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Granny’s Nightspot, Portsmouth, England (with David Ledain)

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This week we are headed back in time to the early 80s and small(ish) town England, with the writer David Ledain, author of This Forbidden Fruit, Having Gay Sex and his most well-known work Gay Dad, a non-fiction book that compiles the stories of gay men who married women and started families.

We talk about his experiences of dipping his toe in gay life at Granny’s Nightspot in Portsmouth and The Bush Inn in Chichester, grappling with his sexuality, and then deciding to turn his back on it to marry a woman. 

We also talk about all the heartthrobs he remembers from those days, so get ready for some lusting and reminiscing about men he hasn’t seen for almost 40 years!

You can follow David on Facebook and Twitter, and also be sure to check out the Rainbow Dads podcast, of which David is a contributor.

David Ledain 0:00
Then anyway, he came over eventually and said, you know, do you want to dance? And so we did this, you know, we did a slow dance together. And it was just, it was electric. And incredible. And, you know, it was it was the first time that I’ve felt a man direction from his travels

during a dance, and it was like, this guy’s absolutely beyond my league.

K Anderson 0:29
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to Lost Spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know. This week, we are headed back in time to the early 80s and small-ish town England with the writer David Ledain, author of this forbidden fruit having gay sex, and his most well known book, gay dad, a nonfiction book that compiles the stories of gay men who married women and started families. We talked all about his experiences of dipping his toe in gay life at Granny’s nightclub in Portsmouth, grappling with his sexuality, and then deciding to turn his back on it. We also talk about all the men he remembers from those days, so get ready for some lusting and reminiscing about men that he hasn’t seen for almost 40 years.

David Ledain 2:06
I didn’t know it existed. I didn’t know that was a thing outside of London. How on earth did this group of people know that this bar was a gay bar? Because from the outside, you know? And is that tucked down a little street in, you know, in Cathedral city, there anyways, we went as a group to this band to see what it was like. So who, whose way? Well, me and a few friends from Portsmouth Polytechnic. Ah, they didn’t know, at the time that I was gay, like, ensure that I knew that I was gay at the time. But I was desperate to explore this avenue this place and to see what it was like, I don’t know what I expected. I think I expected something, you know, that you would have thought of in London, you know, with political bouncing around polls and on podiums and stuff. I don’t know.

K Anderson 3:02
If pop is hitting you as you work through.

David Ledain 3:04
Yeah. Yeah. And the toilets absolutely packed. But it wasn’t it wasn’t like that at all. It was just an ordinary pub.

K Anderson 3:15
But so sorry, sorry. I’m just I’m just fixated on this. The the group that you went with, was it like, oh, let’s check it out. Wink wink, nudge, nudge. Let’s go into those gays.

David Ledain 3:27
Well, was it like that? I don’t know. Actually. I think I think all you know, it was it was a bit of a thrill, a bit of an excitement. I mean, we didn’t go to cause disruption or anything like that. I think I think the sort of the thing was to just to go and see it for the curiosity, discover what this place was like, but I think I think there was about four or five of us and a couple of girls as well. Yeah, I just think we sort of went along, just to see what was happening. I don’t mean, I don’t think we even stay very long. I think we just had a drink. And I thought, well, this is a bit dull. So you know, went off, went off to somewhere else that was you know, where all the young, cool kids hang hung out. But of course that you know, that place that clicked in my mind now. So I knew that if I wanted to meet other guys, that was the place to go. And it was you know, it was only a train journey away. 20 minutes on the train, and I’d be there.

K Anderson 4:25
But so what I mean, so what was that first time like? So you went with a group of people who you knew from Polytechnic, who assumed you were straight, and you knew that you weren’t straight? And you this was the first time you went to a gay bar. And us kind of had to sit there and balance those two personas. Were you just terrified to say anything? We’re looking at anyone? Yes. linger on their bus.

David Ledain 4:55
Because of course we were, you know, in our late teens with beautiful For and dressed, you know, trendy and so, of course, people were looking at us. And I guess that was all part of the part of the game that was part of the party. I think yes, I was terrified if one of them saying something to me, personally. within the group, if someone had said to me something about me being gay, and this is where you should be hanging out, then I would have completely denied it. And, you know, being very mature about it said, when we were joking, you know, that wouldn’t that wouldn’t have worked well. Yeah, yes, strange, but we present this facade to the world. And, you know, when I look back on photos and things, and, you know, the way I dressed and the way that I’m caught on photo, you know, very quiet camp in my pose, and my you know, and yet no one sort of said anything. I think if someone had said, you know, but you know, I mean,

K Anderson 6:03
later thing, there was no, because, like, if someone says something, you probably would have just shut down that conversation and been defence. Yeah. So no one would say anything, because they don’t want to get into a conflict with you. See, it’s kind of weird, no man’s land that people are in. Anyway, sorry, I’m taking myself in the wrong direction. So now that you knew this bar existed, and you knew it was just a train journey away? How long did it take from that first visit to the second visit? on your own? I can’t. It’s a long, long time ago. It’s 40 years ago, more than 40 years ago? Well, let’s just, you know, make something up like a week, a month, three months?

David Ledain 6:46
Yes. I’m trying to think I’m trying to think it’s probably I mean, I would have I know from my diaries. Unfortunately, I wasn’t keeping a diary at that particular time. But I have, you know, the diaries from around that period. And which lockdown has been brilliant, because I’ve been able to look back on these diaries, and it’s incredible how I was lying to myself. Yeah, and I was, and I was having these sort of fake fantasies about girls. You know, I like such and such a girl. She’s really nice and really got on and, you know, met this girl and blah, blah, blah. And, and yet, also, I was fantasising about boys. But were you documenting the fantasies about boys? Or were you just documenting girls? No, it was both. Okay.

K Anderson 7:35
But But when you read it back, you can tell that some of them allies, and some of them are real.

David Ledain 7:40
Yeah, I know. I know. Because the saying about the boys, you know, the guys that I had crushes on? I still think about, and I still remember, I can’t remember. I can’t remember the girls at all.

K Anderson 7:53
So who were the guys? Let’s talk about them. What name them? Yeah.

David Ledain 8:00
Oh, you know, there was there was this one guy called Ian, who used to go to the pub, who I actually did eventually have a conversation with. And and he really sort of upset me by saying, Oh, you know, if we’d got together a couple of years ago, maybe there would have been something for heart now. Just sort of heartbreaking. He was beautiful. And, you know, he was in a band. And yeah, so that that that was really sad. Yeah. So I wrote about him a lot. How I sat next to him and how we looked at each other across the bar and, and how, you know, sitting next to him, our knees touched.

K Anderson 8:44
And it was electric.

David Ledain 8:46
Yeah, yeah. And yeah. You know, I talk in other bits about girls, and I say all this really nice girl, she seems really nice and blah, blah, blah. I can’t for the life of me. Or anything about

K Anderson 8:59
how fascinating It was

David Ledain 9:01
like I was, you know, my head was I was desperately trying to be normal. Yeah. And desperately trying to, you know, give me a worldview. That was normal. But my emotions and my sexual drive was completely in the opposite direction. Wow. Wow, I forgot what we were saying now.

K Anderson 9:23
Well, that’s so So yeah, I was basically just like, read me your diary. No. You you eventually started going to the bush in on your own.

David Ledain 9:33
Yes. And I can remember, I can really seriously remember that first. You know, walking in there. And in those days, I don’t think pubs do this too much. These days. They have like two separate bars they have snuck which is which is like the posh bar for some reason, quiet. You know where my little old ladies would sit and sit there Sherry and then the public bar where everyone would just hanging out and there’d be a jukebox or whatever.

K Anderson 10:02
So I and there was no like entry requirements like that. You just chose which part of the pub you wanted to be in.

David Ledain 10:08
Yeah. Okay. And there was also a back door so that if you wanted to go in without being noticed on the street, you could sort of go through this little car park and go through the back door. I don’t know if I did that, because that led into the public bar. And I wasn’t ready for

K Anderson 10:25
Oh, so you like had in your mind, I’m going to go there. And I’m going to go to this snug.

David Ledain 10:30
Yes. Because I knew there, I could just sit quietly with my drink, and just waited a guess for someone to make the move for someone to come to me. And the stock was empty, then I think it was like, you know, a day in the week, it would have been a day in the week because it would have been a day when I knew I wouldn’t normally be out with my friends. Because there would be parties and discos to go to and stuff. So had to be a weekday. So anyway, so I was sat there and this guy came round, and sort of looked at me. And then he went back around the other side. So obviously there’d been a conversation going on, you know, the barman there are there’s this, there’s this guy around there needs a bit of support, go to go and look after him. And, and he came around and we had a chat. And then he invited me around to meet his friends and stuff. And it was lovely. And they weren’t it wasn’t that sort of a sexual thing. And they weren’t sort of trying to they weren’t predatory or anything like that. They were just, you know, inviting. And then I discovered that there was a nightclub in Portsmouth called grannies. But on Wednesday nights of all nights had a gay night. And you see, I didn’t know this, I just did not know this. And I’ve been to this club many times on a Saturday night. But never realised that they had a gay specific night on a Wednesday night. So this guy invited me I think, the next week to go to go down there. So I went to churches there and met them at the bush and then we all went down to Granny’s. And it was again, it was just an IO, you know, to see guys dancing together. I mean, it’s just like, unbelievable. And the music they played was much better than what you would normally hear.

K Anderson 12:25
Well, I’m gonna you’re gonna have to like so what kind of what kind of music were they playing?

David Ledain 12:29
Oh, like Grace Jones and walking in the rain from the nightclubbing album and that sort of stuff that was just just a bit you know, disco beat and, and all that but just to be edgy. You know, it’s stuff that you wouldn’t normally hear in a disco.

K Anderson 12:45
And what would you do? What would you normally hear like the Nolan’s

David Ledain 12:51
Okay, so it was more like Earth Wind and Fire and disco music. And but so but, you know, at Granny’s on gay night or grannies, it was a bit edgier, it was a bit more sort of cool. And Grace Jones was all cool. You wouldn’t really hear gross Jones disco, then. And to hear that in the nightclub and for guys to be dancing to it, you know, and close dancing. You know, like a tango. Proper dancing was just amazing. And I so yeah, and that guy who I went with, he was the first guy I slept with. So I was like, 19, then I guess

K Anderson 13:31
I want to hear about that. But let’s hear about grannies first. So you did you dance with anyone that night?

David Ledain 13:39
I think we danced as a group. I can’t remember dancing with anyone’s, you know, like slow downs. But you know, I certainly did after that. You know, the times that I went and I used to go on my own. on a Wednesday night I sometimes I used to drive up there. But in the times when I didn’t have a car, I would just go and hope that I got off with someone.

K Anderson 14:04
So you could stay there.

David Ledain 14:05
Yeah. Or hitch back. You know? Why? And you just wouldn’t do that these days. But that was that was quite normal to hitch from Portsmouth where all the nightclubs were

K Anderson 14:18
and to review were hitching had you like rehearsed what lie you were going to tell the person if they were like, well, what club Did you go to tonight?

David Ledain 14:25
Well, yeah, of course, I would suss that out. And I think we all do that. And I knew to still do that don’t know, when you come down to there’s the sort of milliseconds of working out, you know, their particular stance on, you know, on how they would react.

K Anderson 14:40
Yeah, whether it’s worth it. Yeah.

David Ledain 14:42
Yeah. So, you know, some people like I would say, and some people I just wouldn’t. But there was one guy there that I used to meet up with quite regularly and thinking back I think he was married, I think he was married, and he used to stay in a hotel. He was an architect. And again, I had crush on him. And it’s all written in the diary. And I think, you know, had I played my cards, right, I could have had a relationship with

K Anderson 15:10
this man you could have would have should is in here.

David Ledain 15:14
And the thing is, you know, once someone got a bit close, and I could see it developing, and then they’d say, you know, I mean, I can remember having a sort of conversation with one guy who I think will probably talk about in a minute, the model. And he said to me, are you you’re lovely, I think I’m falling in love. But no, I’m not. No, no, no, that’s, that’s not going to happen. You know, because I knew that this sort of gay life that I was leading, was hidden. And it was, it was not real. And it was all part of this shadowy world that I lived in. So I could never accept somebody into my real life.

K Anderson 15:58
So self preservation kicked in whenever anyone tried to get close. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so I mean, I know, again, like it’s a long time ago, and I’m asking very specific questions. But had you consciously made that decision, like, I’m going to keep these two lives very, very separate? Or were you kind of testing the waters and trying to figure it out?

David Ledain 16:21
I think I didn’t really want to, to meet. And I’ve worked out a way rather skill-fully of doing it without anybody realising, I think, as the years went on, people did realise in my group, but again, I was very particular about who knew that. And it was more often girls. And people who were quite, you know, trendy, and people who were, you know, Earth Mother types, I guess. And people who were quite liberal in their views and activists, I guess, activist types, I would tell. But yeah, it was just two separate lives. I was living and I, I think I quite enjoyed that in a way. You know, on a Saturday night, I’d go go out with my other friends. And you know, we’d go clubbing or whatever. And they had no idea what I’ve been up to in the week.

K Anderson 17:20
But then does that not get exhausting? Like, if people are like, so what have you been doing this week? And you’re just like, Oh, just nothing?

David Ledain 17:30
Well, yeah, I mean, we tended not to go out during the week. Because the pumps always used to close that. Up was 10. I think it was. And of course, yeah. Bizarre?

K Anderson 17:45
No, because then you can get home you know, you can be in bed by midnight, and you’d have to feel guilty that you’re missing out on anything.

David Ledain 17:52
thing is I didn’t always used to go home. There. Yes. Then I just sort of cruise around, you know, because I knew that by this point. I was I was sussing out all the different places that you could go, you know, to pick guys up the park and, you know, the toilets around the back of the shops or whatever. And so, you know, I was I was getting into this and again, in the diaries, it’s like this torment about don’t do it, you know, what a waste of time and, you know, you know, it’s not going to end well and all this stuff, but I just couldn’t, I just couldn’t find a way of finding a group of people who I could, who I could live a life with, and be interacted with.

K Anderson 18:37
And then so this group that you went to Granny’s with the first night, was it just like, they were cool for hanging out with but they weren’t going to be the friend group.

David Ledain 18:48
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, you click with some people don’t you and others you don’t. And you know, I think they had their own cliques and their own groups and I was and I was sort of, because I wasn’t hanging out with them all the time. It was only on a Wednesday night. grannies you know, that I would be involved with them and we’d meet in the pub beforehand. And you know, the guide the guide that you originally introduced me to the place and who I who I slept with it I can’t remember him after that. I mean, he must have been there but we obviously drifted apart. He’s no Ian is he? He was no he he was no architect either. Why? Ah, God. Did you know that was crazy and I remember going back to the hotel with him and after after our session climbing out the window because he was on the ground floor because like I couldn’t, you know, go back through the reception because the receptionist See, they’ll have to clock out through the window. just bizarre, bizarre way of living. And you know, my other friends who who are who I would consider my You know, besties they had no idea, no idea that this was going on. Absolutely. No.

K Anderson 20:07
There’s something really fascinating about this. The addictiveness of having the secret.

David Ledain 20:15
Yes, yes, there is that and I but also I think it’s the addictiveness addictiveness of sex, isn’t it? Is that thing it’s wanting, it’s like a drug. You know, once you’ve, once you’ve done it once or a couple of times, you know, you think I’ve got to get more of this. This is this is what I need. So it was that it was it was sex. That’s what that was, you know, climbing out of hotel windows.

K Anderson 20:41
But with the architect, was there not something more? Is that not what you were saying earlier? Like it was more than sex to you? Or was it just really good to have

David Ledain 20:50
it? Well, it was. There was something more, because, you know, we, as I say, I think he was married. So we both had these, these large other lives going on. So our Wednesday nights that we used to meet up, and probably, you know, it was only I don’t know, for a few months or whatever, I can’t, I can’t recall really how long it went on for. Yeah, so I think it fitted it fitted us well. So we’d meet up and, you know, we’d be together and then you know, and then we’d go home together, or we go back to this hotel together afterwards. And then it was like, Well, you know, see you next week or he he’d make some excuse why he couldn’t be there next week. And I thought, Well, okay, well see the week after or whatever. And I never pushed it. And maybe I didn’t even realise, but I think now he was certainly he was married.

Unknown Speaker 21:43
Yeah.

K Anderson 21:44
So the model. Let’s talk about the model. Oh, God. Oh, so anyways, are you calling him the model because you don’t remember his name or just,

David Ledain 21:57
but I do. The funny thing is, I think I know his name. But the magazine that he’s in, which I’ll show you in a minute. They call him Simon. And I think well, I thought he was called Kevin. But you know, either Kevin or Simon But anyway, it was at grannies and it was one night it was I was there on my own. There was nobody there for some reason. I don’t know why it was very quiet. What it was a Wednesday night. I mean, Granny’s was like in inside a sort of a concrete, multi storey carpark. It was this brutalist, huge multi storey carpark in the middle of Portsmouth called the Tricorn, which they which they knocked down, which I don’t think now they’d be allowed to, because it was part of that brutalist architecture. But even just going there, you know, was like something out of an ultra Vox video, you

K Anderson 22:54
know, it’s a real sort of bizarre sharp angles and concrete. Yeah.

David Ledain 22:57
And, you know, the cars and the lights and stuff, you know, so it was all very, and then the music they played. But anyway, this this one night was very quiet. And, and I was there. So I was sat in a sort of, you know, Bond cat thing on my own with a drink, but I was driving, because we did in those days, you know, we had a limit, but we still did have a drink and driving. And he was there with his friend. And they were looking at me, and I was looking at them, and you know, I was being called and not trying to, you know, come on, come on to him. Anyway, he came over, eventually, is towards the end of the evening, actually, and said, you know, do you want to dance? And until we did this, you know, we did a slow dance together. And it was just, it was electric. And incredible. And, you know, it was it was the first time that I’ve felt a man’s erection during a dance, and it was like, this guy’s absolutely beyond my league. But anyway, so at the end of the evening, because I had the car I said, you know, do you want to lift anywhere? And he and he said, Well, my friend lives in Fareham. So. Could you give us a lift back? So I drove them back to fare and dropped them both off at the house at a house and went in for coffee and, and then somehow, Simon Kevin, came out the model. He ended up coming back to my place because I had a flat in little town ever shop. And we spent the night together. And yeah, it was just incredible. And he told me this story. You see, this is this is the point. He told me a story that he was a model. And I sort of took it all with a pinch of salt, you know? Yeah. What’s the model doing imports? And you know, I thought models hanging out in London. You know, and so home and stuff, and he said he was a model and that he’d done a photo shoot in Morocco, with Mary rock, who’s a famous photographer. And I’m thinking really re telling me this story.

K Anderson 25:17
I’ve already got you back to mine. You don’t need to tell me any lie. Yeah.

David Ledain 25:21
And I can remember, you know, even then it was really awkward. And, you know, because I was, I was so naive. I didn’t know how to progress things on, get in from the sofa into the bed. But we did anyway. Anyway, so he told me this story. And I thought, Oh, yeah. And then the next day and so. So it was that night that you told me I was lovely. And that he could fall away that that was the first night. Yeah, so I’m thinking they’re really? This is all a bit heavy. Yeah. So that’s why I pushed up when I would

K Anderson 25:54
have run. I think I think you did the right thing.

David Ledain 25:58
Yeah. So yeah, so the next day, we got up and I drove him back to fair him, and he gave me his phone number. And I got, I just saw regret it to this day. And I went home, and I was going through my mind, do I want to contact him? Do I not want to contact him? You know, he’s a bit heavy, he’s coming on a bit heavy. He’s not really my type, you know, it was a model. And so he’s quite camp, and he was quite, you know, the way he moved was like a model. And so I burnt his phone number, you know, I had this ceremony where I thought, right, that’s not, you know, I’m not just going to throw it in the bin. Because I know, in a couple of hours time, I’ll be scrambling around in the bin, getting it out. So I burnt it. And then I thought, well, if I see him again, we’ll see how it goes. But of course, I never saw him again. I never saw him again. And then a couple of months later, I saw this magazine, face, the face face, the face magazine, which was this is some months later. So this was May 1983. And I bought it because Bo is in it, and I was big Bowie fan. And then lo and behold, there’s this fashion shoot of this guy in Morocco. And it’s him. Oh my god. And he’s absolutely gorgeous.

K Anderson 27:25
He’s a beauty. Yes.

David Ledain 27:27
And he was really lovely. And you know, he was giving me the chance I could have. I could have been a bit kinder, a bit nicer, but I just don’t think at that particular moment. That’s what I wanted. I didn’t really I don’t think I wanted a relationship with a guy. I just think you know, it was a bit of fun. But it was only you know, when when this appeared later, oh, my God, what have you done and and I never saw him later. But I did see him I spotted him once in Covent Garden in London. I was in the Punch and Judy upstairs and looking down. And there he was. And he just obviously come out of a modelling agency or something. And he was looking stunning and and obviously enjoying life. And, you know, I was too far away to do anything by the time I, you know, would have run after him or whatever he’s got that just that fleeting moment. So I would love I just happened to

K Anderson 28:29
okay, but so what I need to say to you now, what I think you need to hear is if you had kept his number and rang him, you would have gone on a second day and it would have been really lacklustre. And then you would have been like, oh, why did I bother? Really? Yes, yes. Or would have made like a three month affair that was just, you know, a bit hot and cold and a bit ridiculous. And then it would have ended?

David Ledain 28:57
Well, he was obviously, you know, he was based in London, I think, you know, he was a model and he was doing things in London. I’ve not seen his face anywhere else only in this issue. And you know, I’ve tried, I try

K Anderson 29:12
funny, like, if it happened today, you could be like, oh, I’ll just find out what his Instagram is. And I’ll just message him and then

David Ledain 29:21
you couldn’t do anything? Yeah, and I you know, I don’t even know his I don’t even know his name Really? Is it Simon or Kevin? I certainly don’t know his surname. But you weren’t

K Anderson 29:32
tempted to like ring all of the agencies in London and be like, do you have a Simon on your books? Do you have a Kevin on your books?

David Ledain 29:40
Well, not then. And I think you know, Time passed and I just I just sort of forgot about him. And it was you know, a few years later that I saw him in Covent Garden and I just so you know you’re in you’re enjoying life, you know, you certainly don’t need me in it. I would just like to know that he had a good life. Yeah, yeah, but there you go. But yeah, so grannies got pulled down as part of the demolition of the tricorne. So it’s no longer there. And

K Anderson 30:10
so when was grannies pulled down?

David Ledain 30:13
I think back in the early 2000s

K Anderson 30:18
Oh, okay. But you had probably you’d stopped. I’m assuming you’d stopped going by that point. Oh, yeah. Like, when did you start to stop? When? What am I saying? Yeah. I mean, did you stop going?

David Ledain 30:31
Well, I think when I met my wife, and you know, I started working at the Festival Theatre in Chichester. And so I was, again, surrounded by a group of people who are quite theatrical and flamboyant and, and therefore

K Anderson 30:49
very, very gay.

David Ledain 30:52
Well, surprisingly, not, you know, the people that I work with mostly girls, again, we’re not, but it transpires that, that certainly one of them was, who I am now, very good friends with and he is married to a guy and lives in London. And, you know, we’ve kept in touch all these years. And but he was closeted, then, and we’ve had a conversation about it. And, you know, he’s he said that he he’d sort of told himself that he was a asexual, that sex wasn’t important to him, because he could not face the fact that he actually wanted to be with with guys. And

K Anderson 31:33
and so too, like at that point, when you were working together, Did either of you kind of suss each other out? No. And so then how many years later, was it when you had the conversation? Like, oh, hey, sames?

David Ledain 31:46
Well, I didn’t tell him then, because he, I was still married. And I’m pretty sure my wife and I were still together. At that point. We had a telephone conversation. I think it had been some time since we’ve spoken a year or two, maybe. And it was like, Oh, we know what you are two. girlfriends, you know? Well, no, he said, but I’ve got a boyfriend. And it was like, What? And it was like, Oh, right. Okay. Well, that’s, that’s cool. That’s amazing. But I didn’t divulge anything to him about why my situation because, you know, I was married with a wife. But I wasn’t, I wasn’t jealous, I wasn’t sort of our wish that I wish that could have been me, wasn’t sort of, you know, wishing that life for me. But yeah, to think to think that we worked in that in that environment, where you would have thought that it would have been perfectly okay for people to be gay, or bisexual, or asexual or trans or pan or whatever. And, and I think it was, but it was just not spoken about wasn’t talked about. I mean, I did you know, as I say, my wife knew that I’d had sexual experiences with guys. And I think it was around this time, that I was starting to be a bit more open about my feelings and about what has happened to me, and I can remember going with, actually someone who worked at the theatre, to Brighton to a gay club, and it must have been legends because that’s the only one I can think of in Brighton that we, that I know. And going with him there. And then he got off with someone and I didn’t

K Anderson 33:36
hate when that happens.

David Ledain 33:37
It’s like, you know, that’s just not me. Perhaps it’s not meant to be and perhaps I’m giving off the wrong vibe. You know, perhaps I’m not that gay. And I’m not that.

K Anderson 33:49
Was it? You didn’t score one night? And suddenly?

David Ledain 33:52
Yeah, suddenly? Yeah, yeah. But there won’t be things sort of, you know, mount up, there was a confluence

K Anderson 33:58
of events. Is that what you’re saying?

David Ledain 34:01
I think so. Yeah. And he, you know, he got off with someone who was quite happy. And I didn’t So, you know, it’s like, back back to back to the back to the drawing board, then. Oh, wait,

K Anderson 34:15
what, like, Oh, I made to be straight because I didn’t get off with anyone.

David Ledain 34:20
Then I might as well be. But the fact that I could be, and that I could have a relationship with a girl. And this girl happened to turn out to be, you know, my prospective wife. And I think I think definitely after that occasion that her and I did get a lot closer. You know, maybe I said to her, That’s not right. I’m not really into that, you know, gay scene and copping off with people and I think one night stands and stuff because of course, I’d already done all that that you know, I Sort of milk to that woman think that

K Anderson 35:02
out to that one, I see what you did there. And that so so you’d kind of felt as though you got out of your system and that you were ready to move on.

David Ledain 35:14
I think so. But also, I felt something that I hadn’t ever felt before. And that was that I was falling in love and that like, spend a minute without this person. That’s the difference. You know, there had to be with her all the time. And, you know, other girlfriends that I’d had, it was like, of making excuse

K Anderson 35:37
bedico go and see or Yeah,

David Ledain 35:39
yeah, you know, just just sort of keep it quiet. And that’s why not that way, but you know, not be disrespectful, whatever. as we as we are supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. But with, with my wife, it was completely, completely different. And we just completely clicked and we got each other. And, you know, I think had my sexuality not been an issue. As in, you know, had I been 100% heterosexual, I think we would have been together, certainly, for the rest of our lives. I think we were a good couple. We had fun together. And you know, there’s always a laugh when they’ve moved up to London together and started a new life and got new jobs. And it was all very exciting. But

K Anderson 36:35
did you have like a conversation about like, your past when you got together? If she knew? Yeah,

David Ledain 36:43
well, I think I can remember a conversation when I went with this guy who I worked with, to the nightclub in Brighton. And I remember having a conversation with her. But that was like at the very, very, very, very early days of when we were starting to get, you know, together. So she was just part of the group that we were hanging out with. And I do remember having a conversation and basically saying, I just don’t that’s not me. That’s not no. That’s not what I want. I’m not I’m not into that, you know? And, yes, I’ve had sex with guys and one night stands and stuff, but it’s not really what I want. And I don’t know what I want. But it’s not that. So we did have that conversation. But I think that that was the last time we spoke about

K Anderson 37:34
one of the big kind of the biggest points of stigma for bisexual people. And again, like I’m using, I’m using that term, although I know that we’re not kind of fixated on on term. Yeah. Is that like, Oh, never date a bisexual because they’re never happy with, like sticking with one sex and they’re always going to go off and sleep with someone else. Did you have like conversations about kind of what the rules were? And whether No,

David Ledain 38:02
it was, you know, I think we were both very naive. I thought that I could, as I say, compartmentalise it and control it, and it wouldn’t be an issue. And I think she felt that she could change me. Just through love, you know, and being together. We were very strong together. We were, you know, strong bond between us a strong couple. So there was never a conversation about it. It was just, you know, oh, you know, I’ve had a few flings. And it’s sort of, it’s sort of almost about well, I’ve got that out of my system.

K Anderson 38:38
Yeah.

David Ledain 38:38
But you know, they were very different times back then. And it was very, very difficult, you know, to be who you really were.

K Anderson 38:50
And so like, at what point how, like, How long had you been married before you got to the point where you were like, actually, this isn’t quite right for me. I need to figure this out.

David Ledain 39:01
Yeah, what it was quite quite a long time. You know, time sort of slips by Cray crazy speed. And so we lived in London and then we moved back down to Chichester in West Sussex and had our first son and I was before that, working in Epson in sorry. And I was commuting. And she was working nearer to her home in Chichester, and she was earning more money. So it sort of made sense for her to go back to work. And she was quite happy to do that. You know, she was a career woman. She wanted a career. And so I stayed at home and brought up my son and then our second son came along, and my first was at that stage at nursery school. And it was at the time when home computers were just starting to be a thing. And the internet was just starting to open up. So of course I had time on my hands and what’s what’s the saying about light hands? The devil makes?

K Anderson 40:04
Oh, yeah. What is it? The devil makes well of light? Yeah, something like that. And he’s sorry, I was just thinking about the startup sound from a modem when you were talking about the early days of the internet. It’s just that was that was what was going through my head. Yes.

David Ledain 40:21
Yeah. Oh, God, it was dreadful. Amazing. Well, it was amazing that you could actually, you know, get this sort of interaction over the internet with, with other people. And porn, of course, was the thing that was suddenly available in, in in the privacy of your own home.

K Anderson 40:42
Yes, it just it took five minutes for a picture to load, but it was there. Yeah.

David Ledain 40:48
And the trouble was, of course, that I had time on my hands, because my youngest, my oldest son was at that point, that nursery school, and there’s so much, there’s only so much hoovering and dusting. So I was on the internet. At this stage, also, I was I was writing, I decided that I was going to write that, that book that had always been going around in my head. And anyways, because the internet was very slow. So anything that you got on the internet, you would download it to keep it for later, because then you could, you could view it easier. And basically, I think what I did was not hide it well enough, I was desperate at that point, for her to realise what was going on. And for myself to realise what was going on. That, you know, this couldn’t be sustained, that I was always sort of, you know, in the shadows, my whole life was revolving around, living in the shadows and putting on a false pretence. And, you know, people are very, very gullible, you know, they just accept what you show them, you know, the face and the facade that you put on, is basically what they think is genuine. And they don’t question that. So, yeah, so this says stuff on the internet. Also, john joined a chat room forum, and was talking to another dad, who, a gay dad. And for some reason, I kept the dialogue that we had on a Word document somewhere, and I basically I left it, and she found that, wow. And that was like, you know, that was the bombshell. And she was pregnant with our second child at the time. And so yeah, it was really tough, really, really tough.

K Anderson 42:37
And so this this conversation that you’d saved, was it a sexual conversation? Or was it like a peer? Kind of?

David Ledain 42:45
Yeah, no, it was very, it was very much of a, you know, I don’t know what to do. I’m in this situation, I can’t find I can’t figure a way out, how do I do something with not hurting her and I just needed other people’s stories and experiences because I, you know, you genuinely think that you’re the only one who’s living that, that that scenario? Yes. Was it’s just not the case. But I just didn’t know where to turn. And I was, I was desperate, my guess. But But thankfully, you know, something I’d done. You know, my subconscious had decided that I would leave this material that, yeah, it wasn’t, it wasn’t sexual or anything like that. But I would leave it so that she would find it so that she would realise what, what what I was going through. But of course, you know, for I mean, imagine for her to find.

K Anderson 43:37
So what was that conversation like, then after she’d found

David Ledain 43:40
out, I, at that point, I’d got a small part time job with some friends working in their office doing some finance for them. And she was working from home, I think she was either on maternity leave, or you know, getting quite close to that point. So she was working at home, that’s how she was on the computer. And I got a call at the office. And she said, I’ve I found you know, this stuff. And come home. So, so I have to go home and we had this conversation and Oh, God, it was like, so ridiculous. Because even then I was saying, Oh, you must realise that that’s not who I am. That’s just, you know, a part of me. It doesn’t change our relationship. And it doesn’t mean I love you any less, or, or anything like that, you know, and I don’t see us not being together. Well, of course, I was trying to find a way out. But even that because she was obviously so distraught and so hurt by what she’d discovered. And I was backtracking i was i was saying, you know, don’t worry, don’t worry, we’ll still be together forever.

K Anderson 44:52
And how did she respond to that?

David Ledain 44:55
Well, obviously, there was tears and it was really Bad. But, you know, we had another child on the way. And I think neither of us could sort of see an easy answer to the situation. And we just fell into this, looking after the children, and bringing a new baby into the world. And that was the important thing. But, you know, in the following years, because we stayed together for, I think it was over five years after that, we basically led more and more separate lives. You know, I was the one that was at home looking after the children. And she was so she was at work, she was often our meetings and wait for weekends on on, you know, work dues and stuff. And so we just basically trotted trolled along and make the best of it, really. But, you know, after a number of years, there came a point where she said, No, I need to, you know, build my own life, and I need to do something I need to get out of this situation. So she, she, she left the family home, and set up our own home just down the road.

K Anderson 46:09
I mean, that’s a super brave, brave thing to do, isn’t it? How did you hurt? Yeah. How did you respond to that? When she made that decision?

David Ledain 46:18
I thought, well, I just think it was a part relief, really part real sadness, that we’d come to that point. And that she, she was leaving me, she was, you know, that was awful. Any separation or divorce is, is bad. And you know, people get separated and divorced for all sorts of reasons. So it’s not just now obviously, there is a stigma attached to it. But you know, people, people decide to change their life paths for all sorts of reasons. And it’s, you know, when you’ve got kids, it’s just who for because you have that responsibility to them. And that’s not how you want things to be. But there was no alternative. So, and she left and set up home, just down the road. So the children, you know, I mean, they just thought it’s strange, because they, since I realised that they never had that conversation about why mum and dad was splitting up. And

K Anderson 47:25
because yeah, that’s what I was gonna ask, like, did you have a conversation with your wife about what you would tell your children?

David Ledain 47:32
No, no, it was all very, it was all very strange. And, you know, things were unsaid rather than said, you know, she, she’d I can remember her telling me that she, you know, come to this decision that she couldn’t carry on anymore. And I said, Well, I can’t tell the boys, I can’t do it. I think you’ve got to, you know, I will be here. And we’ll do it together. But you’ve got to be the one who tells. And my eldest, you know, he was very upset.

K Anderson 48:07
How old? Was he, at this time?

David Ledain 48:09
I think he was must have been 10 authentische. Okay. And I can remember him cradling our young son saying, Oh, you know, Mom and Dad are getting divorced. And, and he was,

he was really upset. And we were saying, No, no, no, we’re not getting divorced, we’re just, you know, we’re just separating, we’re still going to be here, Mom’s going to be down the road. And we’re still going to be a family, and we’re still going to do things together. And we did, you know, we made an effort to be a family together. And so, you know, another few years went by, and we settled into that routine. But by this stage, of course, I had more freedom, I, you know, I had to realise that, you know, now is the time for me to, you know, explore my sexuality and try and find other men, other gay dads who are in a similar situation to me. And I did, I found a support group online, which were based in Brighton and not far from me. And so I sort of got in contact with them. And it was just such a relief just to talk to other guys, you know, who had had similar experiences, very different experiences, I have to say some really, really, you know, acrimonious and really bitter and awful. And some, you know, like mine where they just sort of drifted apart.

K Anderson 49:44
And so I have in my mind, this kind of image of like a town hall or a church or something where you will come together and sit in a circle. Is that what the group was like? No. Shadow my illusion. So what was it like? And what was I’m assuming you met in person as a group?

David Ledain 50:04
We did. Yeah, we did. Um, so this, this was an online group. So there’s there was guys who were in it from all over the country. So that what that what they the organisers did was organised a couple of meet-ups each year. So one in Brighton and one and one in London, I think. And so everyone would congregate a couple of times a year and that basically so that was, you know, a night out with people that you’ve been speaking to on now.

K Anderson 50:32
I thought it’d be like a box of tissues in a circle in like some shabby little gentle.

David Ledain 50:38
Well, no, but I think we would. We were doing that online online, helping each other. You know, online, I think. So, yeah, so that was that was good for me. But it helped me to find my path.

K Anderson 50:56
So if we go back to Granny’s,

David Ledain 50:59
she could, you know, I could do that. That would be some fun. See, all those people again? Did Oh, my mum’s hairdresser turned up one night with his boyfriend. And I said to the boyfriend, oh, forgot. Please, please don’t say anything. To my mom. How

K Anderson 51:18
did you know your mom’s hairdresser?

David Ledain 51:21
But because they were just down the road. You know, I used to go to the same hairdresser. Okay, okay.

K Anderson 51:27
Sorry. That was not the thing for me to pick up on. Sorry. Carry on.

David Ledain 51:30
Yeah. So. And yeah, so they spotted me. And I spotted them as Oh, my God, how do I get this one? So I said, I had a conversation with the boyfriend. And I said to him, Well, please don’t, you know, please don’t divulge where you’ve seen me. He didn’t, but the other one did. So it’s like you. So then I remembered Sunday lunch, round my house. And I had a sort of girlfriend, I think at that point, as well. And we had a very turbulent relationship is very odd. And

she there at lunch. She was at the long hallway, okay. And, and my brother was there. And, you know, as a family lunch, my dad was because they were divorced. And my mom, she’d saved this is what he was doing. So she’s because she’s to have her hair done on a Thursday. So this, the Thursday was like the day after Wednesday. So she saved this snippet up the information that she was going to divulge at the dinner table on the Sunday with my girlfriend there. And she said, Oh, what was his name? Graham. Graham said he saw you on Wednesday night that Granny’s. What’s that all about? Then? It’s like, oh, oh, I’m sorry. At this point, what colour were you like plum?

Green. Item is like this. And my girlfriend. At that time, she knew, because she was part of that, that sort of seeing. And she sort of looked at me, and I was like, you know, trying to try to hide in my dinner. And I said, Oh, it’s just it’s just, they have this night on a Wednesday night. And they and they call it it’s the radical night. And that was it. And I sort of labeled it something else. I’ve called it the radical night. It wasn’t the gay night. It was the radical night so with, with people who were a bit cool and radical go, you know. And that that was that was the end of it. It was like, I don’t know what she I don’t know what she thought she was doing. I think, to be fair, she’s no longer with us. But I think to be fair, what she was doing was giving me an opening to say, you know what, actually, I’m gay. But of course, I couldn’t have said that, then I there’s no way I could.

K Anderson 53:58
And you could you would, you know, choose to do that one on one when he would? I think, I think I think she just didn’t like your girlfriend at the time and wanted to give her a reason to be bad at

David Ledain 54:14
it. She was saying to the girlfriend, you know, don’t hang out with this guy. Because, as you know, but also when when I said to my mom about my wife and I getting married. She said her reaction was why do you want to do that? And again, at the time, I just thought that one nasty thing. But I think she knew I think she knew that. But she just couldn’t actually could not because she was like, you know, brought up in a time when those sort of things weren’t talked about. She just could not have that conversation. And she could not give me the space to tell her how he would have been a whole different story. I think so fascinating.

K Anderson 55:00
So was she there’s this type of, you know, stiff upper lip kind of British very like, nothing. Really.

David Ledain 55:10
quite like the gays, she was a bit of a fag ends, you know, she, she quite liked all that. And she’d be the one you know, who’d be sitting in the stalls deck every show with her hand. laughing, you know.

K Anderson 55:25
But so but for her to say, why would you want to do that? Was that like, particularly out of character for her? Or was that something that you would expect her to say? In a kind of?

David Ledain 55:35
No, I expected, I expected to say, oh, how lovely. You know, when’s the wedding or get a get a hat? And you know, I’ve got to think about what I’m going to wear and oh, you know, it’d be lovely to have grandchildren soon or whatever. But now our reaction was, Why do you want to do that? And I just thought what a horrible thing. It was. And in my head, she was saying, Why do you want to marry her? You know? Yeah. That’s That’s what I thought she was saying. But it’s only you know, over time that I think what she was saying she was giving me the opportunity, or what she was trying to say was, don’t do it, because I know. I know what’s going on.

K Anderson 56:19
Did you ever go to Granny’s nightclub? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Tell me all your stories and share any photos that you might have from those times through social media. You can find me on most every platform with the username K Anderson music. And you can also follow David on Facebook and Twitter with the username David le Dane, and check out the rainbow dad’s podcast of which David is a contributor. No spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the next year. You can hear the first single well grim boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left your review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to Lost Spaces.







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