These stories highlight the ongoing importance of Lesbian Visibility Day

Jake Hall
Friday 27 April 2018 13:45
Photo: iSTOCK / praetorianphoto

Earlier this week, a series of activists and trailblazers took to Twitter to mark Lesbian Visibility Day.

The annual event was coined back in 2008, designed as an opportunity to spotlight lesbian trailblazers, to celebrate their achievements and to acknowledge their vital contributions to the LGBT+ movement, which has resulted in so many small battles being won.

Incidentally, website AfterEllen last year published an article highlighting the comparatively muted coverage of Lesbian Visibility Day, indicating that LGBT+ representation rarely extends far enough.

With this in mind, we reached out to a series of women to speak about their experiences by sharing the worst thing that's ever been said to them because of their sexuality.

Carrie, Editor at DIVA Magazine

I've had many hurtful things said to me over the years, but one that stick out in my mind was from the mother of a friend of mine. I was 16 and hadn't long since come out.

She left me a very angry and threatening voicemail, in which she said: 'Stay away from my daughter.'

To this day I don't know what I did to deserve that, but I can only assume that my friend told her I was a lesbian, and that she thought it might be contagious. I never saw that friend again, and I don't think I've even told anybody about that voicemail before. I might appear confident and open about my sexuality, but it's taken me a long time to realise that she was the one who was broken, not me.

Naomi, Senior Care Assistant

I was just jumped by a group of men when I was 21.

They broke my arm with a metal pipe, and they were calling me a 'dyke' - the usual.

Then, one said: 'I'm going to rape you to show you what you're missing out on.'

My partner still tears up when we talk about it.

Amber Cadaverous, drag queen

Literally this week I turned down a man on public transport. He then responded by harassing me, saying: "You don't know what you're missing. Have you at least tried it? You just haven't met the right man yet..."

I was just sat on this bus looking at this man; he was a lot older than me and it was completely unsolicited. Then he tried to say at least I hadn't led him on.

He ended by saying it was such a shame, and that I was 'too pretty to be a lesbian'.

That's another thing. Because I appear femme, people - even in LGBT+ spaces - always assume I'm straight.

It isn't the worst thing, but now I think about it, it always used to upset me when I was in a relationship because friends and family would always purposely say "your friend" as opposed to girlfriend or partner.

Because fuck my sexuality, right?

Oh, and there's also that idea that lesbians don't have 'real sex' - it's the worst!

Louise, retail supervisor

The worst thing I can remember was the first time I saw my dad after telling him I was in a relationship with a woman.

In front of her, he said: 'When you told me, I thought I had failed as a father.'

Chardine, cultural producer and activist

The worst thing is that people assume I'm straight just because I'm a black, feminine woman.

Black femmes exist.

It's amazing how many people are surprised by this - even other queer people.

These stories all highlight the ways in which lesbian identities are often policed, denied or met with violence; they also highlight the crucial importance of dedicating the spotlight to a group of marginalised people whose voices too often get drowned out in wider discussions of LGBT+ rights.

This week has seen a number of Twitter users seek to remedy this erasure by sharing selfies, stories and vital historical facts often nudged out of LGBT+ narratives. Their collective posts are a key reminder of the importance of acknowledging lesbian trailblazers, both past and present.

More: Lesbian mum told she 'has to have sex with a man' to have her baby legally recognised in Italy