- Jokes the college told her: ‘If you are going to be gay, at least be clever.’
Lesbian TV host Sandi Toksvig has revealed Cambridge University almost kicked her out because her girlfriend stayed the night.
However the Danish-British comedian, author, presenter eventually got to stay because of her ‘excellent academic record’.
Toksvig, now 62, joked that the college told her that ‘if you are going to be gay, at least be clever’.
But she said at the time the incident was ‘extremely painful and distressing’.
She was born in Denmark but her father was a journalist so she spent much of her childhood travelling. As a result, she went to school and then university in England.
She recalled the trouble she got into with her girlfriend on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends podcast about her time at Girton College, Cambridge:
‘Boys were staying all the time. They were part of the furniture. But yes, they decided that really I needed to go.’
However, Toksvig – who read law, archaeology and anthropology at Girton – had a reprieve:
‘In the end, and this is very pleasing, they allowed me to stay because of my excellent academic record. So if you are going to be gay, at least be clever.
‘What [they] don’t want is gay stupid people. That is not something [they want].’
Girton ‘almost certainly founded by a lesbian’
And she told the podcast much has changed since her student days, including at Girton College:
‘It seems sort of hard to believe that they would be so distressed. Especially when you look at the history of Girton College, which was almost certainly founded by a lesbian.
‘But that is a bit they liked to skate over. They were very distressed to find I had a woman staying with me.’
Indeed, Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon founded Girton College as the first women’s college at Cambridge University in 1869. It became co-educational in 1976.
However Toksvig said the college and its current Mistress have now apologized to her for the incident. Indeed, they even hosted an LGBT+ dinner in her honor.
She said: ‘But the good story about this, because it was extremely painful and very distressing, i the present mistress of Girton College, Susan J Smith, she had a ceremony where they made me a fellow.
‘We had a big LGBT dinner in the hall at Girton and she apologized on behalf of the college.
‘So what you have to believe is it will all come right in the end.’