Category Archives: Listening 2 Lesbians

Lesbian voices about lesbian lives

In Memoriam: Lesbian Murder Victims (March 2019 Update)

Lesbians in Memoriam

We honour the following sisters:
  • Brenda Lorena Alvarado Montoya (2019) – Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Thuthukile Mabasa (2018) – Capetown, South Africa
  • Nicole Saavedra (2016) – Valparaiso, Brazil
  • Sidney Loofe (2017) – Nebraska, USA
  • Anne Mikaelly (2018) – Brasilia, Brazil
  • Unathi Bixa (2017) – Capetown, South Africa
  • Charlene Ranstrom and Brenda Warner (1988) – Nashua, New Hampshire
  • Cassie Hayes (2018) – Southport, Mercyside, England
  • Marielle Franco (2018) – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Elke W. and Beate N. (2016) – Gersthofen-Hirblingen, Germany
  • Anisha and Joey van Niekerk (2017) – Magaliesberg, South Africa
  • Kaladaa Crowell (and her 11 year-old daughter, Kyra Inglett) (2017) – West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
  • Noxolo Xakeka (2018) – Lwandle, South Africa
  • Kerrice Lewis (2018) – Washington, D.C., USA
  • Shanta Myers and Brandi Mells (and Shanta’s two children, Shanise Myers and Jeremiah Myers) (2017)  – Troy, New York, USA
  • Josanne Maria Almeida da Silva and Ana Paula da Silva Pereira (2017) – Manaus, Brazil
  • Quezia Kassya (2017) – San Paulo, Brazil
  • Georgann Lee Smith (2009) – Sarasota, Florida, USA
  • Ana Flávia Leitão (2017) – Cataguases, Brazil
  • Irani Ribeiro de Medeiros (2017) – Várzea Grande (Mato Grosso), Brazil.
  • Felicia Dormans (2017) – Mount Holly, New Jersey, USA.
  • Lyndsey Vaux (2016) – Wigan, United Kingdom

Continue reading at: http://inmemoriamlesbian.blogspot.com/

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TO KILL A WOMAN, YOU DON’T NEED MUCH – THE STORY OF A CHECHEN LESBIAN WHO FLED FROM RUSSIA

To kill a lesbian in Chechnya

My family learned about my orientation from my girlfriend. She told my family – I do not know why. She is not a Chechen. After that, I started having problems, and I stopped communicating with her. I ran away from home twice. The first time I ran away, I was actively searched. Where I am hiding, my girlfriend told my relatives. After that, one of the brothers came for me, and we went home. My mother was unhappy with this. She told her brother: “Why did you bring her home? You should have shot her somewhere in the forest, as we agreed. ” But the brother did not do it – my father forbade him to do it.
(Translated)

О моей ориентации домашние узнали от моей девушки. Она рассказала моей семье – не знаю зачем. Она не чеченка. После этого у меня начались проблемы, и я перестала с ней общаться. Я дважды убегала из дома. В первый раз, когда я убежала, меня активно искали. Где я скрываюсь, моим родственникам рассказала моя девушка. После этого за мной приехал один из братьев, и мы поехали домой. Моя мама была недовольна этим. Она сказала брату: «Зачем ты привез ее домой? Ты должен был ее где-нибудь в лесу расстрелять, как мы и договаривались». Но брат этого не сделал – мой отец запретил ему это делать.
(Original)

Continue reading at: https://www.currenttime.tv/a/chechen-lgbt-refugee-monologue/29769095.html

Black Lesbian Resistance and Resilience: Sheila Alexander-Reid

Women in the Life 1994

Women in the Life Magazine in its second year of publication in 1994.

“In 1992, I started Women in the Life, Inc., an events management company that created safe spaces for Black lesbians to interact through dance parties, concerts, fundraisers, and open mic poetry sessions in over 50 locations in Washington, D.C. alone, not to mention Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Atlanta. Some of the many artists featured at Women in the Life events included Grace JonesC+C Music FactoryCeCe PenistonMeshell Ndegecocello, R. Erica DoyleSamiya A. BashirKarma Mayet JohnsonPamela SneedMichelle ParkersonVenus ThrashMichaela HarrisonBarbara Tucker, ONYX, and Staceyann Chinn. Over a ten-year period, with the help of friends Charlene Hamilton, Darlene Rogers, Chris Vera, Lois Alexander, the late Phyllis Croom and so many more, I published a total of 86 issues of Women in the Life Magazine, which addressed issues that impacted our community both in Washington, D.C., throughout the United States, and internationally. The magazine was distributed nationally.

Continue reading at: https://thefeministwire.com/2019/02/black-lesbian-resistance-and-resilience/

AfterEllen’s Response to NBC OUT (Full Statement)

by Memoree Joelle
AfterEllen.com

“Lesbians should absolutely be “allowed” to have a mainstream publication. We should absolutely be allowed to discuss issues (documented and evidence-based realities) that lesbians are currently facing, as they specifically pertain to and affect lesbians.

Being an ally should not require lesbians to deny their own reality. It should not require lesbians to relinquish all autonomy, to believe exactly as others do, or fall silent.

This goes much deeper than a simple statement. There’s been an ongoing campaign of homophobia directed exclusively at lesbians, and when our writers try to cover these issues, as they specifically pertain to and affect lesbians, we’re shouted down by non-lesbians with slurs and anti-lesbian sentiment. Enough is enough.”

Continue reading: AfterEllen’s Response to NBC OUT (Full Statement) (source)

Harassment and teasing: what lesbians live in Peru

Carolia Silva Santisteban

If I go out with my girlfriend or with the girl that I am in that moment I have to consider in what district I am to know how expressive I am going to be for my integrity and the safety of the person who accompanies me. I have a male gender expression … I am exposed to teasing and insults.
(Translated)

Si yo salgo con mi novia o con la chica que estoy en ese momento tengo que considerar en qué distrito estoy para saber qué tan expresiva voy a ser por mi integridad y la seguridad de la persona que me acompaña. También está el acoso callejero. Tengo una expresión de género masculina… Estoy expuesta a burlas e insultos.
(Original)

Continue reading at: https://peru21.pe/peru/carolina-silva-santisteban-lesbiana-peru-464305 (Source)

Lesbian Mothers and the Serbian Government

Every lesbian kiss is a revolution

European Lesbian* Conference has been following closely the lesbian Serbian news lately. As the lesbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and her partner were expecting a child, our Strategy Dykerector Dragana Todorovic gave several interviews to the media to explain how very peculiar this situation was.

The child is now born and this birth led to the burst of lesbophobic comments. One of the opposition leaders even said «The children are hungry in this country and the son of the Prime ministre can feed on four boobs». Lepa Mladjenovic, a legend of lesbian activism, sent us  a text to react to this news. Her words on the situation of lesbian mothers and the lesbophobia in Serbia are very powerful. We thank her very much for sharing this with all of you, and wish you all a great reading.

Continue reading at: https://europeanlesbianconference.org/lesbian-mothers-and-the-serbian-government-by-lepa-mladjenovic/ (Source)

Burundi: The secret language of lesbian love

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Over a period of a few months, the BBC spoke to dozens of young lesbians in a country where homosexuality is illegal. They told us about their day-to-day lives and how they use secret memes to connect with each other on social media platforms and chat apps.

“There are ‘invisible’ lesbians in every country. We are just one part of it.”

“If we exist here, we exist everywhere.”

We need to be heard.”

If you know that we exist, you may start looking for us in your own communities, and in your own families.”

Continue reading at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/secret_lesbian_language (source)

Israel’s Cruel Treatment of a Lesbian Mom After Her Partner’s Tragic Death

Omra Levi-Hazan

Yael Levi-Hazan was a lecturer, researcher and translator, a well-known figure in academia and in the LGBT community. She had lived in Be’er Sheva since 1998 and was one of the community’s founders in the southern part of the country. The home she shared with her partner, social worker and therapist Omra Levi-Hazan, was a magnet for every LGBT person who moved to the Negev and was seeking an adoptive family.

In October 2017, the couple moved to a new house in Be’er Sheva with their son, Ma’ayan, to whom Yael had given birth three-and-a-half years earlier. At the end of that month, Omra gave birth to their daughter, Nuri. On the night between November 30 and December 1, just five weeks after Nuri’s birth, Yael, 39, was killed in a car crash on Highway 431, while she was on the way to her mother’s house, in Tel Aviv. Omra was left with two small children and without the woman who had been her partner for the previous decade.

Welsh football player says ‘school was hell on earth’ because she is a lesbian

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Wales’ most decorated footballer, Jessica Fishlock MBE says her experience at school was “hell on earth” because of abuse over her sexuality.
Fishlock says her sexuality never scared her in adolescence, but that she soon realised society was less accepting than she was of the fact she was gay.

“I think I knew when I was 12 that I love women, right? Whatever,” she says.

“I remember the moment clear and I wasn’t mad about it. Like it was OK. But the biggest thing for me was trying to manoeuvre my life with knowing that information. It wasn’t something I was scared of.

“It wasn’t something that I just disliked and made me dislike myself for who I was. But I didn’t understand why it was such a negative thing. That’s where for me it was something that I just couldn’t really stand. You know, does it matter?

“Even at a very young age going through that, 20 years ago, I never understood why it was a problem. And it’s even worse now. I don’t understand the problem.

“The turning point for me was when I just realised that I wasn’t the problem. The problem was the society in school. Not the kids in school because they don’t understand; the society and the thought process around it was the problem.”

Continue reading at: https://www.bbc.com/sport/wales/47093685 (source)

Lesbian widows – seeking your stories

We are seeking the stories from lesbians to show how anti lesbian sentiment and structures affect us in relation to the death of our partners, wives and girldfriends.

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Since Lisa died I have joined the ranks of lesbian widows – lesbians whose partner, wife or girlfriend has died.

In this time I have heard stories of how bereaved lesbians have been treated by authorities, families, friends, workplaces, support groups.

Some stories are of personal hostility, others are of legal structures which act to harm lesbians or simply fail to protect us.

We are looking to gather some of these stories for Listening2Lesbians, to demonstrate  how homophobia and lesbophobia, whether by individuals, groups or social structures, can add to the already traumatic experience of losing a partner.

If you lost your partner as a lesbian, and have experiences to share, please write to us at liz@listening2lesbians.com or message us via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LlSTEN2LESBlANS/.

Submissions can be anonymous to protect privacy.

Lesbian “gay bashing”

Lesbian "gay bashing"

Guest post by Kate Hansen, with thanks to the women who so generously shared their experiences.

 

For feedback or to share your experiences, please email Liz@listening2lesbians.com or message us at https://www.facebook.com/LlSTEN2LESBlANS/


I was in a Facebook lesbian group, when someone posted the question: “Have you ever been gay bashed?” The stories which followed gripped me and moved me.  I decided to pose the same question on other group pages, and I made sure to ask everyone if they would allow their stories to be shared anonymously online.  I felt like these were something which needed to be shared with a wider audience. I don’t know if people even know the level of violence and hate that lesbians face, even in the modern world.  It can be straight up physical violence, or it can be just a series of microaggressions which erode the soul over time. There was no clear distinction between regions represented, dykes in the UK face the same level of violence in the USA.  I do appreciate the uniqueness of the voices. Another thing to note is that the flat out physical violence seemed to happen to those who were gender non conforming or butch, while more feminine presenting women deal with classic sexual harassment.

This story is dynamic and changing.  I believe this is the tip of the iceberg, and we would like to ask for contributions to this project.  If you have experienced gay bashing as a lesbian, please write to us and share, care of Listening 2 Lesbians.

-Kate Hansen


Run over by a car, kidnapped and held for five days. 21 stab wounds, no food and very little water, raped repeatedly and left for dead on the side of the road. I lost contracts in business. Umm ya this is a very sensitive subject. The younger people in our community sometimes forget the sacrifices we’ve made so that they can enjoy the freedoms we have today. Not preaching, just pointing out how violent it once was.


Yes indeed in downtown Baltimore many moons ago but was told I was a waste of a woman. Hate has no room in my life.


As a butch lesbian, born and raised in Alabama and travel for a living, I’ve never been bashed, i have been called out in bathrooms more times than I can count, but once they realized who they’re speaking to they apologized. I also open carry.


Yup. Lost all “friends” in my neighbourhood, went thru 4 yrs of bitches calling me out nearly every day in high school even tho I never came out about it.  Recently blocked a cousin for sending me bible quotes and messages about being an abomination.️ I’m still on top. Honestly Millennials and Zs don’t know how easy they have it.


Got stones thrown at me I came out to a friend and she yelled out ew your gay and a guy heard and he started to throwing them or some Christians quoting bible and parents blaming my auntie about her being gay for me turning out gay.


I’ve had issues with former coworkers on my life choices. Once I was told I was the devil and I was going to hell. She wouldn’t work with me because she didn’t want to catch the gay.


Just the usual from family and sometimes complete strangers. Had one kid start yelling Faggots from his truck to an ex and I when we were driving together. Hit a stop light and he kept smirking until we started talking trash back very loudly. Made him look like an ass. He rolled up his window pretty quickly and turned down a side street. My ex was in the military and I’m built like Xena, so I think we scared him.


Had friends bashed leaving the bar. One friend almost got killed because they hit him with a baseball bat. Put him in a coma for two weeks. He left Tucson after he recovered.. Most of the drag queens carry mace or razors when they leave.


Yeah, 1970s lost jobs and evicted, raped, and TONS of verbal bashing in public places and I was like having the attitude and VOICE to say “FUCK OFF just because my women are hotter than what you get” OR I would say “Your mom didn’t think so last night.” WHEN IN PUBLIC they can’t hit you because the first blow is a violent attack and if I wait I can kick ’em in the nuts in self defense. Always wait to clip the nuts in self defense, then no charges can be pressed really.


Yeah. From the college I attended, as well as several revoked job opportunities when they found out I was gay. Oh and my dad trying to kill me, as well as being kicked out.


When there’s a violent male, the energy is usually directed at my butch partner. We’ve never been bashed, but we’ve gotten out of minor scrapes. For example, my butch ex and I were at a blues bar, and this man became irate with me because I didn’t want to dance with him. She said “buddy, she doesn’t want to dance, leave her alone”. He got annoyed, ok angry, that I chose to be with a butch female instead of him. We left after that. Someone mentioned that we should have got him kicked out, but honestly we just weren’t feeling it after that.

Also my ex husband was violent with me when he figured out that I’m gay.


My girlfriend and I had big rocks thrown at us from a passing pickup truck when we were holding hands walking down the street. She got chased by a man who saw us kissing goodbye at a greyhound station, and he was yelling at her that he would make her like dick while he was chasing her. We were also chased together once, after going to the park around midnight and not realizing there were other people there. This was all around 1992. I haven’t been bashed recently, but I’m more careful now.

I should add that 2 of these events happened in San Francisco.


Beat up by 3 men, 14 broken bones and won’t even say what they did to my girlfriend at the time. Something we couldn’t get over because of my guilt not being able to stop it.


I’m an intimidating bitch, I have issues with guys, I don’t take shit from nobody.

However it’s sad in a way that my family uses it against me when we fight or make stupid comments about gays

Fuck em anyways.

Can’t tell me they aren’t a bit curious!


I navigated the Army during the mid eighties – early nineties; before even “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” I was raped by 4 “fellow” soldiers; they knew they could get away with it; one accusation of homosexuality and my career was over.  We all stayed quiet about it; they didn’t go to prison; I didn’t get a dishonourable discharge……just a vicious case of PTSD.


I have when I lived in a homophobic city/country my dad and a few neighbours my mom shut him up and I confronted the bs with the neighbour’s kid and to say the mom was not happy with him is a understatement . After my mom passed I got thrown out and bounced sofa to sofa ’til I got my own place then was sexually assaulted by a downstairs neighbour and now I got real bad anxiety and ptsd but my ex gf doesn’t understand I don’t want to be around men too much, esp. straight guys like her brother, but you know fuck it I’m about to be out of here real.


Yup,  beat up by three dudes for being a ‘fucking dyke’ one thing I did learn is I can fly through the air like Superman  just need to work on my landing though!


Yes my son’s father told people, I mean like most of our little city that he don’t want that fruity shit around my son that my son is gonna be gay because of me, I’m making him gay! This is my first time ever being attacked like this … And for a dude that hasn’t been around in 5 yrs (my son is 5) but my girl has been around since my son’s first birthday … What the fuck is he, right?   But my god did this really hurt me horribly. I also think that my son’s father is in the closet and maybe mad that we are out and having a good life while he is still hiding. But that’s not my fault I’m a woman no matter what, I’m gonna be a woman whether I’m with a man or a woman, I do women shit everything I do know I’ve done my whole life. Not just since I’ve been with my girl .. I was sooooo offended and felt embarrassed that he went to everyone we know and said shit like this.  Hurts.


1 Circa 1987/88 was a student in Bradford. 21 years old living with a girlfriend, also student but we worked the same bar. She was a barmaid, me DJ. One night walking home from a night out socializing, playing pool, we came home early. 9pm. About 1 minute from our flat, crossing the pub car park neighbouring us, two men stepped out and confronted us. One grabbed g/f basically sexually assaulting her, I naturally objected and he threw a punch at me. Then, I was as strong and as fit as a butcher’s dog. (I can also box, dad taught me) I’m fortunate, know how to look after self and am risk savvy, but this happened so quick. Both men attacked me as I prevented them tearing my g/f’s clothes.One punched her to the side of the head, knocking her out. They both set about me, but realized that I was a going to be a hand full. Eventually, they ran off when they realized about 30 or so punters from the straight pub were onlookers. I got to my feet, picked my g/f up and managed to stagger back to the flat, where our housemates got us attention at hospital. Not one person intervened, watching. When the police questioned us at the hospital, they told us not one witness could be found at the pub! Indeed, they questioned us as to why we were out at that time of night!?! 9pm? My g/f needed stitches to a wound in her ear and I was concussed but the police were determined to dismiss me as drunk. I had been playing pool for the lesbian pub team…not a drop!

One other occasion, same city and about the same time, g/f and I had gone to dinner; celebrating something. We were walking to the lesbian/gay bar in town for ‘after’ when a group of young men, about 15 or so, started catcalling insults. Dykes, queers, etc. What we really needed, you know the score. They ran up to us and I told her to go ahead into the bar and not turn round and if not there in 5 get help! For once, she, reluctantly did as she was told, as she knew what was going to happen, and she had never left me in a situation like that. I turned to face the group but no reasoning was to be had they simply piled on me and began punching, kicking etc. So, I did what I was taught in those situations, God Bless my working class, dog tough old dad, he was a bastard but as hard as nails! I latched onto the biggest by sinking my teeth into his crotch. Face protected, head tucked right into his groin so they could kick me, but he was getting it too. It seemed like forever, but the police came, called by Sarah et al. The mob ran off. Leaving me and the big lad locked on the pavement! I was dazed to say the least and he was yelping like a scalded puppy! Police were going to arrest me for assault, as seemingly, as one police officer said, I could have seriously injured the poor lad biting him there! No witnesses, no admissions from the lesbophobic shit who had started the beating, just me looking bruised and battered. I didn’t cut easily, so must not have been as bad in their opinion. Wouldn’t listen to us…I was a student teacher, my g/f a student social worker, he was a knuckle dragging arsehole, but male so must tell the truth. This was West Yorkshire, 30 years ago, at the height of Clause 28, where attitudes were shocking. However, this is the same constabulary, hounding women for saying there is no such thing as men becoming women! In my early 50s we are experiencing a blatant openness in aggression towards us. This Brexit debacle is emboldening the ignorant, vicious bigots who have lain dormant for so many years.

So many other occasions. Verbal to physical. I’m fortunate, I know how I react in these situations and as old as I get know that my mentality won’t change. My lesbianism is sacrosanct, my love and obligation to protect my partner has meant she has been spared this, as I would lay my life down to protect her, and she knows that. Lesbians need to ally with each other; women. Not men, not interested in what they think they know about us, we must take lessons from what has happened, carrying it into the present so that this blatant aggression surfacing against us doesn’t take us by surprise. It has always been thus!


The really bad one was in 2009 in Thousand Oaks, CA. I had been working on my car all evening replacing the starter, oil change etc., finally finishing around 11 pm. So I took the car out for a drive to see how it was running. I was sitting at a stop light waiting when all of the sudden I was rear ended. The light turns green so I pull through the intersection and then pull over to the side. I get out of the car and start walking to the back to car check the damage and swap information if needed. I never saw him coming because I was looking at my bumper he sucker punched me in the jaw. Next thing I remember I’m waking up on the road in a pool of my own vomit with my rainbow sticker on the ground next to me.

I ended having a broken jaw and a few facial fractures. However that was the last time anyone landed a hand on me, like that.

He did get caught a few months later because he did it again but this time was a gay man that had a camera in his car that caught the license plate of the guy. He was never charged with my incident because no evidence.


I was head butted by a skinhead, I’d left the Pride march, with a few others, to use the loo & when I came out there was a bunch of skinheads waiting outside the mens toilets & a couple outside the women’s. One of them called me a queer & tried to head butt me in the face, but he was way too tall and caught me on the forehead/top of the head, I was shocked more than hurt & I just took of running as fast as I could (I’d have given FloJo a run for her money) I wanted to shout a warning to anyone else in the toilets, but my voice wouldn’t work. It took me ages to get back to the Pride march – I’d run off in the wrong direction & the 1985 London Pride was nowhere near the size it is now – not so many qweer hetz. When I found the women I’d gone to the loos with, they’d come out in a group so they weren’t attacked, just verbal abuse & they’d forgotten me. I’ve had abuse shouted at me in the street, threatened & spat at, but that’s the worst physical violence I’ve suffered for being a lesbian. I have friends who were beaten up coming out of gay clubs & pubs.


Rocks thrown through windows, rainbow flag burned, all windows in both vehicles in driveway shattered and anti-gay language scrawled all over both cars with a sharpie

Motorcycle knocked to the ground

Contents of truck stolen and thrown into the streets of the neighbourhood

Happened around 1AM


When I came out in middle school a boy in my band class would hit me in the head on a daily basis with his drumstick and call me a nasty dyke. Another boy on my school bus would sit next to me and describe how it would feel to suck his dick the whole ride home. I was too scared to report him.


Yes, I’ve been bashed physically by some men; by the police and then the regular verbal butch bashings as well. I think the first time was coming out of a gay bar in my 20s. We were confronted by a group of young men who yelled and threw rocks at us and cornered us. I remember, thinking, why? Why is who I love a concern of yours? It’s inane. As a butch, the verbal lashings have been a constant fare in my life.


Coming out of the Blue Goose, a gay bar in Des Moines, in 1976-77 ish, carloads of straight high school boys would drive by repeatedly shouting slurs. One carload followed me as I walked to my car one night. Thankfully they didn’t do anything except yell. Long ago, far away.


I had  a neighbourhood kid set fire in my house in 1980. She had found out I am a lesbian. 


Several times over my lifetime, but the one time it was pretty bad was after my two friends and I had attended a show in Seattle (I think it might have been Concrete Blonde) and we were walking back to the car and walked past a group of young teens, about 5-6 young men and one woman.  The young woman said “which one of you’s the man???!!! fuckin’ dykes” and my friend who was a smartass (and stupidly risky) said “I am, and aren’t I cute??” and that woman did not like being sassed, so she ran after my friend and started beating her up and my other friend and I tried intervening, but every time we tried to protect our friend, the young men would kick us from behind and knock us down.  We felt trapped and fighting for our lives when we ran up to a bus that was parked at a bus stop and begged the driver to help us. The driver didn’t give a shit and refused to call the cops or help. But luckily, since there were people on the bus and multiple witnesses, the attackers took off. We got back to car and went to the hospital… the one friend had two broken ribs and my other one had a broken wrist, and my back was all bruised from being kicked in the back.  I was truly afraid they would kill us.


I was physically knocked down by a very large man when I was in New York visiting my family. This was maybe 12 yrs ago. My sister and I were walking home from the train and it was in the early evening. A really large wild haired dude came up to us and said Hello ladies. We said nothing back to him and he became irate very quickly. Then he looked at me and said Oh this one’s not a lady! I looked at him and said Fuck you! My sister and I started walking quickly ahead of him but he came up behind us screaming and yelling his head off and then he knocked me down. I fell on the ground, got back up but my hand was injured as I had fallen on it. My sister and I ran really fast and we were able to get away from him. We went to the police later and reported it and they drove around trying to find him. It was a fairly small town, my home town in NY. But they could not find him. In retrospect I think we were in a lot more danger than we realized at the moment. He was like a powder keg of  rage just looking for someone to go off on. Luckily we got away from him but my hand was injured for quite a while after that because my fingers had gotten pushed backward. It’s still scary when I think about it now, his rage.

Now as I write this I’m thinking that that was probably the first and only time in my life that I felt insulted not to be considered a “lady.”


Having people yell “fag” and “dyke” out of cars while walking with my girlfriends.

Having cars full of college age boys honk at us, pull over in front of us as we were walking on the side of the road late at night, open their doors and start to get out to scare us before driving off (or maybe someone in the car talked them out of it.)

Being told “What you should be holding is a dick” by a young male stranger while holding hands on the street.

Being harassed by my girlfriend’s farm boss about my “sexy” clothes one day, and hearing him say he loved saying that stuff to lesbians in particular. When I told others in the farming community about it, they fired me from my volunteer job, said they didn’t believe me and shunned me.

There are others I’d rather not recall or I’ve selectively forgotten.

I’ve lost more than 3 jobs over issues related to being a lesbian, also. People in general become more suspicious of me if I come out to them, even if they act accepting at first, and will sew all kinds of weird rumors about me & bash my reputation behind my back, the moment it would be convenient to silence me. Which really poisons communities against you and makes it difficult to hold your head up and move freely.

I’ve had men act like they were going to hit me, mostly for telling them to leave my gf alone when they were too persistent in bars and she didn’t have the nerve to, but when they turn around and actually look at me, they suddenly don’t want to hit anymore! I’m very small and usually pretty girl-looking, I think they realize it would be absurd.

It’s a constant series of daily microaggressions for me that have affected my life & forced me to have many career paths, put crushing stress on my relationships & given me diagnosed C-PTSD. If I could trade all that for getting hit once or twice, I would!


When I was about 28 I was leaving a gay bar in Buffalo NY, as I was unlocking my car a guy grabbed me around my neck from behind…he called me homophobic slurs and told me he was going to show me a real man…it was summer and very warm, all I had on was a tank top and shorts, he ripped them off of me, punched and slapped me  several times and raped me vaginally and annally…I did not scream, it was in the back of a very dark parking lot…all I did was cry…he threatened to kill me as he left….i was able to crawl back to the bar, bloodied and naked…the few women in the bar took me in, they locked the door, cleaned me up and found me some clothes…we did not call the police out of fear, they called my lover who came and picked me up.

I did not know who he was, nor had I ever seen him before…a few weeks later at work I started getting notes and threats left on my desk at work…this went on for weeks and I was terrified…this was in 1978 and there was nowhere to go to complain, if the company had known I was gay I would have lost my job, so I suffered for many months and eventually quit my job.  The man that raped me was someone I worked with, but I was never able to figure out who he was (big company)…I never went out again alone, received no mental health help, just suffered…My lover, a very large male identified butch, protected and shielded me as did our friends from the bar….but the rape and harassment I keep locked up inside of me for more than 20 years, finally I received therapy and am able to reconcile internally what happened, but it never goes away, it is always there lurking in the back of my mind…


I expected and was heavily defended against the gay bashing and was bashed several times. But what hurt me the most was the butch bashing from within the lesbian community. There was a woman who professed to be a Wiccan witch, who never, ever miss the opportunity to remind myself and others about how male identified I was.  How unacceptable that was, to be a lesbian within a lesbian community and male identify. At the time I was a total separatist. I had no man in my life. I had no interest in them. But the fact that I dressed and conducted myself without femininity, did not rely on any kind of feminine tricks, meant I was male identified. The most devastating Butch bashing, for me, came from my feminist sisters. Ultimately I decided that the wiccans weren’t any nicer than the Christians and let them all go.


I have been shot at, had a person try to kill me by stabbing me with an ice pick, had brake lines cut, lug nuts loosened, been threatened lots back in the day.  Got bashed by women also–“Baby Killer” because I wanted to keep my military job. Lost custody of my daughter because the judge thought she should experience a “real traditional family.”  Didn’t see her for 3 years. There’s more, but I won’t bore you.


1. Yelled at “dyke!” In a shopping mall …

2. Nearly run over by a guy in a car…

3. Threatened with rape by a couple of straight teenage boys who grabbed my breasts and shirt.

4. Three drunk Gay men threatened to rape me. “Hey cunt, you just need a man! stop being such an angry bulldyke. We know a man who will make you like men! Hah hah!

5. Transwoman raped me. ” this will teach you!! You are a bad girl and you made me mad! And don’t you dare say no nasty butch dyke!”

6. Transwoman raped me. “You owe me. I took you to a party, you stupid Lez, you f-ing dyke!!”!

7. Construction workers yelling dyke! Etc.

I have a hella PTSD. And I find most LGBT people are actually not aware of or sensitive to the fact that gay men and transwomen can be misogynistic and lesbophobic and / or rapists or sexual harassment or assault perpetrators.


I’ve been followed when I left a gay bar.  Had to outrun them, first on foot, then in my car.  I finally made it to a police station. I didn’t think that the cops would help me, but I hoped that the men chasing me thought otherwise.  They did give up the chase and I never had to directly interact with those cops. Another time a girlfriend and I had very sinister men calling us slurs for lesbian and woman while coming at us.  We ended up dodging cars (on foot) across a highway to get away from them.


While working@ amazon warehouse on lane letter D someone was trying to close/open pallets and looking for small boxes of like d005 and large boxes for d026 or something and I’m doing a 2 person conveyor job with my back turned and the young republican who during election time routinely yelled “hail trump” and “trump is god” and loved WWE yelled “oh here’s a big D for you, need another one? There’s a D right here!”

I believe that was simple harassment but I reported it instantly and when leaving work he and a friend attempted to run me off the road!

Also had a “queer” female with a “he/him” nametag give me this line following my refusal to declare my pronouns to “him” she went on to say how she never would have guessed I’m a lesbian and went on to talk about how she “used to be a lesbian” and that felt grimey AF to me.


Was out @ 14 so got gum in my hair a lot, probably why I refuse to shave my head ever to prove any point ever because I meticulously cut those candies out of my hair about 4x/mo


I was out with women friends for my 21st birthday. We were all dancing. This guy kept offering to buy me drinks and wanting my number. I repeatedly and politely told him thanks but I wasn’t interested. He kept trying so I finally told him I’m gay. He then became verbally abusive saying  I thought I was too good for him and hoped I got raped. Thankfully his friends pulled him away and they left. I was shaken and thankful my friends were there.


 

‘It is possible to be Muslim and a lesbian’

miriam

Miriam hid her sexuality from her strict Muslim parents for years. When she eventually did come out to them, she found it impossible to translate “lesbian” into Punjabi or Urdu. She explains how the conversation put an end to her double life “playing the straight woman” but caused a rift so deep that her father disowned her.

Continue reading at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-46567505 (Source)

We need your help – missing voices

 

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By Liz Waterhouse

Listening2lesbians has a mission of reporting on violence and discrimination against lesbians globally.

While this sounds like a simple task, assessing what we have been able to find in the last few years indicates that accessing news about crimes against lesbians is far from simple, with multiple barriers preventing us from being able to present a comprehensive picture of global lesbian experiences.

 

WHAT IS REPORTED OR PUBLISHED?

 

There is very little information being published about what is happening to lesbians around the world if we compare what is reported on an ongoing basis with what is found by those writers analysing the situation in depth.

Even for the countries with the most information available, invariably white dominated English speaking countries (the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada), the information is limited and piecemeal. Based on the news we see, and the patterns of how it is reported,  the communities who face significant additional problems due to overlapping axes of oppression, such as lesbians of colour and lesbians with a disability, are additionally disregarded by the authorities and/or the media.

This is no surprise because we know that many lesbians do not or cannot report violence or harassment for cultural, social and legal reasons. It is not safe for many lesbians to report their experiences, and around the world, reporting their experiences will open lesbians up to harassment and persecution.

When violence and harassment does get reported to authorities and it makes its way to the media, the following filters seem to apply:

  • Much violence and harassment against lesbians is not readily identifiable as such and many victims may play down or hide their sexuality in reporting to authorities even if it is a dominant factor in the crime, including under pressure from families.
  • Violence and harassment against lesbians is seemingly under reported by local media AS a crime against lesbans, unless it is salacious, extreme or backs up an existing widespread (often lesbophobic, also racial) bias.
  • Crimes against lesbians are often reported by the midia in ways which do not allow us to readily identify their sexuality and the extent to which sexuality is relevant to the crime.
  • Where lesbian news is reported locally it isn’t often picked up by international news sites unless it is (again) salacious, extreme or backs up an existing widespread (including  lesbophobic, also racial) bias.
  • LGBT media sites show little or no interest in lesbian news, again unless it is salacious, extreme or backs up an existing widespread bias.

Across the world there are some countries for which there is significant reporting (such as South Africa), which reflects both their rampant crime rate against lesbians (and women more generally) and the wide spread use of English in their media.

That leaves 135 out of 209 countries and territories for which we have not yet found a single news article in real time by December 2018.

We know that the absence of news reports does not indicate an absence of persecution of lesbians because homosexuality is illegal or defacto illegal in 47 of those countries.

This means we know that there are many communities of lesbians who are entirely silenced, whose experiences we know far too little about but whose experiences we need to be listening to because they remain persecuted.

 

AVAILABLE NEWS SOURCES

 

To try to find every available article on violence against lesbians, Listening2lesbians scans every news item from the following news sources, every day:

 

Google searches for:

  • Homophobia
  • homophobic
  • Gender and sexuality diverse
  • Gay woman
  • Gay women
  • Gender non conforming
  • Gender nonconformity
  • Lesbian
  • Same-sex
  • SASOD (Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination)
  • SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)
  • Violence against women

 

News articles and blogs on Feedly including:

  • Advocate.com
  • AfterEllen
  • Alturi.org
  • Big Boo Butch
  • Curve fee
  • En.queer.de
  • Epochalips – smart lesbian commentary
  • Erasing 76 Crimes
  • Fridae Asia
  • FUSE magazine
  • Gay Star News
  • Gay City News
  • Gay/Lesbian News
  • Gay Iceland
  • Gay NZ
  • GLAAD blog
  • Georgia Voice – Gay and LGBT Atlanta News
  • Huffington Post
  • Human Rights Watch News
  • Lesbian News
  • Lesbians Over Everything
  • LGBT Germany
  • LGBTQ Nation
  • Mamba Online
  • One More Lesbian
  • Out Japan
  • Out.com
  • Outlook Ohio Magazine
  • Outsmart Magazine
  • Outsports
  • Pink Armenia
  • Pink news
  • Pride USA
  • Queer Voices
  • Queerty
  • Refworld
  • Rights Africa – Equal Rights, Once Voice
  • SF Gay and Lesbian
  • Star Observer
  • Straight Universe
  • The Gaily Grind
  • The Independent
  • The Guardian World news
  • The Rainbow Times
  • The Seattle Lesbian
  • Towleroad Gay News
  • What Wegan Did Next
  • Women and Words
  • Xtra (DailyXtra)

 

We also watch the news on facebook across groups, news sites, pages and friends’ walls.

As we find new sources they are added to the list of sites we search and follow.

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – ENGLISH

 

English speaking western countries dominate the news.

News from lesbians in english speaking western countries also dominates the lesbian news.

Listening2lesbians works hard to counter that domination by dedicating our efforts to finding news on marginalised and invisibilized communities of lesbians.

That domination is emphasised by the prevalence of English speaking news for the english speaking audience.

We are aware that our work to find and share information about lesbian communities around the world is limited by searching in English.

While we do have plans to reach out to communities, activists and representative organisations more directly in future, this is limited by the current size and scale of Listening2lesbians and will rolled out in a way that prioritises the sustainability of the project over speed of expansion. 

 

(ANOTHER) ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: WESTERN FRAMEWORKS

The framework we are using to focus on the experiences of lesbians around the world may not cleanly fit the cultural framework of all communities. We are mindful of not imposing western values or terminology on the communities we are trying  to reach.

 

We do know that women in same sex relationships around the world are persecuted, subject to violence and discrimination, however they are labeled and identified, and it is this reality we are looking to report on.

 

OUR REQUEST TO YOU

 

We know we have many readers who represent communities around the world and who speak languages other than English.


Your experiences and the experiences of lesbians in your community matter.

 

If you see news articles about violence and harassment against lesbians in your community, and it is a story we are unlikely to find for language or other reasons, please send it to us at:

 

We also welcome contact from activists, journalists, researchers and organisations representing, researching or supporting lesbians around the world.

 

How I became the most hated lesbian in Baltimore

Julia Beck
AfterEllen.com

“Baltimore City is a hostile environment for lesbians. Organizations like the LGBTQ Commission that claim to support Lesbians are too often controlled by men who de-platform and silence outspoken women. Too many activists wear a facade of benevolence, preaching inclusion and equity while threatening to beat and kill women like me.”

Continue reading at: https://www.afterellen.com/general-news/568221-how-i-became-the-most-hated-lesbian-in-baltimore (source)

Male-Run ‘Pink News’ at Odds with the Lesbian Community…Again

Julia Diana Robertson
AfterEllen.com

afterellen

“PinkNews, a male-run publication, has a history of coming under fire with the lesbian community. Yesterday, it happened yet again…

Lesbians are the most silenced within the alphabet and within the mainstream media. We’re pathologically misrepresented.

The mainstream media (including the ‘LGBT’ mainstream) are male-dominated (like everything else)… Even lesbian organizations and media are controlled by non-lesbians and male-money—Parent companies or advertisers that ultimately control what we can and cannot say. Mainstream media is like the creepy uncle who shows up at your lesbian dinner party, uninvited, holding a bouquet of d*cks. PinkNews has been called out on social media, time and time again, for what lesbian readers view as biased reporting, anti-lesbian sentiment and misogynistic viewpoints.”

Continue reading at: Male-Run ‘Pink News’ at Odds with the Lesbian Community…Again (source)

Thoughts on the words “queer” and “lesbian” from a twenty-two year old who only connects to one of them

Thoughts Essay Photo - Erin

Guest Post by Erin

It started in 6th grade with an offhand comment to a classmate I thought was my friend. We were in our one shared class, gym, talking about – as girls of this age often did – boys. I never understood why so many hours could be spent talking about them. Sure, some were cool, and they were my friends, but why are we always talking about them? Aren’t there cooler things going on?

Confessing this confusion was my first mistake. An offhand comment led to a rumor that persisted in at least some form for seven years and led to nearly a decade of strong and unrelenting self-hatred. “Who do you like?” she asked, as we did jumping jacks in gym. Unable to pick a random boy fast enough, I answered simply “I don’t like boys yet.” Spoiler alert: even though I pretended to because girls are supposed to like boys, I never did start liking them.

This wasn’t so strange, right? I was only eleven. Didn’t I have better things to worry about then whether or not the cute boy that sat next to me in math looked at me? Was it so strange I was more interested in staring at numbers than boys?

Yes. It was. Soon after this small conversation in the middle of warm-ups in our tiny gym, I first heard it. “Lesbian,” they called me. I didn’t understand why. Of course I knew what a lesbian was. My parents were pretty progressive and didn’t shelter me from things like this. A lesbian is a girl who only likes other girls. But that wasn’t me. I just didn’t like boys yet. That didn’t mean I liked girls. This logic didn’t stop them. They continued, among other taunts, to call me a “lesbian,” the most common taunt.

I started liking boys. I pretended to, at least. I was so good at pretending that I fooled myself. It didn’t matter that I barely knew these boys. Every other girl liked him. I did too. It didn’t matter the thought of actually talking or getting close to him created an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. That was just the butterflies, right? Easier to pretend with were the few boys I was friends with. I was mostly comfortable around them, and I liked talking to them. That’s all a relationship was supposed to be right? We were friends. I could like him and not have to do anything about it for fear of “ruining the friendship.” Just because I never did anything about these crushes didn’t mean I didn’t actually like boys. I was just shy.

The taunts continued. I still didn’t understand. I had relented; I was behaving like a normal girl should. I could point to a growing list of crushes as evidence. This was when I began to understand. I was using the wrong definition of the word “lesbian.” Their definition, the definition they were trying to communicate when they threw the word at me with a sneer and hate in their eyes, was much darker. To them, a lesbian is a girl who only likes girls. But that’s not all they meant. A lesbian is also gross. She’s dirty. She’s wrong and predatory. A lesbian is someone unworthy of love or kindness. The only part of this they didn’t know or care to communicate was the “girl who only likes girls” part.

I understood now. I was gross. I was dirty. I was wrong and predatory. I was unworthy of love and kindness. When this definition became known to me, it’s the one that started to bury itself into my brain every time I heard the insult. Every time I saw one of the ones that called me it. I started to withdraw. I talked less. I stopped hanging out with friends so much. I began to see myself as they did. At age eleven, I began to believe I was gross, dirty, wrong, and predatory. I didn’t deserve love and kindness.

When you are eleven, and your brain is still developing, it develops with the environment you are in. Despite a loving family, I was losing friends and surrounded by hate for most of my day. So I started to internalize it. I isolated myself from the love I believed I didn’t deserve. I hated myself, most of the kids at school hated me, even my friends started forgetting about me the more I ignored their texts and invitations.

All of this started because I was known as the lesbian of the school. I was terrified of this word. It was scary and ugly every time I saw it. It reminded me of all the torment I faced at school, and later online. There are never positive stories about lesbians. They’re beaten up or murdered in the news. They are a porn category for men online. They are mocked in public. They are predatory monsters in movies and television Every time I saw the word lesbian, I believed more and more than lesbian meant someone dirty, predatory, and unworthy.

Fast forward seven years and I’m in college. I don’t know anyone here. No one here knows me. I don’t have to be what I’ve been told I am all these years. Then something terrifying happens. A couple friends I reconnected with take me to a meeting of the campus LGBT club. Suddenly I’m surrounded by people who are what I’ve been called all my life, and they don’t fit the definition of “lesbian” I had had forced upon me. They are women who like other women. They aren’t gross or predatory or unworthy. Scarier still, I realize I may be like them.

Years of telling myself I was all parts of the definition of “lesbian” except the only true definition caught up with me. I avoid this word at all costs. I am pansexual. No, I am asexual. No, I am bisexual. No, I am bisexual with a preference for women. No, I am bisexual with a strong preference for women. No, I am bisexual with a very strong preference for women. No, I…suddenly realize I am what I’ve been avoiding.

I am a lesbian. So, what does this word mean now? Does it still mean dirty, predatory, and unworthy? I don’t know. I don’t think it does, not anymore. At least not fully. I am nineteen now, and the fears I held at age eleven aren’t so scary anymore. I begin to reach out. I follow lesbians online. I look for positive representation in media. I start to identify with the word bit by bit.

But then, I’m back in school after winter break ends and there are people all around and now the fears I held at age eleven seem more real. I start throwing up every day and making jokes about my sexuality. If I make jokes about it then it’s not so scary and I can maybe eventually confront it, right? But the jokes don’t stop and neither does the throwing up. I wasn’t okay. But I was trying to be.

I begin to have more lesbians in my life. I follow more lesbians on Tumblr and other social media. I join some lesbian-centric Facebook groups. I find a musical celebrating what it is to be a butch lesbian. I watch rom-coms where lesbians get to end up happy. I listen to lesbian singers. I meet and work with lesbians at my summer job, and see them being happy and secure.

Lesbian begins to take on a whole new meaning for me. These women I know, through work or the Internet, through stories on stage or screen, aren’t what I’ve been told and internalized a lesbian is my whole life. They are not gross or predatory or unworthy. These women are strong. They are powerful. They are full of love and light and confidence in who they are. They have people who love them.

And I am like them. I am strong and powerful and full of love and light. I am worthy. “Lesbian” is no longer a scary concept for me. I am a lesbian, and no one will take that away from me ever again. Being a lesbian is a beautiful thing to be. I am proud.

But as I began to assert my new proud identity, words like “gay” and “lesbian” and “bisexual” started to disappear. The new word that took their place was the word “queer.” Originally meaning words like strange, odd, ruin, and spoil, the word became used as a slur against the LGBT community. Slurs typically have a way of becoming reclaimed. They are taken from the negative group and turned into a war cry.

Suddenly, so many things are becoming queer. More and more people are dropping more “standard” LGBT identities and choosing to identify as queer. There aren’t lists of lesbian, or bi, or trans, or gay, or LGBT musicians – there are lists of queer musicians. The formerly “gay & lesbian” section has become the “queer” section. The LGBT groups are disappearing, and queer groups are taking their place. In retrospect, this isn’t such a bad idea. Reclaiming slurs can be a powerful concept, and reclaiming them on such a large scale can show more power. But forcing people to identify with the term, even accidentally, isn’t powerful – it takes away their personal choice.

I never identified as queer. To those that do, you have my full support and your identity should be celebrated. But your identity isn’t my identity. I spent eight years hating myself for even being assumed a lesbian. I spent another year terrified when I discovered I actually was. To me, lesbian is a powerful word. Lesbian is a word that can be twisted into something so ugly if you let it. And I let it. But then, I twisted it into something beautiful, and I became something beautiful.

I spent seven years being called a lesbian in the worst way by people who did not know me. I let them take the best way, the true way, away from me to. The day I decided that I am a proud, bold, unapologetic, unafraid lesbian was the day that I forgave my childhood self for being so miserable and self-hating. It was the day I found myself. It was the day I fell in love with myself. It was the scariest and most freeing day of my life. No one will ever take this beautiful, bold, proud word away from me again

Queer is like this for so many people. Queer is their identity. It is their support system. It is their connector with other people who are like them in a world that is not kind to people like them. An identity like this is so important for a person’s wellbeing. We need to connect with people like us, because it is hard to survive in a world that doesn’t want people like us.

Expecting everyone to identify with this word is when it becomes dangerous. Calling everyone who falls under the “not cis and/or straight” umbrella queer erases all these other beautiful, powerful identities. So much negativity is placed on words like bisexual, transgender, pansexual, gay, and lesbian. Proudly identifying with these terms is powerful. It is taking our power back from those who tried to take it from us. Queer is also a word that was made negative, and is now being used in a positive way.

Continue to take back the words they took from us. But let everyone do it in their own way.

I am twenty-two now, and the fears I had at eleven and later at nineteen no longer hold power over me. I still hold them, and I still remember them. On my worst days, they try to creep back into my mind. On these days, I remember the miserable girl I was at eleven. She survived and blossomed. On these days, I remember the terrified woman I was at nineteen. She survived despite her fear and fell in love with herself. On these days, I know the woman I am at twenty-two. She will survive, and become the person the miserable eleven year old needed, and the terrified nineteen year old found.

Listening2Lesbians mourns loss of Lisa Mallett

Lisa&Chillibean

We are devastated at listening2lesbians to announce the death of Lisa Mallett, passionate advocate for lesbians around the world and co-runner of L2L. Lisa was the beloved partner of Liz Waterhouse, Listening2Lesbians founder and co-runner with Ari Miller.

Lisa worked to improve lesbian visibility and had long term plans to increasingly serve the worldwide community of lesbians.

Lisa’s death is a terrible personal blow and a loss to the community she will no longer be able to support as she so passionately intended.

We will continue Lisa’s legacy through our work and hope you continue to support us through this.

A lesbian story of survival and the power of community Pride

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Gay Freedom Day Parade, San Francisco, California, June 1979. Photographer unknown, c/o @chicagotribune.

BY FELON EVANS

The end of Pride weekend. I skipped the Parade but went to a concert Friday and then to a Lesbian Potluck this afternoon.

Pride has lost a lot of its meaning for me, but the reason why we have a Pride has not. I came out in the mid-70s. Coming out to family and friends was not difficult for me but coming out to the larger world often felt dangerous. I was closeted with neighbors and landlords because it could cost you your housing. My girlfriend became my “roommate.” There was the bedroom you shared and then a spare room made to look like a second bedroom in case family visited. We would de-dyke the house before certain people would come over. If you had friendly neighbors, it was likely that you kept your lesbian books out of the living room.

I was closeted at work, too, and it meant that I kept a distance from co-workers, especially when they were talking about their personal relationships. Going to work meant always hiding a secret about who you were. Even being closeted, I was still fired from my job at a domestic violence shelter for being a lesbian. The Reagan Administration put a proviso on grants to DV shelters across America that in order to receive federal funding, they had to get rid of their lesbian staff. The Board called me in and said “You are a lesbian and can no longer work here.” When I went to an attorney, he asked me to show him where it was illegal to fire me for my sexual orientation.

Being a lesbian in the 70s and 80s also meant going to bars. We had wonderful music and dances and concerts and AA meetings, and bars were an important part of that community. We could not afford to be oblivious to the fact that something as ordinary as one’s own life could induce hatred in someone else. The bar I went to in Cleveland had one of those little windows in the door they would peep out of to check you out before you could gain admittance. Bars had to be careful. One night , two lesbians in our community left the bar and were kidnapped, raped, and shot and left for dead. One of them survived. It rocked our community to its core, and yet we still went to the bar because it was part of our community.

Not being able to talk openly about being a lesbian meant that you had to send out signals in a conversation or an interaction if you thought another woman was gay. A certain type of direct eye-contact, held a bit longer than usual, a nod of the head as you walked by each other on the sidewalk were used to determine if someone was likely a lesbian. Lesbians hug differently than do straight women and that was often a sign you could count on.

I was both disadvantaged and advantaged in being a Lesbian. It is stressful to hide something as fundamental as your relationships and community. There was danger and discrimination, the times we would get yelled at on the street or at a concert or denied admittance to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day or how your girlfriend would be treated differently by hospital staff if you went to the hospital . Once a van full of men pulled up and several men jumped out with baseball bats and ran at my girlfriend and I. She had her large dog with us and the dog growled and lunged at them. They jumped back in the van and peeled off. I don’t know what would have happened had we not had the dog, but I have every reason to believe we would have been hurt by them.

Through it all, community is what helped us survive that type of emotional and psychic trauma, it’s what ameliorated shame, what provided us with some great coping skills and survival strategies. Our community is where we went after the bad family interactions, after the bad work experiences, after the firing or the insensitive doctor asking again what kind of birth control you use, even after you came out to her.

We so often get attached to a narrative of suffering as if that makes us more “authentic.” Anyone who came out back in the day has been through the shit. It takes a toll on a human being. And yet it also has allowed me to be part of a community of survivors who faced bigotry with both anger and humor, with resilience and guts.

What I want to celebrate on Pride is not the freedom to be myself but rather the gift of a community that held one another up, that endured shitty treatment and insensitivity and outright hate and still insisted on loving other women.

Tonight I went to a lesbian potluck with typical potluck food and ordinary lesbians talking about our commonplace lives, remarking on how much easier things are now. And yet we are all part of an extraordinary phenomenon, a community of women in what has been a lesbophobic culture, many of whom have endured decades of hostility for our choices, and who are undeterred in our insistence on loving each other.

Thank you Lesbian community. You are who I celebrate on Pride Weekend.

 

L2L at Women’s March 2018, Columbus OH

End Violence Against lesbians

Listening2Lesbians at the Women’s March 2018,Columbus OH

In Memoriam: Lesbian Murder Victims (November 2017 Update)

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“Lesbians are very often undercounted as murder victims–both within the so-called LGBT community and by those who monitor violence against women. This is a beginning effort to honor the names of the lesbians that have been lost.”

This month we honor the following sisters:

Mary Caitrin “Caithy” Mahoney, Washington, DC, USA  (July 1997)

Tyonne Johns, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA (August 2016)

Richelle “Shelley” Horsley, Taylorsville, Utah, USA (June 2017)

Brittney Johnson, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (July 2017)

Continue reading at: http://inmemoriamlesbian.blogspot.com/2017/07/