Tag Archives: Lesbian history

I carry a list of their names

Mersiha

Mersiha (left) (Image courtesy of Dr Danica Anderson, with Mersiha’s permission)

 

A guest post by Dr Danica Anderson

I carry a list of their names

I will name her Mersiha for purposes of protection.

She must have been standing by the tall war weary grey and riddled with bullets apartment building. Otherwise, she would not have been able to unexpectedly show up in Sana Koric’s photo shop located on the ground floor of the building.

The door swung open making the bell ring out aggressively.  My back was to her – it is a shield to pitch away the spewing incoherent words that came out her mouth.

It felt strange with Sana standing at her register smoking on her cigarette as if the door being ripped open violently was normal. It was even stranger with Sana calmly greeting her as she would any customer or person- you know the typical question ‘how are you’ but didn’t want to be bothered with any answer.

Sana’s response made me turned around to look at intruder.  For a moment, I thought I didn’t hear the spewing incoherent words.  But, Mersiha’s agitation was shown with her arms raised and flaying with no apparent target. Somewhere in that moment her eyes locked with mine despite her being imprisoned in her mental illness tirade.   Mersiha saw I was listening intently to all she said and all her movements without fear.

I could not but help to see her and this registered deeply upon her.

But, I was questioning internally how this forgotten invisible woman is smothered with precursory greetings and ignored.  I wondered hasn’t there been someone who was questioning and curious about her life and how she got into a state.  I know in the aftermath of war, the small town- Novi Travnik being invisible meant everyone walks by her as if she did not exist.  Or murder her for being lesbian.

By seeing and listening to her, I discovered her collection of spewed incoherent sentences are underlined with an intelligence.

Abruptly, she said, “you do not live here….. I can talk to you”.

In that one extremely touching statement she said to me pointed unquestionably to the fact she was shunned and swirled in an ocean of silence.

I was vulnerably placed in the bearing witness mode in an instant.

I, also, knew if Mersiha could respond to me in those few moments a healing social collective would provide the environment for this woman to accept the trauma she experienced and still endures.

I hesitate with medications since I knew she certainly did not get any with the humanitarian aid agencies nor the money to have meds consistently. My internal witness was chattering that I had no medications to give only my clinical assessment and being a sister to women in need.   I already witnessed how lesbians are prescribed more anti-depressants and anti- psychotics which in all likelihood created the mental illnesses in the male medical model[1].  The male medical model is a pathologization another form swearing allegiances for patriarchal authority that rally to save normal[2] as heterosexual.

I knew to expect the unexpected in the region that experienced 100 years of war. Basically, I am in a war zone that never ends the hate and violence.  I knew from so many experiences in the killing fields across the globe that knowing their hidden truth can be very costly especially when their hidden truth is liberated.

I learned in each of these experiences that it’s critical to illustrate the importance of bearing witness especially in environments of hate and violence.  It allows the survivors to struggle with a vocabulary and relate their herstories to those who stand ready to hear their hidden truth.

I am not talking about testimonies either. Many war women crimes and war survivors encountered the modern day courts and rule of law call for testimony, a word that has its origins of males swearing on their testicles for their allegiances in patriarchal rule[3].  Given the patriarchal and manmade law there is no room for women’s breasts of nurturance and wombs to birth their narratives in order to complete the process of their survival.  Her life story is incapable of being repossessed and reclaimed.

The result is that the women survivors live in a dangerous hideout unable to leave and unable to have a coherent, integrated narrative of what happened and continues to happen for her.  Women survivors are erased and made invisible in the testimonies since they are without testicles to prove their truths of realities are self-evident.

I looked at Sana standing at her register steadily smoking.  I thought of the some twenty Bosnian Muslim women war crimes and war survivors I work with in Novi Travnik.   The female social collective is inherent with those women but many were uneducated, older women who lived through WWII and the Balkan War who are certainly strongly steeped in Bosnian male dogma for testicles swearing allegiances.

Sana’s coolly smoking her cigarette and warm greetings to her enables a silence that in the end kills female social collective solidarity.   The killing silence is a jailer that has thrown away the keys to the cage. No matter of support, love and care is nurtured and if done it is in a repressed underground passive behavior.  My own hidden truth and that of the Bosnian female social collective I work with and love dearly are, also, complicit in this killing silence of women who are mentally and/or physically broken down.

It is more than that, I would discover later after hearing Mersiha’s story from Sana that “she was a crazed lesbian woman”.  I cringed when Sana spoke of what happened to her during the Balkan War.  I asked Sana why it matters that this woman is a lesbian when the violence towards women includes all daughters.

To remain authentic to myself and for these Bosnian women war crimes and war survivors I worked on their interpretation because it invariably plays a decisive formative role in who one comes to be, and in how a person lives their own life.  The so-called crazed woman according to the women war crimes and war survivors, the woman I encountered in Sana’s photo shop became untouchable – a lesbian that was not allow her to experience the traumatic events in her life without a witness, or her internal witness and she became trapped and warped in mental incapacities.

It matters because the murdering of lesbians sets an environment of terrorization for all women. We have mothers and their lesbian daughters who desperately want their daughters’ sexual agency quiet and unheard of to avoid the courts and rule of law call for testimony.    Women need to go deeper given that the alibi or being repatriated back home is the absence of death.  It is a quality of knowledge about their traumatic experiences and its relationship to struggle with death anxiety. In the end, it means being an insincere witness to themselves and her. We are unable to witness the violence in silencing lesbian’s reality of living in a world of hate.

To this day no one would want to publicly admit Mersiha is lesbian, it is for a very good reason.   Of the few lesbians I have met outside of Sarajevo city, the rural regions have many lesbians who have disappeared or camouflaged themselves. The same alibi is given when I ask where she is.  The universal response is – she has been repatriated back home.

The lesbians I searched for are the ‘disappeared’ and most likely murdered and tortured and raped.

I carry the names of lesbians asking authorities (all male by the way) – where did these women go?  Novi Travnik’s mayor, a short man in his early fifties told me right after I heatedly stated that these women have disappeared, “I knew we were in recovery when Novi Travnik had a beauty salon.  Maybe she will come back and get her hair done.”   I will spare you the expletives in my response to him.  But, I did say sramota- shame on you.

I ask the towns’ people randomly about the names of women who have gone missing.   The same response is given.   I walk away with bowed shoulders and in the beginning I would cry but now my female rage, a social justice burns ferociously.

Sana told me Mersiha and her partner traveled to many places before the war.   During the Balkan war Sana reported her partner left – abandoned her.   It was then, she had a break from reality.

Mersiha left her apartment and the door open.   Since it was war the entire apartment was ransacked.  Sana did not know where she went only that she was in town.   I took this to mean she lived on the streets.  It is unknown how her days were spent during the war and up until the time I encountered her in 2004.

After Mersiha left Sana’s photo office, I turned to Sana asking how the women I have come to know allow this happen.   I said to make this right, she needs Kolo Sumejia- a social collective and let’s work on that and see about getting her a place to live.  Of course, it was more of a demand.

I have a female rage shrouded with female social justice which set up my bravery to ask the small group of elderly women I work with to nurture and heal.  I knew I was shaming them- rather I was holding the women accountable for our killing silence which is painful for them and me.

Within few years, I returned to Novi Travnik and there Mersiha was sitting on a bench with an older woman, a friend who now share their apartment together.   While it was not a Lesbian partnership it was woman to woman, a female social justice that the women war crimes and war survivors in Novi Travnik do under the radar of male dominated society.

She smiled at me and waved her hand for me to come over to the bench.  I walked over and could not help smiling.   She introduced me to her friend saying she is better and on medications.   I turned to leave and she touched my arm.   I turned back and she said, you knew I existed.  You listened.

She is the only lesbian I found alive on my list of names.  I realized the female social collective did not give me an alibi – ‘repatriated back home’ when I asked after her.   I still ask about the other names on my list but it’s been over 18 years now.

What I learned after decades treating trauma across the globe is that I can’t change the world, erase the killing silences or save everyone.   My small act, my one response to witness and listen to one woman rippled into a female social collective that ended up healing her and many others.   I know it is only one name out of my list of names, one encounter and a dialogue that powerfully heals the experiences from those who have been victimized or subjected to it but, I heard a deeper truth not the killing silence or that alibi that she has been repatriated back home.

 

Bosnian Female Collective; a Human Geography

In Novi Travnik[4], Bosnia Herzegovina, I created the female social collective with the Bosnian women war crimes and war survivors.  The women named the social collective Kolo[5] Sumejia.  Sumejia is from the Quran, a female martyr.  The Ahmica-Vitez grandmothers and the Kolo Sumejia are the female social collectives where I would learn how they heal trauma and witness their grief and our own grief at the same time.

Only a few kilometers away from Novi Travnik is the village Ahmica-Vitez, the site of war crimes. Similar to Novi Travnik, a street divides the Ahmica Muslim enclave from the Croatians[6].  150 elderly and mostly women and children to infants were slaughtered in the Muslim morning call to prayer[7].  The war crimes here at Ahmica-Vitez was done by Croats not Serbs.

The human geography of the Balkan War and war crimes would have the grandmothers out in the field with their livestock which saved their lives but not their children and grandchildren.

If you drive another five kilometers away from Novi Travnik it is startlingly to the point of disbelief since Travnik is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe.  Travnik is smacked in the middle of Mt. Vlasic’s soaring cliffs.  One road is the only entrance and exit that leads to Mt. Vlasic.  Blue Waters rage down from a stout Tower with stone walls witch’s castle and flows underground and then emerges above ground into Travnik. Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand drank coffee at the Blue Waters café in 1914.  The Mosque has its minaret on the wrong side due to the raging blue waters that roar through the town.

Mt Vlasic serves as the backbone of the town, actually the protector of the town. And the thousands of internal displaced people (IDPs) – refugees in their own country would flee to Travnik.

During the Balkan War (1991-1993) over 5,000 women- IDPs, refugees and those from the rape camps fled to Travnik[8].  Snipers were able to kill some. The women talked about how their mothers and grandmothers’ covered up their windows and knew how to outlast the sieges and sniper kills to the market via their wood stoves and their fermented and home canned goods.

In other words, after three world wars -100 years of war – intergenerational trauma conjures up the survivor skills not thriving skills. It also conjures up the women’s silence on their own daughters’ sexual agency, not just Muslim women but, especially, if lesbians or haven been raped.

The rape survivors knew from before the war how Travnik was geographical situated to protect IDPs – refugees.   We do know in the Balkan War rape camps held elder women- mostly educated with doctorates and/or held high positions with a majority of Muslim young women.  There is talk that many of the educated women were lesbians but it is never spoken about or referred to in most media and research.

From my kolo informed trauma work not just in Bosnia but across the globe, lesbians’ trauma events and trauma response comes from their unassimilable experiences since their commitment to the truth of their realities is a journey with the ultimate difference-the otherness of living and otherness of death.

Two outstanding elements stood out for me in the literature about these rape camps showing the killing silence; no mention or few children of rape were born and no mention of Lesbian women.   The extremes of what women endured and lesbians are not in the written historical accounts and if chronicled it is rare.  The otherness of women’s lives, their sexual identity and sexual agency cannot efface the gynocide (mass murder of women).  But it does demand a repossession of her witnessing her loss and suffering when she recounts the experience of otherness, separation and loss.

Since, there is no mention or witnessing lesbians among the 5,000 women rape survivors and refugees I decided to detail traces of their lesbian lives at the local communities I found myself in. Even the UN statistics did not have Lesbians enumerated and they were most likely folded into the women category[9].  Of course it is fine to have lesbians noted as women – true women who in my tacit knowledge[10] is our first mother who had to be lesbian and all women have the capacity for parthenogenesis[11] (self-birthing).

While the women category for Lesbians is accurate what occurs with this specific exclusion is how violence against lesbians in the former Yugoslavia and in the Balkan war and rape camps is excused and not held accountable.   It is a killing silence- a gynocide given a green light to this very day.

I do know that lesbian human geography before the war and during the war and in the aftermath is a continuous hell.  Yet, something did change in the aftermath of war when I and the Bosnian women war crimes and war survivors acknowledged that she exists along with a female social collective that committed to witness her life and their lives.  The killing silence is eliminated with the female solidarity and collective that allowed for witnessing her existence, her trauma while being in sisterhood.

Similar to the geographical extreme contrast between the Ahmica-Vitez, Novi Travnik to the mother town Travnik’s beauty, Travnik gives the impression of not being scarred or severely wounded from the century of wars. But the hidden truth are women’s suicides by flying off their dreary apartment buildings to their deaths.  This occurred in Novi Travnik-actually everywhere in the aftermath of the war.  The killing silence had their suicides classified as accidental.

At the very least, Novi Travnik’s ghetto like aftermath fits it’s an ugly munitions factory – a target during the Balkan War.  The ugly munitions factory is where Mersiha worked as an engineer.  Her human geography and environment are the backdrops of smudged soot colored apartment buildings before the war and after the war.  The buildings’ acne are the grenade impacts creating craters accompanied with millions of bullet holes that make no pattern- bullet holes are pitched in every direction.  The environment and backdrop of the buildings is why I never saw Mersiha standing near the building when she stormed into Sana’s photo shop.

I realized how the environment and human geography of hatred and violence camouflaged Mersiha physically and also spoke of how blindness is entrenched in the killing silence.

One half of the town is Muslim and the other half is Croatian.  Actually, the main street is the dividing line where Croat soldiers and snipers would lean out their windows and shoot at the Muslim population.  How she survived the snipers in the surrounding hillsides killing anyone attempting to go get food is unknown.  The Croatian side looks like another town in Eastern Europe- unscathed and plugged into the western world where funding and clean up was done in about 5 years.   Not so, for the Muslim side.  A cup of coffee on the Croatian side is about $2.00 but on the Muslim side 50 cents to a dollar[12].

Since the homosexuals are the preferred male gender it stands to reason that most lesbians and women are the hardest hit in the century of wars.   This is made possible with the governing entities and military to include the International criminal court for Yugoslavia tribunal[13].  The latter, blames the feminists for their advocacy of women’s sexual agency.   This did not stymie the use of public space and talk about the trauma endured by lesbians. Lepa Mladenovic, Serbian feminist activist wrote to Women in Black group Joan Nestle:

“From the beginning of wars in this region from ’91 I felt that I have to invent Ten thousand ways to let my lesbian desire breathe. At some moment during the last 8 years it was not easy for me to put in words how do I feel when making love with a woman and in the back there is a radio with the news of war. Killed, or expelled or other fascist acts. In my room, I would not be able to stand up from the bed, leave the desired bodies and switch off the news, also because I thought the respect to the killed I will show by not switching off the radio.”[14]

However, homosexuality was the door that opened to public awareness for the former Yugoslav provinces Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia in 1977.  According to Tajana Greif, an author (LL25- History of Slovenian Lesbian movement) and LGBTI activist reported ““It is only after that that homosexuality was able to enter public discourse and public space.”

Notice that Bosnia Hercegovina is not listed. The Balkan War genocide and gynocide to rape camps forms a denial narrative by not listing in the statistical women categories lesbians.   In fact, there is perhaps a shred of historical narratives or some witnessing that declares lesbians were targeted in the bloody war.

Lepa Mladenovic resisted the temptation to push away the news on the radio and to not fall into the killing silences.  Instead Lepa reconstitutes the lesbian desire to breathe and make love with a woman, a witnessing of her own trauma along with many lesbians in the radio broadcast that most likely did not cite lesbians.  What mattered was that Lepa knew from the concrete details that in the women category was the lesbian category.


Dr. Danica Borkovich Anderson founded and directed The Kolo: Women’s Cross Cultural Collaboration (The Kolo: WCCC) focusing on intersecting women’s collaboration, representation, and advocacy for social justice to halt violence against women internationally and nationally. The Kolo: WCCC promotes and provides women’s trauma counseling, treatment, and gives the opportunity to “train the trainer,” preparing lay persons to facilitate the ongoing work. The Kolo: WCCC presents a feminist perspective coupled with cross cultural practices that enable women in war torn regions, such as Africa (Sub-Sahara), Afghanistan, Bosnia, India, and Sri Lanka to become self-sustainable in their communities.


 

[1] Sexual heatmap- “But something proverbial hit the fan when the press release included the fact that there were early and consistent reports that antidepressants could change sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Impossible we were told. You will lose all credibility making these claims.

The first report of this effect is tucked away in the very first English language article on the discovery of the antidepressant effects of imipramine by Roland Kuhn. Imipramine we now know is a potent serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Kuhn was a country doctor, more a psychotherapist than a psychopharmacologist. He was conservative in attitude. His explanation for what was going on was that some homosexual behaviors stemmed from depression and relieving this helped “normalize” other behaviors. He didn’t celebrate the issue but he may have been pleased – in line with dominant thinking at that time.” https://rxisk.org/the-sexual-heatmap-2/

[2] Saving Normal- “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life as ‘part mea culpa, part j’accuse, part cri de coeur’.Frances’ arguments about the dangers of inflating psychiatric conditions and psychiatric diagnosis are persuasive – maybe more so because he honestly admits to his own role in developing such an inflation. He is keenly aware of the risks of diagnostic inflation ‘because of painful firsthand experience’, he writes. ‘Despite our efforts to tame excessive diagnostic exuberance, DSM-IV had since been misused to blow up the diagnostic bubble’. He is particularly concerned about the exponential increase in the diagnosis of psychiatric conditions in children, writing: ‘We failed to predict or prevent three new false epidemics of mental disorder in children – autismattention deficit, and childhood bipolar disorder. And we did nothing to contain the rampant diagnostic inflation that was already expanding the boundary of psychiatry far beyond its competence.’ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reclaiming-childhood/201407/review-saving-normal-0

[3] “In ancient Rome, two men taking an oath of allegiance held each other’s testicles, and men held their own testicles as a sign of truthfulness while bearing witness in a public forum. The Romans found a word to describe this practice but didn’t invent the practice itself. Other primates had already been doing this for millions of years. Two male baboons who cooperate with each other by forming aggressive alliances against other baboons frequently fondle each other’s genitalia. This behavior has nothing to do with sex but it’s a social ritual that primatologists call a “greeting.” The behavior of ancient Romans and male baboons can be explained by the Handicap Principle, an evolutionary theory according to which the most effective way to obtain reliable information about a partner’s commitment in a relationship – whether a political alliance, a romantic relationship, or a business partnership – is to impose a cost on the partner and assess the partner’s willingness to pay it.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/games-primates-play/201112/testify-comes-the-latin-word-testicle

[4] I do want you to know that “Novi” translated from Bosnian means new in English.  The reason for naming it Novi Travnik is due to the mother town named Travnik located about five kilometers away.

[5] The Serbo-Croatian word kolo is very old and is most likely older than Sanskrit.  The kolo original meaning is the wheel and the Slavs call their round folk dances- kolo.  It also means to be in a circle.   I selected this word to evade the patriarchal symbols and return to the true meaning of the circle.

[6] The ethnic divides in former Yugoslavia: Croatians are Catholic, Serbians are Serbian Orthodox and Muslims are Bosniaks.

[7] The Ahmići massacre was the culmination of the Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing committed by the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia’s political and military leadership on Bosniak civilians during the Croat-Bosniak War in April 1993

[8] “The seizure of Jajce appeared to confirm the Serbian leaders’ determination to press forward with their offensive, despite pledges to seek peace and to stop fighting for control of wide areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina where Serbs were a minority before the war. In Jajce and the surrounding county, Serbs accounted for 19 percent of the population of 45,000 people in the 1991 census, with Muslims accounting for 39 per cent and Croats 35 percent.

Muslims and Croats were among the refugees streaming into Travnik today down the only road not blocked by Serbian troops, a dirt track used by Jajce’s defenders to run supply convoys through the mountains at night. A BBC reporter said that the refugees were arriving in Travnik, 20 miles southeast of Jajce, covered in mud, wet from heavy rains, and limping with fatigue after spending most of two days on the trek. The reporter, Alan Little, said in a radio account that some refugees reported that Serbian fighters opened fire on the refugees from positions overlooking the road. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/31/world/30-mile-refugee-line-is-seen-in-bosnia.html

[9] Bosnia-Hercegovina continue the onslaught of omitting or excluding Lesbians- “Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo Open Centre, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights organization, documented 23 cases of hate speech and incitement of violence and hate and two crimes and incidents motivated by prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the first three months of 2016. The reaction of authorities to these incidents is generally inadequate. There was no progress in police investigations into the 2014 attack on a film festival that Sarajevo Open Centre organized.

In its annual progress on Bosnia and Herzegovina published in November, the European Commission highlighted the failure of authorities to amend the constitution, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and to implement rulings by the Constitutional Court. The report also identified inadequate legal protection for LGBTI persons and the failure of authorities to protect adequately the rights of minorities and to ensure media freedom.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/23/human-rights-watch-country-profiles-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity.”

[10] Wendy Wheeler’s The Whole Creature Book-Wheeler argues that art and culture advance through intuited embodied knowledge. Tacit bodily knowledge- our genome and thousands of generations of ancestors’ lived experiences. https://books.google.com/books?id=LFDEK8QyNhkC&pg=PA102&lpg=PA102&dq=Wendy+Wheeler+tacit+knowledge+definition&source=bl&ots=DL4so92U3e&sig=ACfU3U1vLriIQlHrx0kcc6JIaOSVpSTlGw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwia-9ymgrrgAhXpr1QKHff9AWsQ6AEwAnoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=Wendy%20Wheeler%20tacit%20knowledge%20definition&f=false

[11] “It’s a theme as old as science fiction: A world without men. The story is a familiar one: lesbians living together in an all-women utopia, loving, raising families and their own food. No men are needed, even in the creation of children. There’s a word for creating children without men: parthenogenesis, but it’s never applied to humans. Parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, is defined as reproduction without fertilization. It occurs naturally in some plant and insect species. It does not occur naturally in mammals, but like many other procedures developed in modern medicine, it can now occur with the assistance of scientists.” https://www.liveabout.com/parthenogenesis-do-we-need-men-anymore-2170724

“The newspaper article unfortunately mentioned that such children would have to be daughters (it would have been interesting to see whether or not any sons were claimed, but, if so, they could not possibly be parthenoforms). Ultimately, 19 women presented themselves along with their daughters as examples of “virgin birth.” Eleven of these did not profess that no father existed, but were under the mistaken impression that the search was for a hymen intact after conception (but long since broken in birth). The remaining eight pairs were examined by Balfour-Lynn (1956), who blood typed mothers and daughters and found antigens present in six daughters that were absent in their mothers, clear evidence of genetic differences. In another pair, the mother had blue eyes and the daughter brown eyes, indicating genetic differences. In the single remaining case, “Mrs. Alpha and daughter,” there was apparent genetic identity in blood groups and several other genetically determined traits including electrophoretic analysis of serum. The probability of such a close match between a mother and daughter produced by heterosexual reproduction was less than one chance in a hundred (P < .01).” http://www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/thoc/virginbirth.pdf

[12] In my book Blood & Honey: The Secret Herstory- Balkan Women War Crimes and War Survivors, the narratives of Bosnian women war crimes and war survivors.

[13] Challenging Bosnian Women’s Identity as Rape Victims, as Unending Victims: The ‘Other’ Sex in Times of War “Still, while the ICTY‟s view of the use of rape in the Bosnian war was groundbreaking and lauded as a great success by many feminists, Engle argues that on some level the ICTY, influenced by feminist thinking, has inadvertently functioned to limit the narratives about women in war, denying much of women’s sexual and political agency (Engle, 2008, 942). Engle contends that many feminists treated at least some women as victims only, rather than as people capable of political and sexual agency during the war (Engle, 2005, 780). My research was prompted by the recognition that many important narratives of women’s agency in times of war have become silenced and ignored” https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1027&context=jiws

[14] ibid

Older lesbians deserve recognition as feminist pioneers and sisters

by Claire Heuchan
AfterEllen.com

GettyImages-686725885.jpg

Older lesbians have given so much to feminist and gay organizing that their erasure as the pioneers of both communities feels nothing short of criminal. And yet, much like mainstream society, so much of queer culture centers youth and masculinity that it is fundamentally unequipped to acknowledge the significance of older lesbians within the community.

Continue reading: Older lesbians deserve recognition as feminist pioneers and sisters

The lesbian Nazi victims who allegedly did not exist: Elli Smula and Margarete Rosenberg

Ravensbruck Orb design

There are numerous publications on the fate of lesbian women who were imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. In the last year, comments by a doctorate in history from Berlin caused a sensation, saying that there is no evidence for the actual detention and a whatsoever designed commemorative ball was thus falsifying the history. The LSVD Berlin-Brandenburg relied on this assessment in their remembrance work for women at the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial Site. … In the traditions of the ITS in Bad Arolsen, although no original access books of the former concentration camp Ravensbrück have been preserved, a few contemporary copies of these camp books have been partially preserved there. From these are two sides of the present complex of topics of great interest – namely the access list of November 30, 1940 : The admission reason for women numbers 11 and 26 was given as “lesbian”. These women are Elli Smula and Margarete Rosenberg, nee Quednau.
(Translated)

Zum Schicksal von lesbischen Frauen, die im Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück inhaftiert waren, gibt es zahlreiche Publikationen. Im letzten Jahr erregten Äußerungen eines promovierten Historikers aus Berlin Aufsehen, der sich damit zu Wort meldet, es gäbe keine Nachweise für die tatsächliche Inhaftierung und eine wie auch immer gestaltete Gedenkkugel sei somit geschichtsverfälschend. Der LSVD Berlin-Brandenburg berief sich bei der Erinnerungsarbeit für Frauen in der KZ-Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück auf diese Einschätzung. … In den Überlieferungen des ITS in Bad Arolsen haben sich zwar keine Originalzugangsbücher des ehemaligen KZ Ravensbrück erhalten, jedoch sind die wenigen zeitgenössischen Abschriften dieser Lagerbücher dort teilweise erhalten geblieben. Aus diesen sind zwei Seiten zum vorliegenden Themenkomplex von großem Interesse – nämlich die Zugangsliste vom 30. November 1940: In ihr werden unter den fortlaufenden Nummern 11 und 26 zwei Frauen mit dem Einlieferungsgrund lesbisch genannt. Bei diesen Frauen handelt es sich um Elli Smula und um Margarete Rosenberg, geborene Quednau.
(Original)

Continue reading at: https://www.blu.fm/aktuell/community/lesbische-naziopfer-ravensbrueck/ (Source)

Further information: “Rioting” – dispute between LSVD Berlin-Brandenburg and activists escalated

Original articles:

We Need to Talk About Misogyny and the LGBT Community’s Erasure of Black Lesbian History

Claire Heuchan
AfterEllen.com

Stormé DeLarverie

“Finding the stories of our Black lesbian foremothers isn’t always easy. That’s not because there were none. Despite what the history books say, Black lesbian women have been around for hundreds of years, living lives filled with the extraordinary and the everyday. Women like Stormé DeLarverie have led revolutions. And yet Black lesbian stories are hard to find.

Those who have traditionally held the power to decide whose stories get to be recorded as history have been white, male, and invested in the social order of women living lives centered around men: the system of heteropatriarchy. For the most part, those historians considered the experiences and inner-lives of Black women beneath their notice. Close reflections on the average Black woman’s life at any point in the last few hundred years would also have held the risk of making it that much harder to sustain the myth that Black people weren’t really human, bringing home the ugly truths of white supremacy.

In addition, the stories of lesbian women have been deliberately erased from history across continents and culture. As a result, Black lesbian lives are that much more obscure. Men have hoped that in denying women the blueprint to a lesbian life, they could keep us all in the confines of heterosexuality – a never-ending source of sexual, reproductive, domestic, and emotional labor. But lesbian women throughout time have always found one another, even with the odds stacked against them – although many letters, diaries, and pictures that made up the proof have been consigned to the ash heap of history.”

Continue reading more of Claire Heuchan at: We Need to Talk About Misogyny and the LGBT Community’s Erasure of Black Lesbian History – AfterEllen (source)

A lesbian story of survival and the power of community Pride

tumblr_op1a6zg89R1v6m5vmo1_500

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.

 

US: Lesbian Joann Newak Considers Legal Action After 1982 Dishonorable Discharge And Hard Labor Sentence

Photo source: https://newspaperarchive.com/syracuse-herald-journal-sep-27-1983-p-309/

Joann Newak had been sentenced to seven years hard labor. She was 23 years old, just coming to terms with her attraction to women. It landed her in maximum security military prison. “The very first lesbian relationship I had was with the partner that testified against me at my court marshall,” she says. “It’s like screwing around for the first time and getting pregnant. That was my first experience.”

The year wasn’t 1930. The country wasn’t on some far-flung continent. It was 1982. She was stationed in New York.

Newak is among an estimated 100,000 LGBTQ former service members that were discharged without an “honorable” distinction. When “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (DADT) the military policy banning service members from serving openly, was repealed, their discharges were never upgraded. More than 30 years later, she considers, for the first time, that she may be owed an honorable discharge. Her attorney, Elizabeth Kristen, says they are going to pursue legal options to obtain one.

Continue reading at: https://intomore.com/impact/Former-Lesbian-Air-Force-Member-Considers-Legal-Action-After-Dishonorable-Discharge-And-Hard-Labor-Sentence-in-1982/3ea2d7cf64db42dc

Historical articles:

Pushback on commemorative orb at Ravensbruck, support needed by Nov. 15th

Gedenkkugel 2015

From: www.feminismus-widerstand.de

Dear friends, lesbians and supporters,

A lot has happened since the start of our application in the summer of 2016. We value the huge interest and the support as encouragement to continue on this path.

Your signatures, the invitation to the symposium at the Sites for Memorial and Remembrance Ravensbrück in April 2017, as well as to the opening of the exhibition at the Gay Museum Berlin in July 2017 and, most recently, to the European Lesbian* Conference in Vienna, strengthens our determination, despite massive patriarchal opposition, to continue our campaign for a memorial plaque.

The committee and the experts commission of the foundation for Memorial Sites in Brandenburg have repeatedly deferred the decision on the whereabouts of the memorial plaque.

Individual decision makers, in particular the homosexual representative, insist on rejecting the memorial plaque on the grounds that there was no persecution and no such category as lesbian prisoners.

The next decision will be discussed on 24th November, 2017.

That is why we are once again requesting your support.

Please send protest letters by 15th November 2017

to the international committee, in person to the chair Thomas Lutz, info@stiftung-bg.de

and the Foundation of Memorial Sites in Brandenburg, in person to Prof. Dr. Günther Morsch, info@gedenkstaette-sachsenhausen.de

to state your continued support for a permanent memorial plaque.

Please send a copy to: gedenkkugel@gmx.de

Here is a suggestion:

Mr. Thomas Lutz, Mr. Günther Morsch
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

We request you, as the committee, as well as the representative of homosexuals, take into account in your decision the lived realities of lesbian women and girls and patriarchal power relationships and structures of persecution against lesbian lifestyles during national socialism. It is essential in terms of an academic and political debate to question a definition of persecution which is exclusively oriented on the categorisation of prisoners created by the national socialists and to expand this in terms of intersectionality.

I/We support that, at last, a visible symbol and a place in the Sites for Memorial and Remembrance is created by a memorial orb which marks the persecution and murder of lesbian women, and those so accused, so that they can be remembered.

For this reason I/we support a lesbian orb with the following inscription:
In Memorial an all lesbian women and girls in the Women’s Concentration Camp Ravensbrück and Uckermark. Lesbian women were considered “degenerate” and were persecuted and murdered as “antisocial” and, among other things, as resisters and crazy. You are not forgotten!

 

Signature

Name

Institution

Date

Further (mostly German) information, arguments for and against a memorial plaque, can be read under www.feminismus-widerstand.de and subsequent links.

Best wishes

Autonomous feminist womenlesbians initiative of Germany and Austria
Irmes Schwager, Lisa Steininger, Maria Newald, Wiebke Haß, Susanne Kuntz
Deutsch________________________________________

Liebe FreundInnen, Lesben und Unterstützer*innen,

inzwischen hat sich seit dem Start unseres Antrags im Sommer 2016 viel getan. Wir werten das große Interesse und die Unterstützung als Bestärkung, den Weg weiter zu gehen.

Eure Unterschriften, die Einladung zum Symposium in der Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück im April 2017, sowie zur Ausstellungseröffnung im Schwulen Museum* Berlin im Juli 2017 und zuletzt im Oktober 2017 zu der EL*C (European Lesbian* Conference) in Wien bestärken unseren Willen, trotz massivem patriarchalem Gegenwind weiter als Initiative für eine Gedenkkugel zu streiten.

Der Beirat und die Fachkommission der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätte haben die Entscheidung über den Verbleib der Gedenkkugel bisher mehrmals verschoben.
Einzelne Entscheidungsträger, insbesondere der Vertreter der Homosexuellen, bestehen auf einer Ablehnung der Gedenkkugel mit dem Argument, es habe keine Verfolgung und keine Häftlingskategorie “Lesben” gegeben.

Die nächste Entscheidung wird am 24. November 2017 diskutiert.

Deshalb bitten wir erneut um eure Unterstützung.

Bitte schreibt Protestbriefe bis zum 15. November 2017

an den Internationaler Beirat, in Person als Vorsitzenden Thomas Lutz, info@stiftung-bg.de,

und die Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätte, in Person Prof. Dr. Günther Morsch, info@gedenkstaette-sachsenhausen.de,

dass ihr den dauerhaften Verbleib der Gedenkkugel (weiterhin) unterstützt.

Bitte schickt eine Kopie angedenkkugel@gmx.de

Hier eine Vorlage:

Sehr geehrter Hr. Thomas Lutz, Sehr geehrter Hr. Günther Morsch
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

wir fordern Sie als Beirat sowie als Vertretung der Homosexuellen auf, die Lebensrealitäten von lesbischen Frauen und Mädchen, patriarchale Machtverhältnisse und Verfolgungsstrukturen gegen lesbische Lebensweisen während des Nationalsozialismus bei Ihrer Entscheidung mit zu berücksichtigen. Es ist im Sinne einer wissenschaftlichen und politischen Auseinandersetzung notwendig, eine Definition von Verfolgung, die sich ausschließlich an den von den Nationalsozialisten geschaffenen Häftlingskategorien orientiert, zu hinterfragen und intersektional zu erweitern.

Ich setze mich/Wir setzen uns dafür ein, dass mit der „Gedenkkugel“ endlich ein sichtbares Zeichen und ein Ort in der Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück geschaffen wird, an dem die Verfolgung und Ermordung von lesbischen Frauen, und jenen, denen es nachgesagt wurde, sichtbar wird und ihnen gedacht werden kann.

Deshalb unterstütze/n ich/wir eine Gedenkkugel mit der folgenden Inschrift:

Im Gedenken aller lesbischen Frauen und Mädchen im Frauen-KZ Ravensbrück und Uckermark. Lesbische Frauen galten als „entartet“ und wurden als „asozial“, als widerständig und ver-rückt und aus anderen Gründen verfolgt und ermordet. Ihr seid nicht vergessen!”

Unterschrift:

Name:

Institution:

Datum:

Weitere zum größten Teil deutschsprachige Informationen, Argumente gegen und für eine Gedenkkugel, können unter www.feminismus-widerstand.de und den weiterführenden Links dort, nachgelesen werden.

Herzliche Grüße,

Initiative autonome feministische FrauenLesben aus Deutschland und Österreich
Irmes Schwager, Lisa Steininger, Maria Newald, Wiebke Haß, Susanne Kuntz
Français___________________________________

Chèr-e-s ami-e-s, lesbiennes et supporteur*es,

Entre-temps, beaucoup de choses se sont passées depuis le début de notre application en été 2016. Nous apprécions le grand intérêt et le soutien comme un encouragement à continuer sur le chemin pris.
Vos signatures, l’invitation au symposium au Memorial de Ravensbrück (Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück) en avril 2017, ainsi que l’ouverture de l’exposition au Gay Museum * à Berlin en juillet 2017 et plus récemment en octobre 2017 à l’EL *C (European Lesbian*Conference) à Vienne encouragent notre volonté de continuer à nous battre en tant qu’initiative d’une boule commémorative, malgré un vent de face patriarcal massif.

Le ‘Beirat der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten’ (Conseil consultatif) et la Commission des expert-es ont jusqu’à présent reporté plusieurs fois la décision sur l’installation de la boule commémorative. Certains représantants, en particulier celui du groupe de victimes homosexuels, insistent pour rejeter la balle commémorative, affirmant qu’il n’y a eu aucune persécution des femmes lesbiennes.

La prochaine décision sera discutée le 24 novembre 2017.

C’est pourquoi nous vous demandons de nouveau votre soutien.

Veuillez écrire des lettres de protestation avant le 15 novembre 2017
au ‘Beirat der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten’, en personne Président Thomas Lutz, info@stiftung-bg.de,
et ‘Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten’ (la Fondation commémorative de Brandebourg), en personne Prof. Dr. Günther Morsch, info@gedenkstaette-sachsenhausen.de,
que vous (continuiez à) soutenir/soutenez l’emplacement permanent de la boule commémorative.
Veuillez envoyer une copie à: gedenkkugel@gmx.de
Proposition de texte:
Monsieur Thomas Lutz / Monsieur Günther Morsch,
Mesdames et messieurs,

nous vous demandons comme ‘Beirat’ (conseil consultatif) ainsi que comme représentant du groupe des victimes homosexuels de prendre en considération les réalités de vie des femmes et des filles lesbiennes, les rapports de pouvoir patriarchals et les structures de persécution contre les modes de vie lesbienne à l’époque nazi.

Il est nécessaire, dans le sens d’une discussion scientifique et politique, de remettre en question et d’étendre une définition de ‘persécution’, qui se fonde exclusivement sur les catégories de prisonniers créées par les Nazis, et de l’élargir de manière intersectorielle.

Je m’engage / Nous nous engageons à veiller à ce que enfin un signe visible et une place dans le mémorial Ravensbrück est créé avec la Boule Commemorative », où la persécution et la meurtre des femmes lesbiennes – ou bien parce qu’on le leur a attribué – deviennentt visible et peuventt être commémorer.

Par conséquent, je soutiens une boule commémorative avec l’inscription suivante:
En mémoire de toutes les femmes et filles lesbiennes dans le Camp de concentration des femmes Ravensbrück et Uckermark. Les lesbiennes étaient considérées comme «dégénérées» Elles étaient persécutées et assassinées car considérées comme «asociales», résistantes et «folles», et pour d’autres raisons. Nous ne vous oublions pas.”

En mémoire de toutes les femmes et filles lesbiennes du camp de concentration des femmes Ravensbrück et Uckermark. Les femmes lesbiennes étaient considérées comme «dégénérées» et étiquetées comme «ant -sociales», résistantes et ‘folles’, et ont été persécutées et assassinées pour d’autres raisons. Vous n’êtes pas oubliées!

signature:

nom:

institution:

Date:

D’autres informations – pour la plupart des informations en langue allemande – des arguments contre et pour une boule commémorative, peuvent être lues sous www.feminismus-widerstand.de

Cordialement,

Initiative lesbiennes féministes autonomes d’Allemagne et d’Autriche
Irmes Schwager, Lisa Steininger, Maria Newald, Wiebke Haß, Susanne Kuntz
Italiano___________________________________________

Care amice/-i, lesbiche e sostenitore/-i,

La commissione della Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätte hanno rinviato la decisione. Ci sono state controverse discussioni perchè sarà in questione, che esiste una persecuzione di donne e ragazze lesbiche nel fascismo nazista.
 La prossima decisione sarà discussa il 24 novembre 2017.
 Pertanto chiediamo nuovamente il tuo sostegno.
Scrivere le lettere di protesta entro il 15 novembre 2017 a
Internationaler Beirat – Presidente Thomas Lutz info@stiftung-bg.de
Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätte – Prof. Dr. Günther Morsch info@gedenkstaette-sachsenhausen.de
e una copia a: gedenkkugel@gmx.de
 Una “rappresentazione omosessuale”, nonché una “commissione “, che decide un memoriale per la persecuzione degli “omosessuali”, devi prendere in considerazione e pensare alla situazioni di vita delle donne e delle ragazze lesbiche e delle strutture di persecuzione contro la vita lesbica durante il fascismo nazista.
È scientifico e politico necessario che ci occupiamo anche della persecuzione nel fascismo nazista, che non si riferisce esclusivamente ai gruppi prigionieri creati dai nazionalsocialisti e che si occupano di connessioni sociali, strutture di potere patriarcale e persecuzione di modi di vita lesbiche.
Troviamo importante che la “pallina commemorativa lesbica” sia finalmente dotata di un segno visibile e che un posto sia creato nel Memoriale di Ravensbrück, dove la persecuzione e l`assassinio di lesbiche e quelli ciu è stato detto, è visibile si può essere considerato.

 

Chiediamo l’installazione di una pallina commemorativa con la seguente scritta: In ricordo di tutte le donne e ragazze lesbiche rinchiuse nei campi  di concentramento diRavensbrück e Uckermark. Le donne lesbiche erano considerate degenerate e in quanto “asociali”, resistenti e pazze furono perseguitate e uccise. Non sarete dimenticate.

Cordiali saluti
Iiniziativa delle donne e lesbiche femminista autonoma da Germania e Austria
Irmes Schwager, Lisa Steininger, Maria Newald, Wiebke Haß, Susanne Kuntz
Related articles:

Who was Jackie Forster? Google Doodle pays tribute to lesbian pioneer

Following her divorce, Forster embraced her gay identity. She moved in with her girlfriend in the mid-1960s, although she would not officially “come out” until 1969. When she did, it was in spectacular style, The Independent recalled in her 1998 obituary, “announcing to the world at Speaker’s Corner: ‘You are looking at a roaring dyke!’”.

Continue reading at: http://www.theweek.co.uk/89514/who-was-jackie-forster-google-doodle-pays-tribute-to-lesbian-pioneer (Source)

Help lesbian group’s initiative to commemorate lesbian victims of Nazi women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck

Ravensbrück_Tor2

Related articles:

Since the 80ies there have been several initiatives from lesbian groups and -organisations as well as from feminist historians, feminist archives and activists to create a place where to commemorate the lesbian women who have been persecuted and murdered in the women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrück.  In three consecutive years we – a group of feminist women and lesbians from Germany and Austria, have organised debates and meeting on  “Persecution of lesbian women in Nazism – Information, exchange and remembrance” at the Memorial Ravensbrück.2015, at the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück, we laid a memorial stone for the lesbians persecuted and murdered in Ravensbrück.

2016 we have decided that we will apply officially for the commemorative orb to remain. We applied for a memorial plaque that is a sign of remembrance, with the inscription as follows:

In memory for all lesbian women and girls in the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück and Uckermark.

Lesbian women were considered “abnormal” and were persecuted and murdered for being “antisocial”, rebellious, crazy and for other reasons.

You are not forgotten!

Continue reading at: “Gedenkkugel” – Lesbian commemorative orb (Ravensbrück) « European Lesbian* Conference 6. – 8. October 2017 (Source)

Dear sisters, friends, supporters,
Chers soeurs, amies, supporteur
Care amice, compagne, sostenitore
Liebe Schwestern, Freundinnen und Untersützerinnen
We send you  the informations about the initiative for a commemoration orb for lesbian women being persecuted and murdered in the former women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück in Germany. As there is a very controversal discussion going on and no decision was taken until now, the campaign is still open and you can sign and support the action.
We need your support till 5th of November 2017.
Please send these informations to others who might be although interested to support.
If you have questions, contact us
feminist lesbian greetings in solidarity
Initaitve “Autonome feministische FrauenLesben aus Deutschland und Österreich”
English
We apply for a memorial plaque, that is a sign of rememberance, with the inscription as follows:
In memory for all lesbian women and girls in the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück and Uckermark.
Lesbian women were considered “abnormal” and were persecuted and murdered for being “antisocial”, rebellious, crazy and for other reasons. You are not forgotten!
The International Ravensbrück Committee (IRK)  support our application for establishing the memorial and 590 people and organisations in 27 countries have signed our petition!
A decision was deferred: The committee of the foundation for Memorial Sites in Brandenburg have deferred a decision.  There were very controversial discussions both in the meeting of the International Advisory Council on 14th November 2016 and the Committee of Experts on 6th December 2016.
A decision is deferred until 24th of November 2017.
————————————————————————————————————-
Please support our initiative with your signature and write an e-mail – till 5th of November 2017 – to: Gedenkkugel@gmx.de
I support /we support the initiative for a permanent installation of a commemorative orb for the lesbian women persecuted and murdered in the former concentration camp Ravensbrück
personal Name:
Activity:
or: Organisation:
Name/Function:
City:
Country:
I /we agree, that my/our support /signature is published
—————————————————————————————————————–
Français
Voilà une partie du texte: “À la mémoire de toutes les femmes, filles et lesbiennes dans le Camp de concentration de femmes Ravensbrück et Uckermark. Les lesbiennes étaient considérées comme “entartet” (dégénérées). Elles étaient persécutées car considérées comme “asociales”ou folles. Nous ne vous oublions pas.
Le Comité international de Ravensbrück avait décidé de supporter notre initiative de déposer une boule de commémoration et 590 personnes et organisations venantes de 27 pays ont signé.
Une décision a été reportée. Durant la réunion du Comité consultatif du 14.11.16 et du Comité des expert-e-s le 6.12.16 il y a eu des discussions controversées. Nous allons nous engager pour que la demande soit accepté lors de la prochaine réeunion du Conseil consultative le 24 Novembre 2017.
——————————————————————————————————————
Si tu / vous voulez soutenir notre démarche, signez le texte suivant – jusqu’au 5 novembre 2017 – :
Gedenkkugel @gmx.de
Je soutiens /nous soutenons la demande d’installer une pierre commémorative pour les femmes lesbiennes persécutées et assassinées dans l’ancien comp de concentration de femmes Ravensbrück
Nom personell:
Activité:
ou/et – Organisation:
Nom/Fonction:
Ville:
Pays:
Je suis /nous sommes d’accord que la signature soit publié
——————————————————————————————————————
Italiano

Chiediamo l’installazione di una tavola commemorativa con la seguente scritta: In ricordo di tutte le donne e ragazze lesbiche rinchiuse nei campi  di concentramento diRavensbrück e Uckermark. Le donne lesbiche erano considerate degenerate e in quanto “asociali”, resistenti e pazzefurono perseguitate e uccise. Non sarete dimenticate.

l’IRK, il comitato internazionale di Ravensbrück, ha appoggiato la nostra proposta e 590 persone e organizzazioni da 27 paesi hanno sottoscritto il nostro appello.

La decisione è stata rinviata: Gli organismi della Fondazione “Memoriali del Brandeburgo” hanno rinviato la decisione. Sia nella seduta del consiglio nazionale del 14 novembre del 2016, sia nella commissione del 6 dicembre del 2016 ci sono state discussioni molto accese. La decisione finale sarà presa il 24 novembre 2017.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Se sei interessata a sostenere anche tu questa iniziativa, invia una mail con la tua firma del testo in giu al seguente indirizzo – fino al 5 novembre 2017 – :  Gedenkkugel@gmx.de
Nome personale:
Activita:
o/e – Organisazione:
Nome/Funzione:
Cita:
Paese:
Sono d’accordo che il mio firma e publicata
—————————————————————————————————————————
Deutsch

Auszug aus dem offiziellen Antrag mit der Inschrift:

“In Gedenken aller lesbischen Frauen und Mädchen im Frauen-KZ Ravensbrück und Uckermark.

Lesbische Frauen galten als „entartet“ und wurden als „asozial“, als widerständig und

ver-rückt und aus anderen Gründen verfolgt und ermordet.

Ihr seid nicht vergessen!”

 

Das Internationale Ravensbrück Komitee (IRK) unterstützt unseren Antrag auf Niederlegung der Gedenkkugel und es haben mittlerweile 590 Personen und Organisationen aus 27 Ländern den Aufruf unterschrieben!

 

Eine Entscheidung wurde verschoben: Sowohl in der Sitzung des Internationalen Beirats am 14. November 2016 als auch in der Fachkommission am 6.12. 2016 gab es sehr kontroverse Diskussionen.

Eine endgültige Entscheidung wurde auf den 24. November 2017 verschoben.

 

——————————————————————————————————-
Bitte unterstützt unsere Initiative mit eurer Unterschrift mit unten folgendem Text und schickt diese Email – bis 5. November 2017 – an: Gedenkkugel@gmx.de
Ich / wir unterstütze(n) den Antrag, die Gedenkkugel für die verfolgten und ermordeten lesbischen Frauen im ehemaligen Frauenkonzentrationslager Ravensbrück dauerhaft zu verankern.
persönlich-Name:
Tätigkeit:
oder/und – Organisation:
Name/Funktion:
Stadt:
Land:
Mit der Veröffentlichung meiner Unterzeichnung bin ich/wir einverstanden.

Melbourne: Moving tribute for lesbians convicted for holding hands on a tram

Hold Hands on a Tram was organized to remind people of lesbopobia – the discrimination uniquely faced by lesbians. It was also a chance to highlight some of the struggles older lesbians face.

‘Often LGBTI histories are talked about as a collective – as though each subgroup had the same experiences,’ Barrett said.

‘These experiences need to be understood – because the past is not dead, there are still legacies of history present in contemporary society.

‘We see this in older lesbians fears about services, in the elder abuse some experience by family members, in the attitudes and behaviours of some community members and community leaders.’

Continue reading at: Moving tribute for lesbians convicted for holding hands on a tram (Source)

Lesbians and the Sexual Politics of Wimbledon

Mauresmo is a two-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic silver medalist who is also known for coaching Andy Murray. After she beat top seed Lindsey Davenport in 1999, she came out as a lesbian—and her body became a rhetorical battleground. She was repeatedly described as bulging, muscular, and intimidating—and Davenport’s bitter mention that playing her was like “playing a guy” was repeated in coverage of her game.

Continue reading at: The Sexual Politics of Wimbledon | JSTOR Daily (Source)

This lesbian couple fell in love during basic training and couldn’t kiss until their last day

Though ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ had been repealed since, they still experienced difficulties being openly together.

‘We came into the Army quite aware that we were gay way before joining. It definitely still had a stigma when we were in. Really the treatment varied. One sergeant that we had was on a lesbian witch hunt, while another protected us. Overall though, it wasn’t a major issue,’ said Turner

Continue reading at: This lesbian couple fell in love during basic training and couldn’t kiss until their last day (Source)

Dykes on Bikes Queensland & Listening 2 Lesbians Take on Facebook Dyke Bans on The Informer-JOY 94.9 Melbourne

The Infomer FB

Is ‘dyke’ a dirty word? Facebook seems to think so and keeps banning lesbians from using it, including Dykes On Bikes Queensland & Listening 2 Lesbians.  Listen to Listening 2 Lesbians’ own Liz Waterhouse discuss Dyke is a Dirty Word. (START AT 09:35)

***Facebook was supposed to show up for the conversation, but told Shannon Power “We’ll get back to you on that”***

TRANSCRIPT:

Participants:
Shannon Power, “The Informer”, Joy FM (SP)
Jules Raven, Dykes on Bikes Queensland (JR)
Liz Waterhouse, Listening2Lesbian.com (LW)

 

<sounds of cheering and motorbikes>

SP: That’s the sound that almost anyone who has been to an LGBTI pride march has heard. It’s the distinct tones of the Dykes on Bikes opening this year’s Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras. Every year the Dykes on Bikes have the honour of opening Pride parades to crowds of excited onlookers. Dykes on bikes are an international lesbian motorcycle club with chapters worldwide but a number of those chapters are at war with social networking site Facebook about whether or not dyke is a dirty word.

Jules Raven heads up Dykes on Bikes Queensland.

Jules thanks so much for joining us. Now I’ve noticed that the Dykes on Bikes Queensland chapter has some interesting spelling on its Facebook page. There’s a space between the D Y and the K E S of Dykes. What’s going on there?

 

JR: about five years ago we originally set the page up with the official Dykes on Bikes Queensland all spelled correctly and looking lovely and probably about four years ago I woke up to an email from Facebook and they had actually removed our name completely. So we originally changed it to, we were only able to get Dyes on Bikes so we had D Y E S and then probably about six months ago after further investigation we were able to put the D K and then the space and then Y E S so it’s been a bit of a battle between us and Facebook. They haven’t given us a reason as to why other than the fact that they felt that it was offensive.

SP: so when you spell dykes the correct way what happens?

JR: it just comes up saying this is offensive and unacceptable for Facebook.

SP: and so you’ve been trying for 4 years and you’ve never had a real reason from Facebook other than the word is offensive?

JR: we’ve never had any contact from Facebook.

SP: right

JR: other than an automated email coming back to us from all of their contact points. I actually got to the point where I wrote them a letter and posted it to their headquarters in silicon valley and we still had no response.

SP: Yeah right, okay

JR: it’s been very frustrating.

SP: yeah so I mean for yourselves Dykes on Bikes we all know in this community and out side of the community. Is this a big deal? Why is it important to have your name spelt correctly on a Facebook page?

JR: it’s a huge deal given that Dykes on Bikes is actually a big international group. Now back in about the 80s, early 90s, the San Francisco club, because it was quite popular, had a bloke came around and started trying to sell T-shirts that had Dykes on Bikes written on it so the American chapters thought they’d better trademark that name. Now what happened from there is to trade mark it they put the trademark application form in and it was rejected because the name dykes was offensive. So they actually fought in the High Court in America and went all the way to the Supreme Court in the USA and won that case. So it’s a bit ironic that an American company of Facebook is the company that’s not allowing us to use that particular word and that name. That’s why we’re fighting for it. That’s why we want to get it right, to be on Facebook. It’s quite stunning to think that a group that has a trademark within their own country is not able to use the name. It’s been very disappointing.

SP: yeah

JR: if we didn’t need to use Facebook we wouldn’t but obviously it’s such a big media hub for us it’s worth us trying to fight and trying to make it right not just for our group but for any other gay and lesbian groups that want to put their own stamp on it and trans groups. We need to be able to, within reason, I do understand that there has to be some barriers but within reason I think you know them not allowing us to use it because they find it offensive isn’t really an excuse any more.

SP: Liz Waterhouse runs the listening2lesbians blog with her partner lisa mallett. They’ve both noticed an increase in censorship of queer women using the word Dyke on Facebook. Liz has been banned, and is in fact currently banned, from using Facebook over her use of the word Dyke.

LW: Women being banned for saying I love dykes, for saying that they are going for a walk with friends who are Dykes, for talking about lesbians politically, socially, just you know really casually we just see post after post being removed, We see woman after woman being banned and it’s a very concerning pattern because for centuries lesbians have been silenced, and erased, and discriminated against and harassed and you know subject to corrective rape and death and we see that around the world still. At listening to lesbians we blog about women’s experiences of discrimination and harassment around the world. We use Facebook to reach out to women around the world, we’ve got a following in you know Africa talking about you know the experiences of African lesbians because of this platform and it’s very concerning that what we are seeing is something which is going to stop us being able to reach those women.

SP: liz and lisa have published numerous posts on the issue on their blog and have reached out to Facebook multiple times for guidance on why people that post the word dyke keep getting into trouble while other hate speech slips through the cracks. Liz explains to The informer why it is so important for persecuted communities to reclaim language that was historically used against them as a slur.

LW: it sounds like it’s just about a word and what can it possibly matter and just stop saying it but either we end up being self censoring, and I was self censoring when I got reported and removed the last time actually. I’d stopped using the word dyke which upset me but I was still reported and removed because it was in the link in my comments, I could see it. But more than just a sort of a social thing and isn’t it a first world problem, which is a question I’ve had, it’s actually something which is going to inhibit us reaching out and forming community around the world, and it’s going to stop us being able to collate information about our collective experiences. And if we can’t collect our experiences together and see a picture, we can’t agitate for change.

SP: the word was once used against them. Can you tell me why dyke is such an important word in terms of reclamation?

LW: so a lot of people have words to reclaim, the word dyke, like in other groups the slurs that are used against us. Some of them are able to be reclaimed, some I’m not so sure about. Dyke is quite a strong word. It has a strong, evocative feeling, and it’s been taken over by women for you know decades as a symbol of strength and pride and resistance. It really is to me a symbol of women taking up space, like Dykes on Bikes. Everybody loves Dykes on Bikes. It’s about noise, it’s about women unapologetically asserting their existence in the world. That’s not something we see lesbians being able to do very often so I think that dyke is quite significant because of its guttural nature, you know linguistically it’s quite strong, because of its social connotations. And it’s not even a word that some women we were thinking about too deeply when they were using it more recently, It’s just become part of how we talk about ourselves. So, from the personal to the political, it’s quite a strong and important word and to see it removed, to see our capacity to use it removed is very concerning.

SP: the informer reached out to Facebook who did get back to us and let us know that they’re doing a preliminary investigation into the particular cases brought up by the Dykes on bikes Queensland and Liz and Lisa from listening to lesbians blog. They’ve told us early on that dyke is considered a slur word and they do need to take into consideration their audience of 2 billion people but will continue looking into the matter and will get back to The Informer at a later date, so we look forward to having Facebook come back on joy to let us know exactly why they think dyke is a dirty word.

 

Listening 2 Lesbians Asks Facebook the Hard Questions About “Dyke” Bans

Banned Dykes

From: Listening 2 Lesbians

To: Facebook Press and Hard Questions at Facebook (hardquestions@fb.com, press@fb.com)

Dear Facebook Press:

Listening 2 Lesbians is a blog with a mission to report on discrimination and violence against lesbians.  You may not be aware, but discrimination and violence against lesbians, because of our sexual orientation and because of our female bodies, is rampant in today’s world.  From no-platforming to corrective rape, to job discrimination, to murder, we are constantly aware of the silencing of our community and the attempts to control and harm our bodies because we are lesbians.  Because of this, we have been deeply disturbed to learn that there have been a rash of post deletions and bans by your company for women that post status updates with the word “dyke” in their posts.

Perhaps you are not aware of the history of the word “dyke”, or of lesbian culture, or of the act of reclaiming slurs from the oppressor to be used as acts of self-empowerment and identity by minorities.  Dyke has been and can be used as a derogatory term (hate speech) to attack same-sex attracted females.  We hope at Facebook you acknowledge that all such speech should be banned from public spaces.  However, dyke is also a word that has been reclaimed by the lesbian community to represent our lesbian pride, sisterhood and power as female loving females.

We are deeply disturbed that lesbians and women showing support for our community, are being banned for expressing their love and respect for our culture.  We are also deeply disturbed that women are being silenced when they express their views on what it means to be a dyke.  This is a conversation for lesbians only and should not be controlled or manipulated by anyone outside of our community.

Here are examples of posts that have been deleted and women who have been banned for using the word dyke in a post.  Be aware that we are not convinced you will accept emails with images attached, so we will simply quote the text.  Please read our blog, Facebook Has a Problem With Dykes, at https://listening2lesbians.com/2017/06/24/facebook-has-a-problem-with-dykes/ for full images and information on the situation.

Quotes from women that were deleted by Facebook and/or caused the woman to be blocked/banned:

“I love that there’s a band of dykes that plays at the local farmer’s market.  Like, how perfect is that??  It’s total perfect.”

“I LOVE DYKES!!!!”

“Only lesbians are dykes.  Only females can be lesbians.  We are still here.”

“When dyke marches were still for dykes.” (With historical image of a dyke march)

 “People need to quit rewriting history. Dykes do things. #visibilitymatters” (With historical image of Storme DeLaverie, the lesbian who started the Stonewall riots.)

“Does self identifying as a DYKE get you banned on Facebook experiment.” (It did)

Again, this is just a small set of examples.  Please visit our blog for more information.

In an NPR article entitled, From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg, a spokesperson for your company told NPR:

“It’s OK to use racial slurs when being self-referential. A black person can say things like “my niggers.” But no one can use a slur to attack an individual or group. That’s prohibited. A white person cannot use the word “nigger” to mock or attack blacks. Blacks can’t use “crakkker” (in whatever spelling) to offend whites.” (http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/17/495827410/from-hate-speech-to-fake-news-the-content-crisis-facing-mark-zuckerberg)

Clearly, there has been at the very least, a misuse of the Community Standards at Facebook, and at worse, a misuse of power and position by Facebook employees.  This is why we have some hard questions for management at Facebook:

  1. If a Community Operations Team employee is responsible for banning and deleting all reported posts, can FB monitor if an employee, or group of employees is showing political or social biases in their decision making? For example, is it possible for an employee to get away with targeting a select group of people for deletion or banning, even if their posts don’t violate Community Standard?
  2. What groups or organizations are influencing the content and wording of Community Standards? Have they demonstrated lesbophobic and/or misogynistic language or tendencies?
  3. It appears as if certain women who are part of certain Facebook groups have been targeted more than others. Is the new AI you are using to fight terrorism and hate-speech (The Online Civil Courage Initiative) also capturing feminist and lesbian-only groups in its net and considering them a cluster?
  4. If the new AI that you are using has algorithms that can understand context, and you are using this AI on Facebook users in lesbian and women’s communities, why is it unable to differentiate between a pro-lesbian dyke post and a post where dyke is being used as hate speech?
  5. If all AI flagged posts are also seen and evaluated by a Community Operations Team employee, why are they also not able to read context?
  6. Will Facebook investigate the issues we have brought forth to you today?
  7. If you find that an individual employee, or group of employees, has been abusing their position at Facebook to target and silence lesbians and other women they do not agree with, will Facebook tell the communities affected and issue a public apology?

Thank you for your time.

Liz & Lisa

Listening 2 Lesbians

www.listening2lesbians.com

Lesbian and gay black leaders speak about finding their place

“Each time, I thought ‘I can’t really be out because I’ve got enough trouble. I’m black and a female, do I really want to add another one so I can actually really get the door slammed in my face?,’ ” the business consultant and affiliate faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies told a crowd at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum. She was part of a panel discussion titled “Not A Trend: The Truth.”

“Gay was not a term that fit me because of the other stereotype, gay people are white they are not black. That is a prevailing understanding,” Dunlap, 70, said. “The other struggle for me was, of course, my community and my church. It is difficult, very, very difficult to sit in church and hear these sermons that were so condemning.”

Continue reading at: Gay, black leaders speak about finding their place | Tampa Bay Times (Source)

ERASURE: THE NEW NORMAL FOR LESBIANS BY @VABVOX

A Room of Our Own
A Feminist/Womanist Network

Victoria Brownworth
Daily Disquisitions

“Lesbian sexual identity and choice is being eroded, erased and elided. This is being done by the literal obliteration of lesbians by state-sponsored violence, by the “corrective rape of lesbians” (imagine the 12 year old Pearl Mali being given the worst sort of reparative therapy by her very own mother), by the harassment and violence, by the firings (lesbians face more job discrimination than any other group within the LGBT alliance), by the enforced and compulsory heterosexuality of every society on earth. Aderonke Apata has been forced, by men, to provide not just spoken testimony and a pending marriage license, but also a sex tape of her having sexual relations with her partner to “prove” her lesbianism to the men who want to erase that aspect of her identity–the very identity that puts her and millions of other lesbians at risk of imprisonment and/or death.”

Continue reading Victoria Brownworth and other contributors to A Room of Our Own at: Erasure: The New Normal for Lesbians by @VABVOX – A Room of Our Own (Source)

AND MORE Victoria Brownworth at: https://www.victoriabrownworth.com/

Brenda Fassie: South African lesbian icon immortalised in comic book

Beukes knew from her first book, Maverick, a pop history on women in the country, that there were many who could fit the bill for Femme Magnifique. “I had many to choose from, from Lilian Ngoyi to Ruth First, Krotoa Eva and Sara Baartman.

“But Brenda Fassie worked on so many levels, as a provocative pop star, as a lesbian icon [she came out on Mambaonline in 2003], as a black woman who lived through apartheid and sang about the personal and the political.”

Continue reading at: Brenda Fassie immortalised in comic book – MambaOnline – Gay South Africa online (Source)

‘Anna Livia Lesbia’ writer Joni Crone discusses coming out and being lesbian in 1980’s Ireland

It’s nearly 40 years ago but Joni Crone still remembers the “whoosh” of the studio lights seeking her out and her stomach churning fear as she waited for Gay Byrne to tell her relatives, neighbours, work colleagues – and the nation – that she was a lesbian. A sympathetic member of the Late Late Show team had given her a double vodka when she wondered if she was about to be the first person to faint on live TV. “He held my hand and said ‘trust me’. He told me I’d be grand, to just look Gay in the eye and to forget about everything else”.

It was 1980, two years before Declan Flynn, a gay man, was beaten to death in Fairview Park in Dublin. Homosexuality would be regarded as a crime for another 13 years. Crone was there to talk about the need for law reform and to give an insight into the horror stories she regularly heard on the helpline Lesbian Line, where she had once listened in as a whispering caller was interrupted and beaten in her own home. That caller rang back from a hospital corridor days later. Crone wanted to give out the telephone number of the helpline on the show so people like her would have somewhere to turn.

Continue reading at: Being gay she was asked if her parents thought she was “mentally deficient” (Source)

Sally Ride: First lesbian astronaut

Before she reached space, the Californian native had to endure sexist media enquiries like “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?” and “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?”

When she was asked “Will you become a mother?”, a fed-up Ride tried to avoid the question, before remarking sardonically: “You notice I’m not answering.”

Later, she commented: “It may be too bad that our society isn’t further along, and that this is such a big deal.”

Continue reading at: Who was the first gay astronaut? · PinkNews (Source)

ACTUALIZE: An Intentional Lesbian Gathering

Being a lesbian can sometimes be an extremely isolating experience. The purpose of this gathering was to combat that by connecting a group of us to each other, and by using our time spent together to support lesbian artists and celebrate lesbian achievements.

Continue reading at: ACTUALIZE: An Intentional Lesbian Gathering | (Source)