Tag Archives: personal stories

Bolzano, Italy: Mariasilvia Spolato, Italy’s first lesbian to publicly come out, dies at 83

MariaSilvia Spolato.png

Mariasilvia Spolato lost everything after her coming out and ended up sleeping rough for many years.

Mariasilvia Spolato, an Italian LGBTI activist and reportedly the first woman to come out as a lesbian in the country, has died. Spolato died on 31 October in a nursing home in Bolzano, a city in the South Tyrol province of north Italy. She was 83 years old.

Continue reading at: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/first-italian-woman-to-publicly-come-out-as-lesbian-dies-at-83/#gs.iirzszQ (Source)

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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 When “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (DADT) the military policy banning service members from serving openly, was repealed, their discharges were never upgraded.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:

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)

Daughter of homophobic executive of Focus of the Family on why she came out as lesbian

A daughter of one of the most virulently homophobic voices in the United States has come out as a lesbian.

Amber Cantorna has chosen to come out even though her father helps to lead Focus on the Family – an extremely homophobic faith organization.  It has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight against marriage equality, advocated for dangerous ‘gay cure’ therapy, and fought against same-sex parents having adoption rights.

And when she came out to friends and family, she was immediately rejected by her family and was excommunicated from her church.

Continue reading at: Daughter of homophobic executive of Focus of the Family on why she came out as lesbian (Source)

New Documentary Highlights Lesbian Struggle for Equality in Alabama

On why they chose to follow only lesbian couples

“The reason we are focusing on lesbians is that in the Birmingham area they’ve been previously invisible,” Sherer says. “And partly that may be because of the AIDS crisis and the attention that was placed on what was going on in in the 80s in Birmingham.”

Continue reading at: New Documentary Highlights Lesbian Struggle for Equality in Alabama | WBHM 90.3 (Source)

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

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

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

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

When Queerness Is Cultural Capital, Lesbians Go Broke.

Jocelyn Macdonald
AfterEllen.com

“When Mike Pence advocated for conversion therapy as a Congressman, he wasn’t targeting those people who like to be ball-gagged or beaten during sex. He and his cronies are coming for those of us who want to live that gay lifestyle (with and without ball gags). Theresa Butz didn’t get to explain the infinitesimal nuance of her identity to the man who raped and murdered her for having the audacity to live with her girlfriend. The violence that lesbians experience is specific to being lesbian, and the culture that lesbians enjoy is specific to being lesbian. Both ends of this, the good and the bad, are the stuff a movement is based on. Queer identity and queer culture both stop short of speaking to this lesbian experience.”

Continue reading more of Jocelyn Macdonald at: When Queerness Is Cultural Capital, Lesbians Go Broke. – AfterEllen (Source)

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)

For a woman with internalized homophobia

Purple Sage
Lesbian, feminist, gender abolitionist.

“You are reluctant to believe that you could be a lesbian and that is because you don’t think that having a lesbian orientation is okay. I hope you will take some time to ask yourself why loving another woman would be wrong. I understand you have a religious faith and this is informing your beliefs. Why do you think your church opposes homosexuality?”

Continue reading Purple Sage at: For a woman with internalized homophobia | Purple Sage (Source)

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)

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)

Lesbians Over Everything: Out and Proud, Lesbian Visibility Day 2017

In celebration of lesbian visibility day, here are six real life lesbian adults who are out, proud, and living their best lives.

Continue reading at: Lesbian Visibility Day | (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)

The best decision I’ve ever made? Coming out at 65

From the time I was a teenager, I was attracted to women, but it was difficult back then to even think about my sexuality. I was born 71 years ago, when the social and cultural repression around homosexuality was at its peak in the US. As a young adult I had several intense friendships – crushes really – on women, including one that was loving, sensual and addictive. However, the idea that it could ever be sexual didn’t occur to me. My sister remembers me saying, a few years later, that I found relationships with my women friends difficult – the feelings were just that strong. Because I didn’t know what to do with them, there was a lot of internal conflict.

Continue reading at: The best decision I’ve ever made? Coming out at 65 | Opinion | The Guardian (Source)

Lesbian Choices: An Indian Tragedy

A recent murder case in Gujarat India highlights the plight of lesbians who are trapped in abusive situations in countries with high rates of family imposed sex-based abuse and homophobia and where living independently as a woman and lesbian is difficult. Where there are few to no legal or social remedies to prevent violence against themselves and their loved ones, abused lesbians may have no meaningful choices other than to remain in danger or breach legal or social rules. All courses of action open to them will be harmful, and possibly dangerous. Retaliating to stop the violence may stop familial abuse but results in exposure to significant legal sanctions. The emotional and psychological toll of facing these choices and their consequences adds to the tragedy of women trapped in this way.

In early April 2017, the body of a man, Yunis Maniya, was found in Bharuch dictrict of Gujarat, India. A woman (Mayaben), reportedly the lesbian partner of the victim’s daughter (Jaheda), and an unrelated male (Jayendra) have been charged with the man’s murder. The motive for the murder is reported by the local police responsible for the investigation as the ending of sexuality-based domestic violence:

“The motive behind the murder was the victim’s opposition to the lesbian relationship. The accused was having an affair with the daughter of the deceased. He used to beat his daughter in a bid to discourage her from having a relationship with the accused. This incited the automobile broker who later hatched the plan to murder him,” said deputy SP of Bharuch N D Chauhan.

Information on this case is scarce in English and the articles do not appear sympathetic to the plight of the abused daughter or her partner accused of the murder. What isn’t clear, reading only the English articles, is what the options would be for women experiencing domestic violence on the basis of their sexuality in a country where sex-based violence against women alone is endemic, homophobia is widespread and women’s capacity to leave the family circle is limited.

While domestic violence is illegal in India, women and girls remain highly susceptible to abuse within the family. In 2016 it was reported that so-called honour killings had risen by 800% year on year, although it is unclear whether this represents an increase in the killings or an increase in reporting.

Lesbians are particularly vulnerable given the criminalisation of same sex activities under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, introduced in 1860 and only repealed in 2009. In 2016 the Indian Supreme Court committed to reviewing Section 377 after a 2013 decision had reinstated the law . Only months before, a 2 judge bench of the Supreme Court named homosexuality “a social evil for some” in a tax ruling on a Gujurati film on homosexuality. The Supreme Court action was reportedly the last chance for law reform, save only an appeal to the conservative politicians of India.

Although the legal sanctions are not directly applied, they remain a potent backdrop to social sanctions and persecution in a country where national surveys report a 75% disapproval rate of homosexuality and in which lesbians face a double oppression as both women and lesbians.

A brief reading of lesbian writings about their life in India demonstrates some of the risks lesbians face, both on the basis of their sex and their sexuality.

This Gujurati case represents the catch-22 lesbian around the world can face – how do lesbians being abused for their sexuality and relationships defend themselves in societies where violence against women is endemic and where homosexuality is punished? This is a no win situation for lesbians who are trapped in violent situations with few options for escape or defense, and where retaliatory violence exposes them to far greater legal sanctions.

When lesbians have no safe way to leave or stay, what meaningful choice remains?


We have tried to ensure information presented in this piece is accurate, however if you notice any inaccuracies or accidental misrepresentations, please email us with additional information at liz@listening2lesbians.com or lisa@listening2lesbians.com.

Sources:

More on the legal situation and processes:

 

 

“I Struggled Coming Out To Myself”

After my coming out to my best friend, my life felt more real than it had ever felt. It was liberating to be able to go to school and be who I really was. Even though I had still had to lead a double life at home, I was happy that I could be out and proud at school. Slowly, my friends started to realize that I wasn’t actually attracted to guys at all. I was an out and proud lesbian by the age of 15. This was very liberating. School then became my sanctuary. I was able to be myself and be happy.

Continue reading at: “I Struggled Coming Out To Myself” (Source)

The serendipitous path of Roberta Kaplan 

Roberta Kaplan was once described by Arianna Huffington during a live interview at Fortune as “a powerhouse corporate litigator.”In the corporate legal field, brilliant litigators are a dime a dozen. But what differentiated Kaplan was that she met Edie Windsor and the two teamed up in a David and Goliath kind of a legal case.With Windsor, Kaplan entered the history books in 2013 when the Supreme Court invalidated certain sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the case of United States v. Windsor. This case later led to the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges two years later that struck down all barriers to same-sex marriage across the US. For a lot of the LGBT people, it was serendipity: the fearlessness of Windsor partnered with the passion of Kaplan.Thanks to these two lesbians, America could now enjoy the rights of same-sex marriage.

Continue reading at: The serendipitous path of Roberta Kaplan | Lesbian News (Source)

Lydia Polgreen: Black Lesbian Changing Journalism

The last time Lydia Polgreen felt boredom — real boredom, the soul-crushing kind — she was 21 and working for a company in suburban Virginia that helped applicants for H-1B visas. The job was a stopgap between college, where she’d studied Marx and Hegel, and a hazy, uncertain future in which she imagined she might teach philosophy. In the meantime, there she was toiling in some random job, waiting for each day to end. “At some point I thought, This can’t be how my life is going to go. This isn’t for me,” she recalls. “I’m not a person who should ever be looking at the clock, waiting for things to be over — that’s not my destiny.”

Continue reading at: Lydia Polgreen: Meet the Queer Black Woman Changing Journalism | Out Magazine (Source)

Lesbians in the News – 24 October 2015

Lesbians in the News 24 October 2015

“Lethal threat for the whole of humankind” – ongoing persecution in Russia

anti-gay propaganda

News for Russian lesbians gets grimmer as new legislation flags the possibility of being fined or arrested for merely coming out on the grounds of homosexuality posing a “lethal threat for the whole of humankind”.  The legislation is matched by public opinion reportedly showing an increase in the percentage of the population who believe that lesbians and gay men should be “isolated from the population”, with one fifth purportedly supporting the “liquidation” of the LGBTI  community. Following previous anti lesbian and gay crackdowns, including the banning of “anti gay propaganda” in 2013, the proposed legislation would fine Russian lesbians and gay men for publicly declaring their sexuality, with proposed incarceration for making the “declaration” in a school, cultural institution or public building.
The situation for lesbians in many parts of the world remains dire, with legal sanctions complementing social sanctions including horrific rates of corrective rape, as reported by Victoria A. Brownworth.

Arts & Entertainment

  • Lesbian representation on television and in movies gets a critical eye.  Is there a ‘Need Not Apply’ sign for lesbians that are not white, thin and femme?
  • FujiTV in Japan will debut a new drama on November 7th featuring a love story between two women.  Some argue the series isn’t going far enough in portraying current real world situations for Japan’s lesbian community.
  • Lesbian playwright and head writer of The Laramie Project, Leigh Fondakowski, is opening a new play, Spill, about the BP Oil spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010.

Laws, Politics and Policies

  • The State of Utah is paying up after denying a lesbian couple a birth certificate for their child with the names of both mothers included on it.
  • Civil unions began in heavily Catholic Chile on October 22nd.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union is taking on a northern California high school that sent a student home for wearing a ‘Nobody Knows I’m a Lesbian’ t-shirt.  According to the school, the t-shirt was an “open invitation to sex,” which sounds scarily similar to accusations leveraged against rape survivors.  The student fears she will be expelled if she wears the t-shirt to school again.  On the opposite coast, a lesbian teacher in New York details the harassment and bullying she experienced from the principal and assistant principal of her school.  When she complained about the bullying her son was getting at school she was told, “It is an abomination against God, and you made this child a victim of your poor choices.”  Charming.
  • Did you ever wonder how Roberta Kaplan and Edie Windsor met?  The Advocate does a great story on the powerhouse these two women created in changing the fight for marriage equality in the U.S. forever.

Social and Health Issues

Crimes against Lesbians

  • A woman in Louisiana has been arrested for cruelty towards her lesbian daughter, including suggesting on more than one occasion that her daughter commit suicide.
  • UK figures report a dramatic rise in homophobic hate crimes, although it’s not clear what percentage is against men and women, and what percentage of crimes are even reported.
  • Lesbian and gay asylum seekers face homophobia in Europe from fellow asylum seekers, according to the Washington Post. The article is notably silent on the experiences of Lesbians.

Events

Profound thanks to Lisa for compiling the vast majority of this edition of Lesbians in the News.

If you have any other stories, please add them in the comments or email them to me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.