Outback Newsletter, 1997-2008.: A Lesbian Lifeline

Outback Newsletter for Lesbians in Cornwall and the Far South West. 

On an unassuming shelf at Kresen Kernow, the Cornwall records office, lies two boxes of queer joy. They contain 150 issues of the Outback Newsletter for Lesbians in Cornwall and the Far South West: a newsletter written, produced, and distributed by a group of gay women based primarily in Penzance between 1996 and 2008.

Self published LGBTQ+ magazines were an incredibly important resource to the community in pre-internet days. For the first time, lesbian women living in rural areas of Cornwall and the far South West were able to make contact with one another, plan events, organise protests, provide support and ultimately grow a community.

Newsletters like Outback helped build the LGBTQ+ community in Cornwall, and their impact cannot be underestimated. 

Queer Kernow worked with Kresen Kernow to catalogue all 150 issues of the Outback Collection. We also worked on sharing the collection with Cornwall’s current LGBTQ+ community through a workshop in which we created our own zines for 2022, using the overarching themes from the original newsletter as a starting point of inspiration. 

This online exhibition looks at those themes one by one, and explores how they are represented over 12 years and 150 issues of the Outback Newsletter. You will have the opportunity to watch or listen to a documentary produced by Queer Kernow, as well as hear oral histories from some of the women involved with the Outback Collection. The voices of three women who were involved in the Outback Newsletter can be heard in each section, detailing their lived experience of living and working on Outback.

This project has been made possible thanks to funding from Kresen Kernow, Queer Heritage Collections Network, and Cornwall Museums Partnership. In addition to this online exhibition, the entire collection of Outback Newsletter has been accessioned and individually documented to encourage greater access and further research.