Tag Archives: Lesbian history

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)

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Though ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ had been repealed since, they still experienced difficulties being openly together.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

5 lesbian activist groups who fought for us

Lesbians have always been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT rights, but sometimes lesbian activist groups were needed to fight for space on lesbian rights and issues.  This is because, as Canadian journalist and activist Judy Rebick had noted, that while lesbians were part of the women’s movement, their issues were invisible in the movement.  Aside from Daughters of Bilitis to the Lesbian Avengers, here are five more groups that let people know that lesbians can’t be pushed around.

Continue reading at: 5 lesbian activist groups who fought for us | Lesbian News (Source)

Adrienne Rich: Poet, activist, and lesbian

Adrienne Rich is considered one of preeminent American poets. But she’s also well-known for her political stance as feminist and activist.

Continue reading at: Adrienne Rich: Poet, activist, and lesbian | Lesbian News (Source)

The Lesbian Avengers 25 Years Later: “We Did It, And We Can Do It Again”

“It’s good to remember that activism works,” she tells me, “because everyone needs a sense of hope right now.” Cogswell and her former Lesbian Avenger cohorts are hopeful the exhibition will help reignite that DIY activist spark, and bridge the gap between the movement’s history and our current challenges.

Continue reading at: The Lesbian Avengers 25 Years Later: “We Did It, And We Can Do It Again” | NewNowNext (Source)

Georgia: City honors life of first out lesbian Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner

Poster

Several hundred mourners gathered on Saturday to honor the life of the late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, who died of breast cancer on April 18. Garner was a beloved community figure and the first openly LGBT Fulton County Commissioner.

Garner made an impact in a variety of different communities and circles throughout her life, and speakers at the service at Ebenzer Baptist Church reflected on the legacy she left through her work in neighborhoods, as county commissioner, as an Atlanta intown activist, as a champion for those in need and her work in social justice and LGBT rights.

Continue reading at: City honors life of late Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner (Source)

Elaine Noble: The first lesbian state lawmaker

If you’re feeling hopeless with our current crop of legislators in Congress, consider Elaine Noble– the first out lesbian elected to state legislature– and be inspired.

Elaine Noble made US election history even before Maura Healey, Harvey, Milk, or Tammy Baldwin as she was elected as representative of the Boston district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1974.

Prior to this, no out lesbian (or gay man, for that matter), had won a state-level office. So when she did run for the position, she faced an overwhelming wave of homophobic threats.

Continue reading at: Elaine Noble: The first lesbian state lawmaker | Lesbian News (Source)

Honoring Del Martin, Lesbian Rights Pioneer

Sometimes you just want to fox-trot or cha-cha. Since it was often illegal for same-sex couples to dance together in public places in the 1950s, Del Martin and her partner, Phyllis Lyon, founded the Daughters of Bilitis, one of the first lesbian organizations in the United States, in 1955. But the DOB was much more than just a place to dance freely: In those dark days, it was a beacon of light, a refuge, and a bit of a miracle.

Continue reading at: Honoring Del Martin, Lesbian Rights Pioneer – Vogue (Source)

Lesbian Herstory Archives – Brooklyn, New York

The women were also concerned about how difficult it was to get any information about lesbian history through traditional academic channels. Even when it could be found, the research process itself could be dehumanizing, requiring searching under categories like “deviant” and “abnormal.”

Continue reading at: Lesbian Herstory Archives – Brooklyn, New York – Atlas Obscura (Source)

Margarethe Cammermeyer breaks the military silence

Cammermeyer stepped into the spotlight when, despite being a decorated soldier, she was given an honorable discharge on June 11, 1992.  This came following her admission that she was a lesbian during a routine security clearance interview in 1989.  Though this dashed her dream of becoming a Chief Nurse of the National Army Guard, it started her on the road of legal disputes as she filed a lawsuit against the decision in civil court.  This paid off in June 1994, when Judge Thomas Zilly of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that her discharge and the ban on homosexuals serving in the military were unconstitutional.

Continue reading at: Margarethe Cammermeyer breaks the military silence | Lesbian News (Source)

Uganda: Lesbian refugee shares her story 

Yudaya is a member of Out and Proud Africa which is an African Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex rights and human rights activist charity. Their mission is to defend human dignity, freedom, justice and equality for LGBTI people in Africa.

Continue watching at: WATCH: This refugee’s story will open your eyes to the fears LGBTIs face in Uganda (Source)

Australian research project documents lesbian witch-hunts in military before ban lifted

“They were doing these big witch-hunts on us… it was terrifying to a 17-year-old kid,” Jeffries said. “They’d been following us. They’d done a log, like at 2.35 on Thursday afternoon you drove 4.6km and you stopped at this hamburger shop, then you drove down the river and were there for 3.5 hours.”

Continue reading at: This Is What Happened To Gay People In The Military Before The Ban Was Lifted (Source)