Tag Archives: compulsory heterosexuality

Chile: young lesbian raped by stepfather then beaten by father for her sexuality

 

chile

A 14-year-old girl in Chile revealed her stepfather allegedly raped her. But [her] biological father who beat her saying she deserved to be raped ‘for being a lesbian’. The girl told her partner in December that her stepfather had raped her the year before. Her mother then sent her away to live with her biological father, but she was not safer there either. According to Chile’s main LGBTI organization, Movilh, her evangelical Christian father allegedly has kept the girl detained illegally. He has also stopped her from speaking to anyone and beat her with a leash. He claimed she deserved the rape and that he beat her to get the ‘bad out of her’.

Continue reading at: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/father-of-raped-daughter-said-she-deserved-it-for-being-a-lesbian/#gs.XS9ENA9V (Source)

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Chechyna: little news on lesbians in latest crackdown

Listening2Lesbians has been unable to find any specific information on what is happening to Chechen lesbians, except for reports which note that both lesbians and gay men have been detained. In 2017, informations on lesbians was similarly scarce, with reports emerging later that confirmed lesbians were often trapped in the private realm, suffering double oppression as women and homosexuals.

Listening2Lesbians has reached out to advocates, seeking information on the plight of lesbians in Chechnya through this escalation in anti lesbian and gay persecution.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact us via:

2017 Listening2Lesbians articles:

 

2017 articles not previously shared on Listening2Lesbians:


chechnya 2017

A spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov,  told the Interfax news agency on Monday that the reports are “complete lies and don’t have an ounce of truth in them.” He insists that no LGBT people have been detained. But the Russian LGBT Network claims they have been helping the victims and on Monday said about 40 men and women have been detained since December and two have died as a result of torture. The detainees are believed to be kept in the same facility that was named in the 2017 reports.

First reports of the crackdown appeared on Friday, but activist did not release any details until Monday. “Widespread detentions, torture and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya,” Igor Kochetkov, program director at the Russian LGBT Network said. “Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped. It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

Continue reading at: https://sdgln.com/news/2019/01/14/chechnya-gay-purge-resumes-2-dead-40-custody-reports-say (Source)

Lesbian survival in rural Bundelkhand, India

deepshika (l) and abhilasha (r) in hamirpur

For the past six years, Abhilasha and Deepshika had endured forced separation, marriages to men they did not desire, humiliation and constant taunts from their families. Their “marriage by media” was the result of love, fear that their families might kill them, and confusion as they — and their lawyer — mistakenly thought that same-sex marriage was legal in India. It isn’t. In September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court judgement overturned a colonial-era law banning gay sex. The court stopped short of legalising gay marriage but, as Abhilasha and Deepshika’s story reveals, people in love are forcing a national reckoning in pockets of India long considered too parochial, socially conservative, or outright dangerous to consider the possibility that two women may want to spend the rest of their lives together.

Continue reading at: https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/in-rural-bundelkhand-a-lesbian-couple-tries-to-make-a-life_in_5c3c1289e4b0922a21d62164 (Source)

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)

US: Musician The Weeknd accused of lesbophobic lyrics

weeknd lesbophobia

The Weeknd has found himself in some controversy after the release of his collaboration with producer Gesaffelstein, ‘Lost In The Fire’, with some citing that some of his lyrics are homophobic.

The lyrics in question centre around a pretty explicit couple of lines in the second verse, where The Weeknd sings “you’re going through a phase” and “i can f*ck you straight.”

Continue reading at: https://musicfeeds.com.au/news/the-weeknd-accused-of-homophobic-lyrics-in-new-song/ (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.

South Africa: Lesbian raped by her father, uncle and friend to ‘make her straight’

Mubizana

A lesbian has said she was raped at the age of 15 by her father in order to ‘make her straight.’ The South African woman, known only as Mubizana, also accused her uncle and his friend of raping her on the same day, when her grandmother had left home to visit relatives in Dennilton, Limpopo, in the north-east of the country.

The heartbreaking Twitter thread comes as South African LGBT people struggle to come to terms with multiple horrific attacks on the community, including the torture, rape, murder and burning of married lesbian couple Joey and Anisha van Niekerk.

Continue reading at: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/07/31/lesbian-raped-father-uncle-friend-make-straight/ (Source)

Uganda: Lesbian facing deportation from UK despite fears of persecution

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Lazia Nabbanja had claimed asylum in the UK on the grounds that she would face oppression in her home country, but her bid was rejected by the Home Office last year. Despite her providing evidence of her sexuality, Ms Nabbanja’s lawyers told The Independent that Home Office officials used alleged inconsistencies in the details of her relationships to suggest they did not believe she is gay. Photos and videos of her attending gay pride marches have been widely shared on social media and she has been featured in Ugandan newspapers, prompting fears she could be arrested or attacked as soon as she returns to her home country.

Continue reading at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lesbian-uganda-women-deportation-home-office-lazia-nabbanja-gay-laws-a8123581.html (Source)

Being a refugee and a lesbian is difficult, says Somali woman

September 11, 2017 –Haji says that after lunch when the ceremony started she stood up and shouted that she would not be getting married because she had told her foster father already that she was attracted to women. She says other guests at the ceremony shouted at her and her foster father assaulted her. Her brothers took her to hospital. She decided not to lay a complaint with the police as her friends suggested, but rather to flee.

Continue reading at: http://www.mambaonline.com/2017/09/11/refugee-lesbian-difficult-says-somali-woman/ (Source)

What it’s like to live life as a Muslim lesbian

Zayna says she was beaten, humiliated and threatened because of her sexuality – but throughout her tormented formative years she refused to deny who she truly was.

Growing up as a young Muslim lesbian in Pakistan, the graduate says she came up against both physical and mental abuse from those that she believes had misinterpreted the messages of the Qur’an.

Continue reading at: What it’s like to live life as a Muslim lesbian – Manchester Evening News (Source)

‘A Lot Of Girls Would Probably Rather Die’: In Russia’s Chechnya, Lesbians Tell Of Suffocating Existence

The young woman was riding in a taxi to the airport when she decided to make the call. She had just left her home in Russia’s southern Chechnya region — for good, she thought, first on a flight to Moscow to pick up emigration documents and then on a plane out of the country.

But the taxi driver was eavesdropping. And when the woman told her friend she had run away, he locked the car doors and drove her back home, fearing potential consequences for his role in her planned escape.

The 22-year-old woman was a lesbian who claimed that her relatives had beaten and threatened her with death after learning of her sexual orientation. Within a week of the fateful taxi ride, she was dead.

Continue reading at: ‘A Lot Of Girls Would Probably Rather Die’: In Russia’s Chechnya, Lesbians Tell Of Suffocating Existence (Source)

Kerala, India: Inmate ousted for being lesbian

Thiruvananthapuram: The Sree Chitra Home for Destitute and Infirm here has no room for lesbians. Therefore, it ousted Shilpa, an inmate, alleging that she had lesbian tendencies.

Continue reading at: Kerala: Inmate ousted for being lesbian (Source)

Facebook, Google, Starbucks join in Georgia lesbian’s US Supreme Court fight

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and Viacom have joined 71 other companies in an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting Georgia lesbian Jameka Evans in her efforts to ask the US Supreme Court to hear her case. Evans claims she was harassed in the workplace and fired from her security-officer position at Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah because she is a lesbian and wears her hair in an androgynous style. Lambda Legal is seeking a nationwide ruling affirming that sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Continue reading at: Facebook, Google, Starbucks join in Georgia lesbian’s US Supreme Court fight (Source)

Indonesia: Stop Raids on Homes of ‘Suspected Lesbians’ | Human Rights Watch

National police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and President Joko Widodo at Karnavian’s inauguration in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 13, 2016.
 
© 2016 Reuters

(Jakarta, September 6, 2017) – The Indonesian government should urgently investigate the September 2, 2017 police raid on the homes of 12 “suspected lesbians,” Human Rights Watch said today. The raid and ensuing forced evictions violate the rights to privacy, non-discrimination and basic due process.

The police raided a residential compound in West Java province’s Tugu Jaya village in response to complaints from local Islamic youth groups and religious leaders that the women’s cohabitation was “against the teachings of Islam.” Police demanded that the women immediately relocate from the area without providing any legal justification for the order, according to authorities, Human Rights Watch interviewed.

Continue reading at: Indonesia: Stop Raids on Homes of ‘Suspected Lesbians’ | Human Rights Watch (Source)

Atlanta: Lesbian Reverend helps honor defrocked clergy with ‘Shower of Stoles’

Rev. Kim Jackson knew as a child she wanted to be a pastor.

Raised near rural Cowpens, South Carolina, in a small Baptist Church, she said the people in her home church “nurtured me in the faith, encouraged me to participate in children’s and youth ministries.” When she expressed at age nine she wanted to become a pastor, she was told that was impossible.

“I was told that I couldn’t become a pastor because I was a girl,” she told Georgia Voice.

She moved to Atlanta a decade ago, when she was 22, where she came out as gay, another blow, she was told, in her journey to become a pastor.

Continue reading at: Atlanta church honors defrocked LGBT clergy with ‘Shower of Stoles’ (Source)

Jewish lesbian speaks up after being ‘fired’ as a church volunteer

Carmen Hix, the Texas woman who was let go as a relief volunteer following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, recently spoke to GSN about her experience of discrimination.

Hix was told she was no longer allowed to volunteer at a Houston church’s food bank after church officials discovered she was both Jewish and a lesbian.

Continue reading at: Jewish lesbian speaks up after being ‘fired’ as a church volunteer (Source)

Nigeria: Thugs attack ex-wife suspected of lesbian affair, victim flees to Canada

A Nigerian woman accused of lesbian sex has escaped to Canada after surviving an attack by thugs who she said were sent by her ex-husband. The attack and her escape occurred after she was released from police custody following her arrest on homosexuality charges at her ex-husband’s instigation.

Continue reading at: Nigeria: Thugs attack ex-wife suspected of lesbian affair | 76 CRIMES (Source)

Nigeria: Study reports harassment, expulsion for committing lesbianism on university campuses

A Nigerian researcher, Kehinde Okanlawon, has released a report on the experiences of gay and lesbian university students in Nigeria, detailing harassment they experienced.

The report, titled “Homophobic bullying in Nigerian schools: The experiences of LGBT university students,” was based on interviews with 14 gay and lesbian students at a university in Nigeria and on accounts of Nigerian LGBT students’ experiences compiled from other sources.

Continue reading at: 14 Nigerian university students talk about being gay on campus | 76 CRIMES

Chechnya: Reports of high domestic violence, “honor killings” of lesbians

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‘Gay men who are taken to prisons, it was a kind of massive attack against those homosexual people. Homosexual women are treated differently.

‘So it’s considered that families should take responsibility for them, so there is a lot of domestic violence and we’ve heard there are a lot of honor killings of those lesbian women.’

Continue reading at: Chechnya: Lesbians, bi and trans people now in firing line (Source)