Dale Wakefield (1941 – 2020)
Dale was born in Bishopston, Bristol, during the Second World War. She married and had two children but the marriage broke up when the youngest was months old and Dale went to London to work as a prison officer. There she fell in love with a woman although no relationship ensued, and she returned to Bristol in the early 1970s.
She came out first on the gay scene, then became an activist in the Women’s Movement. With Monica Sjöö and two others she established Move magazine, which was produced by a collective. Attending a Gay Women’s Group meeting in Clifton, the constant phone calls received at the premises (from gay men and lesbians alike) alerted her to the enormous need for information and a friendly ear. Bristol Gay Switchboard was founded at Dale’s home in Hill Street, Totterdown on February 1, 1975, using her private phone line.
For over three years it ran from her house, with volunteers taking phone calls during the advertised hours and Dale answering at all other times, often during the night. In 1978 Switchboard moved to new premises at Bristol Gay Centre, although Dale remained involved until the early 1980s. She later helped organise Bristol Lesbian Line, although the initial idea was not hers.
Dale worked as a teacher, a nurse and in later years in accounts. After 2002 she lived in Knowle, a mile or so from Hill Street, had four grandchildren and was an enthusiastic internet user.
She died in Bristol Royal Infirmary, 5th September 2020.
Written by Andrew Foyle; edited by Chris Leigh
Last edited 28/9/2020