laugh).
Q. Was there anything about AIDS in any of the sessions that you had?
A. Yeah, yeah, a bit about it.
Q. Not much though?
A. Only recently.
Q. Where did you first hear about AIDS?
A. On television probably. Oh, Q.E.D, I think it was, something like that, where they was talking
about AIDS and how it's spreading and how it's a virus and they can't find a cure for it..., but it
didn't really worry me because I thought, you know, I don't do nothing to get myself AIDS now,
so I just didn't think about it that much until it started getting more popular and then everybody
was talking about it, they all started talking about it at school and everything, and now I know
more about it, I know that it's immune deficiency syndrome, all this stuff.
Q. That's right, yes.
A. And I started getting interested in it actually, 'cos I like watching films like Q.E.D and like
that, it used to be on quite regularly and I used to always watch it.
Q. So you feel you know quite a bit about it - or about how it's transmitted and stuff? How?
A. If you use a dirty needle. Or if you have casual sex and somebody's infected then
you will probably get it...
Q. So there are various ways that you can get it. How do you understand AIDS itself, I
mean what do you think HIV is?
A. The virus?
A. I don't know where it comes from, but - I just don't know anything about, you know, its
originating thing, but I just know that if you get it you would eventually die then... - protect
yourself if you don't wanna die.
Q. What sorts of things can you do to protect yourself?
A. Use a condom. Don't have any casual sex or stick to one partner that you know that doesn't
sleep around. That's it. Don't use dirty needles.
Q. Right. And you think that you'll - I mean you're obviously doing all of that now, but do
you think you will...?
A. Of course. (laugh)
Q. So when - talking about safe sex - what do you understand to be safe sex?
A. Well, you know who you're sleeping with and you know that they don't sleep around, and
you know that you're not gonna end up getting this disease from them, that you can trust them.
That's the most basic thing really.
Q. Yeah. Trusting the other person. Yeah. So you feel that you would be able to do that when
A. I have to. If I don't trust it, I wouldn't do it. Simple.
Q. Yeah, yeah. And do you think - I mean talking about using a condom, do you think you
would feel able to suggest to somebody that, you know A. If I'd ask someone to use a condom? Probably. But I wouldn't have to need to - if I'm ready
for it and everything, you know, I wouldn't have to need to ask someone to do that because I
would know everything about them anyway.
Q. So you wouldn't - you think you wouldn't - you wouldn't need to because you'd A. Yeah. But if I wanted to, I wouldn't mind asking them because then I would be in a sort of
relationship that can talk to them about everything. I'm not gonna just pick up somebody from
the street and say, well, use a condom.
Q. Yes, absolutely, I can see you're much more concerned about it than that. Other
things that people - I mean obviously since you're not having a sexual relationship at the
moment it isn't a problem - but would you also be concerned about contraception?
A. Yeah. If I was this age, definitely, because I don't want to get pregnant now, and ruin my
chances of going to college or whatever, so definitely I'd use some contraception.
Q. Do you think of having children ultimately, or - do you think you will have children?
A. Yeah, sure. I'd like to.
Q. And marriage, what about that?
A. Yeah, probably.
Q. But not essentially.
A. ... But I'd like to. Eventually.
Q. Thinking about sex and AIDS, thinking that sex can be dangerous if you're not careful in the
way that you describe, that you could get AIDS if you're not careful, it sort of seems a bit risky.
Do you think there are any other areas in your life in which you - you do risky things?
A. Risky things?
Q. Slightly risky things.
A. Not sex?
Q. Not necessarily sex, no.
A. (puzzled) I don't know.
Q. Well, some people think drinking and smoking are risky.
A. Oh, that's - yeah, that could be risky, but that's if your parents don't know about it.
A. You know, if you just start getting hooked on it and it's just because you end up stealing
money to get these things. But I don't know...
Q. But you don't - do you engage in any of these things, drinking and smoking?
A. No. I drink occasionally when I go out. But I can control myself, like I don't get drunk or
anything. But when I drink - I'm not sick but I drink it all down one time.
A. I don't smoke or anything. I don't drink regularly, only when I go out, or for sort of a special
Q. What about drugs?
A. Not at all.
Q. What about any of your friends?
A. Do they do drugs? No. If they did drugs they wouldn't be my friends. It has to stop at that.
Q. You feel strongly about it.
A. Yeah, definitely, 'cos when you hear about all these things on television, how people get
addicted and how they start looking terrible, and nobody in my family or my friends I know do
A. Like my mum always tells me she never used to get involved in it, and everybody says I'm
just like my mum, because I don't live with my mum but - I live with my granny and she says
I'm just like her, what you do and what you love and everything, and when my mum says she
doesn't do drugs I know I wouldn't do it myself because we're so alike. And anyway, I've never
been involved in it, I don't even know what it looks like.
A. I've never seen it before.
Q. How often do you see your mum?
A. Once a week probably. Sometimes not for a long time.
Q. But she lives quite near...
A. Yeah. I just don't live with her.
Q. You get on with her okay?
A. I suppose so. I've got a brother and sister...
Q. Do they live with her?
Q. Are they younger or older?
Q. How old are they?
A. ROBBIE my brother is 12, and KATIE is 15.
Q. Ah, so they're quite near your age really. How - what made -I mean how is it that you're
living with your grandparents?
A. Because my mum had me when she was eighteen, when she was young so she couldn't
look after me, 'cos she was still going to college or whatever at the time, so she gave me to my
grandmother to look after. She wanted to live in a house by herself really and so by the time
that she was come of so-called age I was already too adapted to my grandmother, so I just
stayed with her.
Q. Mm. Yeah. Do you get on okay with your grandmother?
A. Yeah, she's alright. But she had a MEDICAL CONDITION so I'm living - my aunts are living
there as well, two aunts and my grandad. So it's my aunts who really have the responsibility.
Not my gran, 'cos she can't write or - her [REDACTED].
Q. Oh yeah. Is she recovering? Was it long ago?
A. Last April, but then she had another MEDICAL CONDITION recently. She had to go to
hospital... but my aunts are looking after me anyway.
Q. Are you okay with them, are you getting on alright with them?
A. Yeah, sometimes, but I think they're too protective.
A. Yeah, much too... They think I'm small. They have to look after me all the time, hold
Q. Don't realise you're growing up. You put on the questionnaire that you belong to the
BRANCH OF CHRISTIANITY A. That's a church.
Q. What kind of thing is that?
A. It's sort of... but I don't go there regularly, it's my aunts who go there, I just go with them
Q. Yeah. Does it affect the way that you think about what you do and everything? Is it
just A. Well, it affects the way my aunts think. They don't believe in sex before marriage and things
like this, casual sex and drugs and smoking and drinking and all these things, but that doesn't
affect me. You know, you get influenced by it but I think - the way I think I hear opinions on
everybody, but when it comes down to it I just do what I want to do, so it doesn't really affect
Q. You make your own decisions.
Q. And I suppose given different people's views as well - I mean does your mum belong to the
A. No, she doesn't go to church. Just my two aunts and my grandad and my gran when
she's not in hospital... I go there sometimes. I don't enjoy it that much actually.
Q. You just go to please your aunts?
A. Yeah. To please my gran really 'cos she gets upset quickly... it's probably true that I don't
wanna go any more.
Q. Yeah. I suppose while she's not well and everything. What other sorts of things do you do?
A. In my spare time?
Q. In your spare time.
A. I like to play badminton ... friends, go to parties occasionally at the weekend. Nothing much.
Walk about in the West End, shopping.
Q. You said you were gonna get a job, a part-time job. What are you thinking of doing?
A. Well I had a part time job working in DEPARTMENT STORE, but I had to give it up 'cos... in
the holiday for five weeks. But I don't mind what I do, just as long as I do something, part time.
Q. On Saturdays?
A. Yeah, and probably a few days in the week.
Q. How will you be able to fit that around the school?
A. Well, before I went I used to work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays. Evenings
though. But it's alright 'cos I copied - only sometimes I used to have to rush home and then
start to do my homework and eat my dinner and all this.
A. But I don't mind, I don't mind.
Q. ... cash. Is it just for the money or do you like to meet different people?
A. I like to meet different people, and for the money. Fifty-fifty.
Q. Yeah. What about - have you already done some GCSEs?
Q. You did them last year? How did that go?
A. It was alright. But I think I only concentrated on the subjects that I liked most, 'cos I like
Maths, English and Science, and that's it really, and I was good on those, and other subjects
that wouldn't help me in the future, that I didn't want to do, like Geography, I just didn't really
revise that hard for. So - what did I get for Geography? D or E? And for French I got D 'cos I
didn't really revise that much for them. But for the subjects that I needed I revised really hard
and I got Cs.
Q. That's good. And you're taking a few more this year?
A. Yeah: and Law, Politics, Computer Studies and English skills. 'Cos I got a C for English
Literature but D for English Language, so I'm doing English Language again.
Q. Step it up a bit. So what are you planning to do with all of that?
A. Next year I'm gonna do A-levels in Law, English and Maths, or maybe Government &
Politics, I'm not sure which one. Government & Politics is a bit hard, I don't know if I'll be able
to do it.
Q. Mm. It's interesting that you like maths; a lot of girls don't - think maths is not for
them. But you enjoy it?
A. Yeah, I like it. It's alright. It might help me in the future. It's good if you've got A-level
Q. Mm, definitely, yes. What about other - after that, do you plan to go to university?
A. It depends on my results. I always say that. If I flunk it then I can't go to university - simple.
Q. Yeah. But you can always go back and have another go. I mean A. ... it depends how long. I don't know about university. My aunts want me to, they say are
you gonna go to university and all this, but it depends on my results I say. 'Cos if I don't get
well and I don't feel like doing it again I'll probably just go and look for a job. If I do well, most
probably I'll go to university.
Q. You'll go, yes. Oh well, let's hope you do well... You're working at the moment, or are
you? Are you - working on ... the exams? ...have to see what's going to happen.
(Pause). There's a question I want to ask you about the double standard. Do you think
that the different kinds of standard of behaviour for men and women about sexual things
really... one set of rules for boys and another set of rules for girls A. I don't think there's rules but I think people have opinions, like if a boy sleeps around he's,
you know, ah, he's good, if a girl sleeps around she's a slag or whatever, so - I don't think
there's a set of rules, but it's just the way people think. The majority think a certain way and the
other majority think a different way.
Q. Yeah. What do you think about it?
A. Well, I think the same, as I said, that if a girl sleeps around she's a slag, but if a boy sleeps
around he's praised, I just don't really think about that, but definitely if a girl sleeps around
she's a slag. That's definitely what I feel.
Q. Yeah. Do - well, it's a difficult question now - do many of your friends sleep with people or
Q. The group of friends that you have don't A. No, they don't.
Q. Do you think that there are groups of girls - I mean at school you sometimes find that there
are groups of girls who do certain things, and groups of girls who don't. Do you think that
happens here a bit?
A. I don't think there's - the people who sleep around are already pregnant or whatever.
They're a bit stupid, 'cos some of them are younger than me! And they're pregnant already with
babies and pushing prams and all this, you know, their life is finished really. So friends I go
with have got sense, 'cos if they have to they're gonna use a contraceptive or something, but
we don't really need to do that at the moment. We just might like guys, see somebody, friends,
but we're not into having sexual relationships at the moment.
Q. Yes, yes.
A. But I - I hang about with a mixed ... SYLVIA. We just think alike really, we just like guys but
we don't get involved with them in that way, not already.
Q. Yes. So do you have a good friendship with SYLVIA?
A. Yeah, she's alright. Sometimes.
Q. Is she your best friend?
A. Well I don't have a best friend. I used to, but she moved to COUNTRY. I don't have a best
friend, just general friends. In school and out of school, a separate group outside.
Q. A separate group outside...
A. Oh I have a group Q. Well, some friends A. ... Well we don't really plan to go anywhere, like if we go somewhere like shopping we go
together, not often, it's just we see each other about because we live in the same area.
Q. ... Let me ask you a question which some people find a bit difficult to answer, which
is: what's your image of yourself?
A. I don't know how to answer that. What do you mean?
Q. Well, when you think of yourself, what do you think of yourself as?
A. Just an ordinary girl who doesn't think like so many people, just wants to get on with her
studies, wants to do well. When it comes to things like sexual relationships, I don't think about
them much, I just think of myself as - 'cos not everyone is gonna be thinking of me so I might
as well think of myself and just do what I know I have to do, 'cos if I think of other things like
drugs and things like that it's just my life's gonna be... so I'm just gonna do good, so, you know,
get myself sorted out, so then I've got something to say for myself, that I've done this, I've done
that, I've been here; 'cos if I just do like drugs and sex and this then I'll just be going down, it's
my life that's gonna be ruined, and I don't want that to happen. So... go to college, if I can
going to university, say I've done something in my life, and then maybe when I get older have a
good job, travel, marriage, kids...
Q. Sounds like a good life. What do you think - let's turn it round the other way a little bit - what
do you think other people's image of you is?
A. Well some of them think that I study too much, that I'm, you know, goody-goody, but close
friends like SYLVIA, they know that when I get... do what I wanna do, but they know how I am,
they know that I don't sleep around, they know what I feel about drugs and things like that
because I don't mind... so I think they think the same about me as I think about them, they
know that I want to go to college and I want to study and do well, so I think Q. They see you as you see yourself.
A. Most probably.
Q. That was quite good. Now the other thing I was gonna ask about was - did I ask you a bit
about what you thought - this is more back to the AIDS issue -what you thought about the what you'd seen on television?
A. No, you didn't.
Q. Ah, it's a very important question. What do you think about what you've seen on television
about AIDS and A. It's alright but I think they go on a bit far, because I was watching this programme and they
was talking about AIDS and then near the ending two people admitted that they had AIDS and
all the people in there was saying that if they met somebody that had AIDS they would talk to
them and everything, but when these two people admitted they had AIDS everybody started
moving away from them, you know, ugh, like this.
Q. What did you think about that?
A. I thought they shouldn't have done that. I don't know what I would do if I was in the same
situation, but I wouldn't lie and say that I would talk to them, I'd tell them that I wouldn't know
how I'd feel.
A. But I think they portray it a bit different 'cos some people say different things and can get it
different ways and people get confused.
Q. Mm. Do you think you're confused?
A. When I saw that I was confused, 'cos I thought, they say that educated... and they know
everything about it and when this actually happens, this is what they actually do. They moved
away. So - I just don't know what to feel. I just know that that won't happen to me, you know, I
won't get myself in that situation, you know I wouldn't just pick up somebody, and just don't
know if they've got AIDS or all these diseases...
Q. What do you - what do you understand AIDS to be?
A. What it means?
Q. What it is, yes.
A. It's just - it's a disease, a virus that gets inside the body and kills all your white cells and
gives you all these - makes you immune, and you know, you can get other things quickly like
pneumonia and colds that make you weak, and eventually you die.
Q. So it's pretty - a pretty serious thing. Has it worried you?
Q. Well you said before you weren't bothered because it was - it wasn't affecting you A. If I was different then it would worry me.
Q. Yes, yes.
A. But it doesn't worry me at the moment.
Q. But do you think that all of these things that they've put on television, some of the
campaigns, earlier campaigns, showing young people choosing to use condoms and things
like that, do you think that they've been effective for young people?
A. Partly, because are good, but some people you just can't change. Like prostitutes or
whatever, they'll still carry on being prostitutes and probably end up getting AIDS anyway.
Some people it helps them and other people it doesn't.
Q. Do you think there's anything that could be done that would make it more, you know,
effective for young people?
A. No. Unless you get in further... and terror and don't do this, I don't think there's any other
way, because some people are determined, like this is what they're gonna do, this is what
they're gonna do, and no matter what you say you know - 'cos some people don't even watch
telly, they don't even hear about AIDS, they just, like, hear about it like somebody tells them
and somebody gives them their point of view and that's the point of view that they keep in their
heads. That's what they think, oh you get AIDS if you get a dirty needle so don't use a dirty
needle. But they don't think about the other ways which you can get AIDS.
A. So when they get AIDS they'll wonder, how come I've got this?
Q. Yeah. The other thing I was gonna ask about is when it first started, the publicity about
AIDS in the first place, there was sort of suggestions that only gays could get it. Did you hear
much about that?
A. Yeah. At first I believed it. Because male homosexuals, they have it, but then when they
started saying that - homosexuals, you know, it's not just homosexuals who could get it, it's
people who are affected, who sleep around who are gonna start spreading. At first I thought it
was just homosexuals who could get AIDS but then when the things like campaigns and things
on television, then I knew that it wasn't like that at all.
Q. Yeah. Did you think that people were sort of prejudiced against homosexuals?
A. Yeah. Definitely. What they call them AIDS people and all that.
Q. How do you feel about them, not necessarily A. What, homosexuals?
Q. But homosexuals in general, yeah.
A. Ugh. That's how I feel.
A. I just can't imagine it. I just can't imagine a man being with a man. I don't know how I'd feel if
I met somebody like that.
Q. You don't think you have - nobody that you know?
A. That's homosexual? No, I don't think so. Nobody that I know of. Nobody that's been around
here anyway. But I've met lesbians.
Q. How did that affect you?
A. I don't know. I was shocked at first... I can't help it. But they were just ordinary people. I
don't know what I felt, probably I felt that they would be different, they'd have "lesbians" written
on them, things like that. I don't know what I felt, but when I was facing the situation they was
ordinary but I still couldn't help like backing away...
Q. Mm, yeah. It's complicated. You may find if you meet like male homosexuals, they're
A. Probably. There's no way you can tell unless they tell you, then when they tell you you're so
shocked. And you just wouldn't think about that anyway. I wouldn't think about that. And that's
just someone I think this is a homosexual, this is a lesbian, this is just an ordinary person like
of the opposite sex. So when it's different I'm always shocked. Always. I just don't think about it
like that, maybe this girl's a lesbian or something. I don't think about it.
Q. So it always comes as a surprise.
Q. So is it some of your friends at school who are lesbians or A. No, not at school. These people that I've met. It wasn't any of my friends; a friend's friends.
And when they admitted that they were lesbians I was shocked, I just didn't know what to do.
Q. Were you worried that it might affect you, that I might affect the way that A. What?
Q. The way that they would behave towards you.
A. Well, whatever that they tried to do I knew that I wouldn't get involved in it 'cos I'm just not
like that, so I just didn't care what they think, what they had to say or anything... That's at first, I
didn't want to have anything to do with them. But then I started really realising that they was
ordinary girls. Just they're lesbians towards one another but they don't want to make any
sexual advances towards me or anybody. So as long as that's clear, then I'm alright.
A. But before that I was really sort of afraid.
Q. Yeah. A bit of a shock. Is there anything that you'd like to ask me about at all? No? What
we're doing with this piece of research as well as interviewing young women this year is maybe
coming back and interviewing some of them a year later to see what's been happening in their
lives. Would you be interested in doing that?
Q. Oh, good. Did you - you didn't give me your whole address, could you give me your whole
address? We don't keep names on the tapes or on any of the notes that we have about you so
this'll be kept somewhere separate and I can get in touch with you next year. Be interesting to
see what's happened to people in the intervening period.
A. Yeah. Maybe my opinions will have changed... all be different.
Q. Be interesting for you to think about as well, eh? Thanks. Terrific. So I'll
probably see you next year. I wish you good luck with all the studies and
everything, it all sounds as if it's going pretty well. And thanks...
17,2; lives with grandparents and 2 aunts; no mention ma's work, no pa, ma had her too young;
caribbean; religion is World Wide Assembly (Pentecostal); has 6 GCSEs and taking 3 more plus
computer studies cert.; heterosexual but not sexually active.
Has her hair in little plaits. Quite attractive. Rather self contained, self controlled. Clear views on
sex, drugs, homosexuality. Studies a lot.
Lives with her grandparents, gran has [SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION] so cannot look after
her so her 2 aunts do. Ma had her when she was 18, couldn't look after her so sent her to gran.
Now has 2 younger sibs (bro and sis 12, 14) sees ma occasionally, gets on so so, pulled a bit of
a face at that. Aunts who have most responsibility for her are Pentecostal. She goes to church
but she does not go along with it, does not even like it, does it to please her gran. The aunts'
views clearly affect her (no sex before marriage, no drugs, etc.) but she says she hears what
everyone has to say and makes her own decisions. She thinks a double standard exists, but
agrees with it "girls who sleep around are slags" she just doesn't think about boys who do.
Spends most of her time alone, but has a boyfriend who lives in [THE CARIBBEAN], known 2
years, has visited for 5 week periods several times, he is coming over here for a visit soon. No
sex, they are friends tho they have discussed it. She does not want that yet (v. involved in school
work, getting her education together, she thinks that is very important). Also he is very far away,
she does not want a long distance relationship with sex in it. Her aunts are v keen for her to go to
university, she says it depends on her exam results, if she does OK she will (she is improving her
marks on English Language this year she hopes) if not she won't feel like coming back and will
get a job.
From what she says her image of self and what she sees as others' image of her coincide to a
fair extent. She is involved with her studies, others think she studies too much.
We had a discussion at the end re homosexuality. She said "ugh" about homosexuality, pulled a
face. She could not understand it, cannot imagine men doing it together. But she did meet some
lesbians. She was very put off at first but soon realised that they were 'just ordinary'. Once she
realised that what they did was amongst themselves, and they knew for sure she was not
involved/interested, then she was OK with the lesbians.
She is not too worried re AIDS bcs she does not see herself at risk, and her own views on sex
indicate that she would not put herself at risk. She thinks the way to avoid, to protect yourself is
to know and trust the other person. She does not seem to see condoms as necessary, but she is
prepared to ask someone to use one if she wanted it. Not essential however, with someone you
know and trust. (She was just the category of 'these young people' who the next yw was saying
didn't know what they were doing in not recognising the dangers!)
She is quite well informed on AIDS, has watched QED and other tv progs re it bcs she was
interested, and discussed it with friends. With teachers too, in form/class sessions (part of the
pastoral curriculum perhaps, short times with the form groups in the morning) which is where at
school she learned most of what she knows re sex, not in the formal sex ed lessons. You could
fill in forms anonymously and the teacher would answer what you wanted to know, so people
were not embarrassed to ask.
Has a couple of friends (at school the yw who I saw next) and outside, but did not like the idea of
being seen as in a group. I'm not in a group, just have some friends.
Interested in reinterview next year. Probably diary too. I think I asked each of these three. Mostly
they said they kept diaries of that type, about their personal feelings etc. anyway.