Tag Archives: Lesbophobia

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

Thoughts Essay Photo - Erin

Guest Post by Erin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Belgium: Lesbian couple victim of lesbophobic violence in asylum centre

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‘From day one we already got threats. In one way or another the news spread very quickly that a lesbian couple was staying in the center. Since then, we are being chased and spitting at our feet. Once they threw balls at us, which caused me to suffer scrapes.But it quickly became a lot worse, “says an emotional Gona. 

The couple say she feels unsafe. ‘Our first room was completely behind the asylum center, far away from the employees. If something went wrong, it took a long time before an employee could come on the spot. ‘ They say it did not help that they were so far away from the employees. ‘In the evening only two staff members are present for the complete asylum center. If it goes wrong here, then all help will come too late. ” 

They were offered another room. But when they went to visit, the residents who stayed in the new hallway did not want to let them through. “A lesbian couple is not welcome in their ‘department'”.

Continue reading at: https://zizo-online.be/article/13252 (Source – Dutch)

Lesbian couple victim of LGBT violence in asylum center ZiZo-Online (Translated pdf – English)

Sacramento, US: man blankets street with lesbophobic flyers

Man blankets a street with vile flyers claiming lesbian sex causes cancer

This man sparked outrage after blanketing a street with flyers that falsely claim lesbian sex causes cancer.

The man refused to speak when confronted by homeowners in the West Sacramento neighborhood about his leaflet, titled ‘The key to the mystery of estrogen and cancer.’

Continue reading at: https://metro.co.uk/2018/07/05/man-blankets-street-vile-flyers-claiming-lesbian-sex-causes-cancer-7687338/  (source)

San Francisco: Dyke March 2018

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At the San Francisco Dyke March on 23rd June 2018,  a small number of lesbians attended with signs ranging from pro lesbian slogans to ones highlighting concerns with the use of puberty blockers in minors.

What followed is contested but much like the 2018 Baltimore Dyke March, at the San Francisco Dyke March lesbians who carried controversial signs were subjected to verbal abuse at the event, and harassment on social media afterwards. The verbal abuse at the San Francisco Dyke March was prolonged with the women significantly outnumbered 5-to-1. The altercation became physical, as evidenced by the damage sustained to the sign below:

 

Damaged sign

This video is the only known footage of the (end of the) incident.

Social media reports and screen shots of the incident and its aftermath have been excluded in the interests of not promoting further harassment of any women.

The March Organisers put out the following statement:

 

No mainstream or LGBTI news sources have yet reported on this incident to our knowledge.

 

 

Massachusetts, US: Boston lesbian couple assaulted at bar by raging man screaming homophobic slurs: ‘He beat us both to a pulp’

Kelly Gonyer Malden MA attack

A lesbian couple says they were attacked at a Massachusetts pub by a random man who saw them kissing and began yelling homophobic slurs.

The incident happened at Dockside Restaurant in Malden, north of Boston, where Michelle Hart and Kelly Gonyer were meeting for a date.

“I kissed her,” Gonyer said. “That is what provoked everything. That made him very mad.”

Continue reading at: https://www.rawstory.com/2018/06/boston-lesbian-couple-assaulted-bar-raging-man-screaming-homophobic-slurs-beat-us-pulp/ (Source)

St Louis, Missouri: Attack on young lesbian outside bar

Lesbian attack report

A police report was filed by a young lesbian, in late May 2018 in St. Louis after she was attacked outside the Grey Fox Pub by 3 individuals after a disagreement inside the bar.
lesbian attack 6

According to the victim, she was attending a drag show at a bar she used to frequent, when a trans identified female approached her and told her she was not welcome. The victim then responded “why, because I know you’re female?”

 

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The bartender then asked the victim to leave. According to the victim and her girlfriend, she was attacked by 3 individuals who were waiting just outside the door for her leave. She was beaten and sustained injuries, but is recovering at this time. The three individuals then took to social media to brag about beating the victim and were seemingly able to be identified through their social media accounts, some of which have since closed. 

Lesbian attack 2

Social media posts by the attackers reveal that they knew the victim was a lesbian and referred to her several times as a “TERF”, a derogatory term used against anyone that questions gender identity.
One of the alleged attackers was apparently fired, with New American Funding releasing a statement condemning the attack.
Lesbian attack 5
An investigation is now pending. There has been no reporting by mainstream LGBT media on this incident.

 

 

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:

Illinois, USA: Former Joliet caregiver abused, discriminated for being a lesbian

[Nicole] Novak alleges that in 2016, her manager, Meagen Galloway, discriminated against her because she is a lesbian, saying “being a lesbian is a disability and said that lesbians should be banned because the Bible is against such behavior.”

Continue reading at: http://www.theherald-news.com/2018/01/12/lawsuit-former-joliet-caregiver-abused-discriminated-for-being-a-lesbian/airjlhr/ (Source)

New York, USA: DNA Vindicates Lesbian Rape Victim Smeared by Daily News and NYPD 24 Years Later

Mike McAlary Rape Hoax vindicated

On an afternoon in late April 1994, a young woman was raped in broad daylight in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Two days later, the biggest columnist in New York City’s biggest newspaper called her a liar.

The woman—black, a lesbian, and an activist—became the target of a vicious smear campaign by a Daily News columnist and sources within the NYPD, who charged that she had made up a “hoax” to advance a political agenda.

“I have had the misfortune of being raped twice—once in the park and again in the media,” she told her lawyer, Martin Garbus, after the attack.

Continue reading at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/in-1994-nypd-brass-called-her-rape-a-hoax-in-2018-they-found-her-rapist (Source)

Cameroon: Two women arrested for lesbianism while walking together

The Ndogbong gendarmerie, where Coco and Vivi were detained and tortured for three days. (Photo by Jacks Oke)

Around midnight, gendarmes arrived, beat up the two friends, arrested them, and hauled them to the gendarmerie on charges of lesbianism.  The officers interrogated them, kicked them, and beat them with the flat side of a machete blade.  They were handcuffed and hung, standing, from a window frame. The mistreatment lasted for three days.

Continue reading at: https://76crimes.com/2017/12/28/cameroon-two-women-arrested-for-walking-together/ (Source)

South Africa: Lesbian, 23, stabbed to death in Strand shebeen

Noxolo Xakeka

The only crime Noxolo Xakeka from Strand committed was that she was a lesbian. She was stabbed to death on New Year’s Day.

During celebrations in a shack in Blaau Street, Lwandle, the 23-year-old mother was harassed, called names and assaulted before being stabbed to death by a young man. Her family claim the attack was because of her sexual orientation.

Continue reading at: https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/lesbian-23-stabbed-to-death-in-strand-shebeen-12618736 (Source)

Russia and Ukraine: ‘Please don’t make the mistake we have’ – one Lesbian family’s account of running away from Russia

“We soon found out that we couldn’t work, but we thought there wouldn’t be a problem getting our daughter into school,” said Esenia.

“After her first week there, the director of the school told us that our daughter had three months left at school. She cited an ancient, obscure law, where when people come from another part of Russia, you need some papers to validate your child’s education, and of course we didn’t have them,” she said.

“She then said that once the three months were up, she would refer my daughter to the social services. That’s when we knew we needed to move,” she explained.

Continue reading at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/01/11/exclusive-please-dont-make-the-mistake-we-have-one-lgbt-familys-account-of-running-away-from-russia/ (Source)

UK: ‘Overzealous’ school apologises for putting ‘censored’ stickers on GCSE artwork of women kissing but denies ex-student’s ‘homophobic’ accusation

Photo source: Facebook

A school has been blasted by a former student after placing ‘censored’ stickers over her GCSE artwork which showed two women kissing. Megan Angus accused Laurence Jackson school in Guisborough, North Yorkshire, of being ‘homophobic’, but education chiefs defended their actions saying it was done because they were ‘mindful of the impact the sexually explicit drawing may have on younger students’. However, the school has apologised, admitting it may have been ‘overzealous’.

Continue reading at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5262503/Guisborough-school-apologises-censoring-LGBT-artwork.html#ixzz544OxmpTl (Source)

Australia: Lesbian couple ‘subjected to homophobic slurs on Jetstar flight’

 

Cat Franke, left, with her partner Julz Evans, says she feared for her life.

“I feared for mine and my partner’s lives on that plane, we were physically trapped with someone who wanted to hurt us and make sure we had a terrible time,” Ms Franke wrote. “When I spoke up to ask him to stop, he only got more aggressive and louder with his homophobic hate speech and began boxing the back of my partner’s chair.”

Continue reading at: http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/gay-couple-subjected-to-homophobic-slurs-on-jetstar-flight/news-story/267604f358bef175abbe1b2a61cb6df6 (Source)

In Memoriam: Lesbian Murder Victims (November 2017 Update)

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

This month we honor the following sisters:

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

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

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

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

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

Ireland: Donegal lesbian IVF mum is denied Irish passport for her son as 1956 law states she’s not the little tot’s mother

Holly, left, and Katie with newborn Griffin

Little Griffin was then born in August after the newlywed couple’s third IVF attempt was successful.

But only Holly, 31, was marked as his mum on the birth cert — with Katie, 34, from Gweedore, Co Donegal, put as a generic “parent”.

However, Irish laws from 1956 define a parent as only a child’s “mother” or “father” and the Passport Office refused Katie’s application for 11-week-old Griffin.

Continue reading at: https://www.thesun.ie/news/1770531/donegal-lesbian-ivf-mum-is-denied-irish-passport-for-her-son-as-1956-law-states-shes-not-the-little-tots-mother/ (Source)

Formerly lesbian basketball coach loses job offer for anti-gay rant after coming out as straight

LeNoir wanted to coach female basketball players, but she said most of them were in a sinful relationship and the very sport they were playing was derived from satan.

Continue reading at: https://www.outsports.com/2017/11/6/16611650/camille-lenoir-gay-basketball-coach (Source)

Canada: Lesbian seniors talk about isolation, safe housing concerns at Winnipeg summit

Roberta Bishop Winnipeg

Roberta Bishop says more talk with health-care providers is needed to ensure LGBT seniors have better experiences in personal care homes, for example. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Bishop recalled the story of a woman who lost her spouse of 25 years.

The woman didn’t tell her friends in her knitting group that her partner was a female until the shooting at Pulse nightclub happened in Orlando in 2016, Bishop said.

“There’s an assumption that if you get old and you’re widowed, then you’ve lost a man,” Bishop said, explaining why the woman didn’t reveal her partner’s identity sooner.

Continue reading at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/finding-rainbows-summit-winnipeg-1.4391413 (Source)

Manitoba lesbians report homophobia in health-care system, study says

More than 40 women were interviewed for the study and the vast majority of them reported experiencing homophobia and transphobia in Manitoba's health-care system.

“Many people talked about how health-care practitioners would not look them in the eye, seemed flustered by them or just generally communicated through body language that they were uncomfortable,” McPhail said.

Continue reading at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/lgbt-lesbian-queer-trans-manitoba-winnipeg-health-care-1.3445825 (Source)

Horrific abuse hurled at lesbian and gay Aussies during postal survey

A 23-year-old Sydneysider told Daily Mail Australia that her girlfriend has been unable to leave the house for fear of being harassed or abused again.

‘A couple of years ago, she was beaten severely enough to go into a coma because she kissed her [same-sex] partner goodbye in public,’ the woman said.

‘Despite this, she’s had mail in her letterbox telling her that she’s wrong and an abomination, and it we’ve also had our front door vandalised (graffiti with ‘die f*gs’) because we chalked a rainbow on our front wall.’It’s been horrible for her mental health; to top it off, because she hasn’t been able to make it into work, she recently lost her job.’

Continue reading at: Horrific abuse hurled at gay Aussies during postal survey | Daily Mail Online (Source)