This week is Lesbian Visibility Week: a time to take pride in ourselves, see ourselves reflected back, and know we are not alone. As lesbians, we are a small minority in a sea of heterosexuality. It can be lonely and hard to find community and relationships. It always has been, as any homosexual knows. It’s why something like Lesbian Visibility Week can be uplifting and help us feel just a little less alone in this world.
Over the last decade, we as lesbians have seen our culture and identities colonized and stripped from us at the alter of “trans inclusion.” Men claiming to be lesbians and women who are not lesbians claiming to simply “identify” as a lesbian demanding a place at our table. A table our foremothers spent years building and setting.
After years of fighting against my own homosexuality, when I finally accepted myself as a lesbian, I desired more than anything to find my lesbian community. To be in the presence of lesbians again, and feel the safety of those spaces. A space where I could be myself more than I can ever be in the everyday world I must walk through. It was a very sad reality I woke up to as a 40-year-old lesbian. I went to my local LGBT community in search of lesbian groups or activities; I found nothing. Not one thing that was for lesbians. My heart sank. I felt lost, alone and confused. The feeling of being adrift came back to me, a feeling I had not felt since I was 19 and realized I was sexually attracted to women.
My despair did not silence me. It did not discourage me. As much as I’m sure they might have wanted me to slink away and accept the progressive erasure of my identity, I did not. No! It made me angry, righteous anger, anger that brings about change. It brought a fire to my guts and an urgency to take back what had been stolen. I first made it known that I was not having any of this “men can be lesbians” nonsense. I didn’t care how many of my friends I might lose or how many social media time-outs I got. A funny thing started to happen: I began to find other lesbians like myself. Lesbians who also were fighting back. Lesbians in their 70s who had already done all this work before but were picking up the ax again. Lesbians my age, who had been down the same road I had only to find a dead end. Lesbians in their 20s who had been told since they were young teens that their same-sex attraction wasn’t inclusive enough. Lesbians who had bought into our own oppression and tried to become men only to see the truth after our folly.
I want to tell you that there is more hope than you might think. There are thriving lesbian communities all over the United States. There are private groups and gatherings. There are lesbians building their own websites, social media apps, and festivals. Lesbians working in schools, politics and even within the LGBTQ community itself. Trying to hold space for us, trying to give visibility to our reality. Older lesbians who get on TikTok just to show our young sisters that it’s normal and ok to be a lesbian. We are building community, holding the line, and fighting back.
The template is already set for us. Our foremothers did so much of the work. Much of our history is archived, wonderful beautiful art and writings. Here are two links to get you started on your journey: Lavender Woman and Lesbian Herstory.
However, it takes action on your part too. If you want things to be better you must fight for it. A recent conversion I had with a woman really made me think about this. She said that space is not granted; it’s taken, and to add to this, it’s demanded. I know it’s not easy for us to stand our ground and demand our space. So many of us are taught to be kind, that to be mean is the worst thing a woman can do. But ask yourself what they mean by “being kind.” Are you being kind at your own exclusion and pain? Then it is not kind. Ladies, there are worse things than being “unkind.” Oftentimes the truth is not kind. I found this essay to be very enlightening.
This is Lesbian Visibility Week, not LGBTQ visibility, not feminine visibility, not identity visibility and definitely not male visibility. It’s lesbian visibility, so stand up and be visible. Take your space, be honest, be strong, be a dyke, be a butch, stud or femme, be none of those, just be you, be a lesbian.
I know we are fighting a hard battle right now, and I know it can seem like we may never win. But during this week of lesbian visibility and for all the other weeks in the year, remember that lesbians have always existed and we always will. Look around you, we are everywhere. We are still here, we have always been here. We are beautiful, we are strong and we will build our table; we will set it and we will feast together.
Happy Lesbian Visibility Week,