Tag Archives: representation

Methodist court ruling a blow for openly lesbian bishop

The court said Oliveto’s marriage violates church law that bars clergy who are in same-sex relationships. The court said she’s now subject to a disciplinary review that could end with her being ousted from the job.

Continue reading at: Methodist court ruling a blow for openly lesbian bishop – NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida (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)

Chelsea Savage: Lesbian, cult survivor, politician, sets her sights on Virginia House seat

Chelsea Savage survived life in a cult, found the strength to leave her husband, and is now an out and proud lesbian looking to begin a political career.

Continue reading at: Lesbian cult survivor sets her sights on Virginia House seat / LGBTQ Nation (Source)

Methodists to consider expulsion of married lesbian bishop

The United Methodist Church is to hold a hearing tomorrow to consider the future of a married lesbian who was elected as a bishop.  San Francisco pastor Karen Oliveto was elected unanimously to serve as bishop of the UMC Western Jurisdiction last year, in spite of official rules which ban LGBT ministers from serving openly.

Continue reading at: Methodists to consider expulsion of married lesbian bishop · PinkNews (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)

Marvel’s lesbian erasure from Black Panther film sparks fan outrage

Marvel has moved to quash speculation that two warriors in the upcoming film Black Panther will be in a lesbian relationship. The film, due to be released in February 2018, is about T’Challa, the superhero king and protector of African nation Wakanda, who featured in Captain America: Civil War.  Fans had been excited by the prospect of Okoye and Ayo, two of the titular character’s bodyguards, getting together as Ayo and fellow female warrior Aneka do in the comics.

Continue reading at: Marvel’s lesbian ‘erasure’ from Black Panther film sparks fan outrage · PinkNews (Source)

London’s highest ranking police officer comes out

London’s highest ranking police officer revealed she is in a same-sex relationship.  In February the queen appointed Cressida Dick to become the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London’s police force.  She is the first woman to hold the rank since it was created in 1829.  Now she has also become the first out LGBTI person to hold the rank.  Her partner Helen is also a police officer.

Continue reading at: London’s highest ranking police officer quietly comes out (Source)

Grand Canyon National Park’s first openly lesbian superintendent visits Boulder at Conference on World Affairs

The first openly lesbian superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, Chris Lehnertz, came to CU Boulder on Friday. She talked about the future of the National Park Service and her role in fixing ongoing sexual harassment issues in the organization.

Moderated by Lori Bergen, founding dean of CU’s College of Media, Communication and Information, Lehnertz’s talk, titled “An Insider’s Scoop on America’s National Parks,” was part of this year’s Conference on World Affairs at CU.During the event, Lehnertz talked about park management, outreach and diversity efforts. She spoke openly about a sexual harassment scandal between park employees that came to light shortly before she was hired. The ensuing investigation uncovered a pattern of sexual harassment going back 15 years. In the wake of that investigation, Lehnertz’s main goal as superintendent is “to build a respectful and inclusive workplace.”

Continue reading at: Grand Canyon National Park’s first openly lesbian superintendent visits Boulder at Conference on World Affairs (Source)

Challenging lesbophobia: A lesbian love story staged at National School of Drama India

The faculty members and students at NSD appreciated the actors for their performances. Talking about the bold scenes in the play, Neha Singh, one of the actors, said, “I can’t say we are fearless. Even now, before performing our play in small towns, we are sometimes afraid that people might not like the play as it is too bold. But we have never censored our play.” She added, “Lesbian love remains one of the taboos on stage. There have been lesbian characters in plays, but not as central characters. In the case of queer plays, there are more gay characters than lesbians.”

Continue reading at: A lesbian love story staged at National School of Drama (Source)

Encounter the LGBTI Community: Professional development that excludes lesbian voices

Encounter, an organization that provides, “professional development training in LGBTI issues and culture in Australia,” has announced it’s lineup of speakers for the May 29-30 Encounter Course in Melbourne.  According to the organizations website, this introductory course, “covers the ten most common myths surrounding the LGBTI community and sets the record straight by presenting the latest research and lived experience.”  The description goes on to say, “we look at the common issues in the LGBTI community, with a special emphasis on the ‘coming out’ journey'”

Unfortunately, this important professional development course will feature no lesbians, as according to their Facebook page, “we have two on our team, but both have had to pull out.”

Encounter message

(This comment has since been removed)

If this series is so, “essential for those working with LGBTI clients, employing LGBTI people or simply those wanting to gain a better understanding of the journey of a person they care for,” why were they unable to find a single lesbian on the east coast of Australia who could share her experience as a lesbian?

Without the “L” represented as the title proclaims, this organization is at the very least being disingenuous and at most, erasing lesbian lived experience and lesbian voice from the community it claims to represent.

After several people voiced concerns that there was no lesbian representation in their course, the Facebook page moderators removed all questions and comments related to this matter.

Source: Encounter the LGBTI Community | Professional development training in LGBTI issues and culture

This Powerful Instagram Chronicles Important Moments In Lesbian Herstory

Lesbian Herstory Project

Rakowski went on to talk about how lesbian history often tends to take a backseat to other identities along the queer spectrum when it comes to visibility and how history is remembered.“Women’s history is often not told or recorded or championed, lesbian history even less so,” she continued. “I think it’s valuable to learn from the past, learn what lesbians were experiencing and thinking in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s — there’s been so much progress is society but still so much oppression. Even if I don’t agree with lesbian views from the 1970s (for example) I still think it’s important we learn and read and respect their history and experiences.”

Continue reading at: This Powerful Instagram Chronicles Important Moments In Lesbian Herstory | The Huffington Post (Source)

The Amazon Trail: Questions from a lesbian high school student

What still needs to be achieved in the current movement?

“So much. We will never erase all of the hate and fear directed at gay people. Difference is too threatening to many non-gays, especially those who follow religions that demonize us. Being out is the essential basic step to achieving and preserving something like equality. Encouraging and supporting one another, as the Golden Crown Literary Society and lesbian publishers do, for example, are necessary. Legitimizing our right to exist through the legal system will protect us to some extent. Electing supportive non-gays and gays to local and national office is another tool that can protect us in the future. Fighting demagogues every step of the way is a must. We will continue building our culture until it’s so strong our would-be oppressors and executioners can’t begin to tear it down.”

Continue reading at: The Amazon Trail: Questions from a lesbian high school student | LGBT Weekly (Source)

Lesbian Feminists Challenge Latin America’s Political Discourse

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Thirty-something-year-old Yanileth Mejía sports an edgy bob hairdo, large dark sunglasses and provoking graphic T-shirts with lesbian feminist taglines like it’s her uniform. She knows her taboo lifestyle could lead to kidnapping, rape, torture or murder. It is a high price to pay but not uncommon in El Salvador, which has a reputation for one of the highest female murder rates in the world. The latest report from Insight Crime uses data from 2012 and shows El Salvador tops the list in Latin American femicide with a rate of 8.9 homicides per 100,000 women. Seven of the 10 countries with the highest femicide rates are in Latin America, and include Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

Continue reading at: Lesbian Feminists Challenge Latin America’s Political Discourse – Latino USA (Source)

Lesbian plaintiff in discrimination suit sticking to fight 

Kimberly Hively didn’t know whether to believe the good news from her lawyer that a federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the Civil Rights Act prohibited workplace discrimination against LGBT employees.

Continue reading at: Lesbian plaintiff in discrimination suit sticking to fight – CNN.com (Source)

A Catholic School Banned A Lesbian Couple From Prom And Their Suggested Alternative Has People Furious

In the face of the school’s abhorrent policy, Paula and Anjali are standing tall and proud

Source: A Catholic School Banned A Lesbian Couple From Prom And Their Suggested Alternative Has People Furious | GOOD

Transparent disrespect for dyke culture

Transparent disrespect for dyke culture
Guest post by Karen Thompson; cross-posted with Liberation Collective

Editor’s note: This post by Karen Thompson is in response to an episode of the television program Transparent, which disdainfully and contemptuously parodied the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and the women – mostly lesbians – who called it home for 40 years.

(1) One of the things about festival that is so fucking amazing is the sheer magnitude of female competence. The stages, the sound, the tents, the everything is put together with such care and consciousness and that everything — made out of spit and bandaids — can look like something so polished, so professional, so ON POINT. It’s not that we make nutloaf; it’s that we make nutloaf for THOUSANDS OF WOMEN over OPEN FIRES in all weather. For free.

So the general fucking HINKINESS of the look of the “Idlewild” shit pissed me off because it looked jacked up and like someone threw a camping party in someone’s backyard instead of the sheer magnitude and scale of ability that is demonstrated at fest the minute you walk in the gate. And that lack of attention to that sort of detail (when the slickness and smoothness of everything else on that show is never skimped on), once again ignored female competence and what we can do without males.

Which was one of central liberatory aspects of Festival for me.

(2) The sheer scale of the place. We were thousands. We were legion. This wasn’t a handful of whatevs. We are a city. We are a people. We are a culture.

And yes, I get it. TV. Budgets. There is only so much. But DAMN. Undermining our decades.

(3) The yelling “MAN ON THE LAND” which, as we all know, no one fucking does like a chain but as a beep beep of vehicles.

So once again, no one is fucking seeing the WHERE and WHY and HISTORY of why that had to be done. And no one is talking about the threat of men coming on the land with guns, or hanging barbie dolls in trees in Gaia, or any of the spray painting of dyke that we had to cover up. The leering at naked bodies. The reality of male violence that made that rapid alert system necessary.

(4) No kids? Really? Why would that be? I don’t know why that bothered me, but it did. It made the nudity seem sexualized instead of just that we have a place where we can be nude when we get hot or whatever. Just cause. Because we are safe to do so there.

(5) Safety. Ali said something like “this is so NICE.” and there was a weird moment of rape free something. But there was nothing that made it clear what it feels like to be in the woods and not worry about someone leaping from behind a tree, putting a knife to your neck, and raping you.

Yes, women rape. And they have at Fest. But women have not stranger raped using weapons or by kidnapping someone from their tent in the middle of the night. And that is a real talk moment about why Fest was important.

(6) Policy.

What bothered me about this is that the whole place works on intention. The whole place was trusting women to not be assholes. And we weren’t. For the most part. That you are expected to behave a certain way and trust and honor. And that is how we were able to do what we were supposed to do. And so the importance of that intention as a community ethic was lost.

(7) Fuck the Indigo Girls

Your moral code made it impossible for you to play at Fest again but was totally cool with you being in this crazy depiction of yourselves at this FARCE of a representation of Michigan?

Seriously, that along with Syd Mutschler’s breakdown about their playing at venues operated by racist, women hating scum and having no issues with THAT just…I don’t know. Just not okay.

(8) Also do you really think it wasn’t a CHOICE to not show, say, the WOMYN OF COLOR tent?! Because then we would have had to have a real talk about separate space for oppressed people and how Fest is one of the rare places that saw the battle against racism as a community value. As opposed to that weird scene where someone was appropriating Native American culture and mocking how we create our healing spaces.

AGAIN. I GET IT. THIS IS TV. NO ONE CARES. I GET IT.

But this was a lesbian who has made a show that has been deeply stewed and thought about and respectful of the experience of a group of people. She has ethically created space for trans women and men to tell their own stories, to be there, to be present, to be shown in their truths.

And yet, she gets to dyke culture and suddenly we turn into this flattened version of ourselves. If she was going to do it? Why not do it? Why make us the cartoons in a series that was all about detail and finesse?

I don’t think I need to tell you the answer to that.

I’m done. I’m just done. I have no more in me to be down with people in this community who have no respect for dyke culture. None. And I’m done with those in our community who don’t defend us against that flattening and that laying down to the people who support that sort of lesbophobia and caricature.

So yes, we know each other. We will always know each other. We are here and I, for one, will not stop speaking our truths.

Also, I do want to say there were a bunch of things that were awesome sauce. I will never say no to many different women’s bodies being shown in their glory. I will never say no to the fact that we show the world that being a gender non-conforming female doesn’t make you trans (the cameo by the bearded woman, Jennifer Miller). I will never say no to the fact that she showed diverse women as dykes. I will never say no to the REALITY of the fact that trans women come to festival and no one has laid a hand on them and that we can hold disagreement with respect (which, ironically, Maura was unable to do). Plus, a really fucking insightful and necessary insight in the circle around the fire (ALSO ON POINT!) which was that PAIN and PRIVILEGE are not the same thing and being in pain does not mean you weren’t privileged.


Please add your thoughts in the comments below. If you are interested in writing a guest post please email me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.

 

Lesbians in the News – 30 October 2015

Lesbians in the News 30 October 2015

Guyana loses Woman of Courage Zenita Temall Nicholson

Guyanese LGBT activist, Zenita Temall Nicholson died on October 26th. Temall Nicholson was honoured last year by the US Embassy in Georgetown as an International Woman of Courage. She was the Country Coordinator for Caribbean Vulnerable Communities/PANCAP Global Fund, and past Secretary on the SASOD Board of Trustees (Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Guyana).

On presentation of the Woman of Courage award in March 2014, Temall Nicholson was described as being “an energetic, effective and passionate advocate at both the national and international levels for the principle that both women’s rights and the rights of lesbian, gays, bi – sexual and transgender persons are human rights, deserving of equal attention and protection”.

Guyana remains the only country in South America where homosexuality remains illegal and is punishable by imprisonment, with additional laws criminalising gender non conforming dress, although men may cross dress or express their gender identity as long as it is not for “improper purposes”. Women may wear trousers but do not appear to be covered by the same ruling enabling cross dressing.

As reported in a 2012 report to the UN CEDAW Committee, Guyanese lesbians remain subjected to harassment and sexual threats, compulsory heterosexuality, compulsory femininity and/or gender conformity.

Zenita Temall Nicholson’s activism will be missed in a country which requires significant improvements to secure the safety and wellbeing of lesbians, and our thoughts are with her family.

 

Arts & Entertainment

  • Curve magazine will contain an in-depth story on lesbian erasing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in their January issue.
  • Listen to author Michael Helquist discuss his new book about Marie Equi; lesbian doctor, activist and anarchist.
  • Follow bloggers Wandering Wives, a UK lesbian couple that sold everything they owned to travel the world.
  • Copies of Blood and Visions: Reconciling with Being Female by Autotomous Womyn’s Press are now available at Green Woman Store. It includes writing by ten womyn who stopped their transition from female to male.
  • Listen to the recording of “The Sounds of MichFest 2015: a Radio Documentary of the 40th and Final Fest” on WORT. It can be found under “Access Hour” in the archives from October 26th.

Laws, Politics and Policies

Social and Health Issues

Crimes against Lesbians

  • A lesbian couple vacationing in Hawaii was attacked and arrested by a police officer that didn’t like their public displays of affection in a grocery store. Taylor Guerrero and Courtney Wilson spent three days in jail before charges were dropped. The Honolulu Police Department has launched an investigation into the incident. Wilson and Guerrero have filed a lawsuit against the officer for discrimination.
  • A Welsh lesbian is speaking out after her attackers received a slap on the wrist for verbally and physically attacking her in north Wales in July. 44-year old Jackie Hatton-Kesketh says the attack left her unable to continue working at her job and contributed to the breakup of her 12-year relationship.

Events

  • The leading scorer in the history of international soccer, Abby Wambach, announced her retirement on October 27th. Wambach finishes her amazing career as the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, only the second American to win the title since Mia Hamm (2011 & 2002).
  • Jamaica held its first Montego Bay Pride on October 25th and announced it was a complete success. The event included music, networking, a 10-minute Flash Stand in front of the Summit Police Station and a speech by leading Jamaican activist Yvonne McCalla-Sobers.

Lesbians in the News compiled by Liz and Lisa.

If you have any other stories, corrections or comments, please add them below or email them to liz@listening2lesbians.com.

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.

Lesbian allies – a reality check

After seeing yet another post about how to be an ally to anyone but women, let alone lesbians, I wondered – what would you say about being allies to lesbians?

Is this even the right way to approach the issue?

These are the collective thoughts from my wall and a public FB group – names removed to protect the innocent* but I’ve tried to keep women’s words….

Don’t see what you would say? Add your thoughts in the comments section or email me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.

Protecting lesbians

Protecting lesbians – how do we do it?

How to be an ally to Lesbians:

PRIORITISING

  • Stop centring men over women.
  • Stop censoring us when we talk, and particularly do not censor us when we talk about things like the contents of this post.
  • Some of us ARE Separatists and put other Lesbians and born female women first and foremost in EVERY aspect in our lives..including spiritually. Stop considering that a bad thing or belittling it and us.
  • Don’t only talk about us when we’re dead or celebrities… *snort* yeah, us too kthx.

LOOKS

  • Don’t measure us against media-fuelled, patriarchal (heteronormative) beauty standards. the media (and capitalism) is BS – we all know that.
  • Don’t judge a lesbian by how butch she looks. Don’t say shit like “you’re so pretty though!” to a more feminine looking lesbian. Fuck off with judging by appearances ever, okay?
  • Do NOT put down Butches and accuse us of being “wanna be men” or on the way station to transitioning. Many of us are fierce FEMALE PROUD Butch DykeAmazons and been in the trenches fighting FOR Dykes and womyn for DECADES!!
  • Women – support your gender non-conforming sisters whether you are lesbian or not.

SEX

  • The damn obsession with men and their penises – don’t ask lesbians if they’ve been with a man, or tell them they haven’t found the right man or offer to fuck them straight. Just fucking don’t.
  • Don’t assume we have been with a man. Don’t assume we haven’t. Just don’t assume.
  • Preaching to us about who we should be obligated to sleep with is fucking rapey…
  • Don’t tell us we are bigots for being lesbian, for attraction only to other women. It’s bloody homophobic. And don’t apologise to or soothe men who are upset when we say this.
  • Don’t accuse lesbians of being “shallow” for not wanting to sleep with someone who has a dick.
  • In fact, Don’t. Try. To. Invade. Our. Spaces. Or. Our. Bodies. Ever.
  • Don’t tell us we are going to hell. Our spiritual lives are our own and we have our metaphysical shit in order.
  • If you’re a straight man, don’t act like we’re trying to steal your gf/wife.
  • And don’t EVER assume that what you see in “lesbian” porn bears any relation to most actual lesbians, or that it was created for us.

WHY WE ARE LESBIAN

  • Don’t tell us we’re pretty enough to get a man if we tried. We are not with women because we can’t “get a man”. We don’t WANT a man.
  • Don’t assume we’re lesbians because someone hurt us. In other words, don’t assume our lesbianism is a symptom of trauma or that it is a pathology in itself.
  • Don’t assume being lesbian is a phase. But DO remember that we were socialised to heterosexuality so it can take time to work free of that.
  • Don’t assume being a ‘political’ lesbian means asexuality or het-women-trying-to-be-‘gay’ (sic).
  • Don’t assume we were born this way. Don’t assume we weren’t. We’re lesbian now and that’s what matters.
  • Don’t rely on the born this way script. Compulsory heterosexuality is a fucking thing. Look it up.

REALITY AND NAMING

  • Remember that biological sex actually fucking means something and is a reality that women, even lesbians!, cannot fucking escape.
  • Don’t tell a woman she isn’t ‘lesbian enough’ or buy into the ‘gold-star lesbian’ type thinking. pls and thx.
  • Don’t use words to describe lesbians as insults. Dykes are awesome, thank you very much…
  • Stop harassing mental health professionals who attempt to help women with internalised lesbophobia and misogyny.
  • Do not assume we wish to be called “queer”, in fact do not argue with us when we refuse to be called queer or gay. These are male-centred concepts that render us invisible, and many of us reject them, even if your lesbian BFF thinks they’re ok.
  • Don’t call men lesbians.
  • Particularly, don’t think that if lesbian porn turns you on that you, as a male bodied person, are either a lesbian or a woman! (This suggestion came with sources to show it wasn’t a paranoid “fantasy”.)
  • Don’t think that disagreement about who is and isn’t lesbian is transphobia. Lesbians have a right to self determination and to resist appropriation.
  • On that note…

APPROPRIATION – JUST DON’T!

STEREOTYPES

  • Stop considering us the scary ugly feminists that you distance yourself from. Has anything really changed since the days of the lavender menace?
  • Do not ever insinuate that we want to be men or need to transition. Nope. No way.
  • Don’t say stupid shit like “who is the man/woman in the relationship?”
  • Do not put down those of us who are primarily Butch on Butch or “what a waste of a good Butch.” Lesbian sexuality is way more diverse than Butch/Femme or two lipstick types together.
  • In fact, don’t rely on stereotypes or sex roles to understand us. We’re actual individuals. There might be common culture but we are wildly diverse. Don’t reduce us to a 2 dimensional cartoon.
  • If we somehow look to you like we fit a stereotype, don’t assume our choices have anything to do with those stereotypes. We aren’t cartoons, we’re real people.
  • Don’t portray us as weak, sad, terminally ill, pathetic, two-dimensional, perpetual victims and lost. We are strong wonderful women.
  •  Don’t expect our relationships to be just like het relationships just with a strap on.
  • We are not failed attempts at straight people.
  • Don’t assume you know anything about lesbians because you watch OITNB.
  • Don’t assume I know that other lesbian you met one time… you know, the one with the long brown hair? I think her name’s Tracy or Sarah or something. You even kind of look like her, isn’t that weird?

DON’T FUCK WITH US

  • If you’re not a lesbian – and you’re sure about that – don’t flirt with us just because you think it will be some harmless fun.
  • Don’t assume visible/butch lesbians exist to affirm your desirability. Don’t assume we’re perpetually DTF.

STOP HARASSMENT

  • Upon being informed that a lesbian is with her partner, DO NOT ask if you can watch (hey… it’s happened more than once, ok?). Don’t joke about that either. It’s not funny; it’s creepy.
  • When a lesbian says “no” that doesn’t give you the go ahead to harass her for not sexing herself to entitled pricks.
  • When you see lesbians being abused, intimidated or  sexually harassed, don’t look away. Get involved and stick up for us, particularly young lesbians.

POLITICAL CHANGE

LESBIANS AS A DERAIL

  • Don’t use lesbians as your token “but women rape too!” in response to women talking about rape and other forms of male sexual violence.

WHAT I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO SAY

These things happen around the world, including in YOUR country…

TL:DNR SUMMARY

Don’t prioritise and centre men. Most of this flows from systemic male dominance, and the violence and subjugation used to reinforce it…

Every time I think the list is complete enough, another suggestion comes in. I’m aware this is far from comprehensive, which says a lot about how lesbians are regarded and treated around the world.

………..

So the pointers from lesbians around the world on how to be an ally really made me wonder…..

WHAT DOES BEING AN ALLY EVEN MEAN?

Is this concept even worth using? What does being an ally mean to you?

Articles like the one that triggered this one seem to be about performance of socially required (and superficial/unquestioning) support more than any genuine commitment or action that demonstrates actual solidarity.  The articles seem to be about visible ways to look like you are guilty about your privilege and identify as supportive, rather than outlining really practical ways to help change the world behind the scenes.

Does this help any group or is this kind of two dimensional tokenism merely about paying lip service rather than demonstrating solidarity and working to make the world better for those who are marginalised?

There’s certainly an expectation that women demonstrate allyship by quashing their questions, indulging in self flagellation – classic female socialisation. Femsoc tells us to genuflect before the needs of others, and ignore that voice telling us that we are betraying our own needs.

Genuine solidarity does not require this. Genuine solidarity should be based on analysis that can be challenged and debated. Genuine solidarity does not ask you to harm yourself.

This is all of a piece with identity politics which prioritises identification and performance over reality. Identifying as an ally replaces being an ally. Once you have identified as an ally to whichever group, irrespective of your actual actions, you can dispense with the culturally created guilt (usually of women), congratulate yourself on a job well done with honour satisfied and carry on being self righteous about those not liberal enough to be allies. Despite everyone paying lip service to supporting the marginalised group, nothing actually changes.

And this squanders the good intentions of many people, who may well read the articles and want to be supportive. It also provides a get out of jail free card to those who don’t much care but want to be seen to do the right thing…

Either way, perhaps the concept is too shallow to be of any use.

……….

LISTEN TO LESBIAN VOICES

Regardless of the validity of the “ally” concept, the list of what not to do to lesbians is pretty clear. Each one of those points was written based on personal experience of being abused, exploited and erased, on the basis of being lesbian.

If you want to take anything to heart, listen to what lesbians have said here and don’t re/name us, don’t redefine us out of existence. Don’t harass, belittle, or dismiss us. Don’t appropriate us. Support and encourage us to focus on each other, on women, as women. And help us fight to change the structures that enable and benefit from our eradication.

If you have anything to add to this, please share your thoughts in the comments below or email them to me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.


* I tried to keep original wording but names were removed. If you would like credit for your comment, please let me know and I will add your name in. 🙂

Lesbians in the News 11/04/2015

Lesbians in the news

05/04/2015 – 011/04/2015

Fight Homophobia–Help a Lesbian

Mary Kristene Chapa and Mollie Olgin (Image source: Curve Magazine)

Mary Kristene Chapa and Mollie Olgin (Image source: Curve Magazine)

In an example of an appalling hate crime in 2012, two two young lesbians went on a date but were viciously attacked. Mollie Olgin was killed and Mary Kristene Chapa was left for dead.

Their attacker was arrested in 2014 but was not charged with a hate crime, despite sufficient evidence to justify it.

Despite the horror of the crime, Mary Kristene Chapa’s medical fund has only raised $12,882, compared to the over $800,000 raised for Memories Pizza, the pizzeria that declined to cater same sex weddings.

Horrific anti lesbian crime occur routinely and they are not reported. When they are, this is the level of interest they garner.

This is lesbophobia and silencing writ large.

Please read more about Mollie and Mary in Victoria A Brownworth’s piece and please donate to help Mary Kristene Chapa with her medical expenses.


Violent Crimes against Lesbians:

Conversion therapy and social homophobia:

  • The Obama administration has called for an end to conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and transgender children. Conversion therapy for lesbians and gay men has a dark history from elimination of “inversion” to ongoing Christian conversion practices. These practices were and are about enforcing gender conformity and discouraging gender non conformity through the linking of sex and required behaviours and attributes (sex stereotypes), and are primarily aimed at eliminating homosexuality. A concern about any concrete bans on all forms of therapy is that it could inadvertently ban the kind of counselling that children diagnosed as transgender may need given that 75-80% of transgender children go on to be not transgender as adults but predominantly lesbian and gay. These children, in particular, need access to supports that validate gender non conformity and homosexuality in the absence of any broad media representation or social acceptance.

Laws, Politics and Policies:

Representation:

  • Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, Canada and first lesbian Premier, says being lesbian makes her feel more responsible: “It is part of who I am and it is important for me to be clear that I have a responsibility because of who I am . . . to make our society safer and more inclusive”.
  • Two organisations, NCLR and the National LGBTQ Task Force have removed their names from the Equality Michigan petition calling on the Michfest to include transwomen, without having changed their opinion on inclusion. To a non-American the choice of a single (less than) week-long woman’s music event as the symbol of well being for transwoman seems odd in the context of employment discrimination and abuse.
  • Photographic Series “Happy Lesbian Couples” shows, well, happy lesbian couples. Whether you believe this is an argument for marriage equality or not, positive humanising representation in itself is important.
  • Jaanese celebrity Ayaka Ichinose and her partner hope to raise awareness through publicity following their wedding ceremony, despite the effect on her career.
  •  Mad, bad or dead: why do we have the Psycho Killer Lesbian plot back again?  “The pathology linked to the lesbian is actually a displacement of the feared pathology of patriarchal culture… The very challenge to order contained in representations of lesbians is restrained by depictions that, in their evocations of nonsense or pathology, disenfranchise the out-of-the-law as the outlaw. This is why lesbians are often figured as murderers and vice-versa. The murderous lesbian characters in Paul Verhoeven’s BASIC INSTINCT (1992), as well as the association of lesbians with vampires…highlight fears that lesbians threaten the death of patriarchy.” Are male supremacy insecurities at the heart of this familiar trope mixing fear and fetish?
  • Love it or hate it – do we need another (better) L word? Are we better served by individual characters in mainstream television or entire shows about us? Perhaps we need both, and to ensure that they are more broadly representative of our diversity than the narrow range of representation we have seen before? Do we know what good representation looks like?
  • On a really trivial front, LGBT emoji have come to iOS but what do they look like? We have identical blondes in pink dresses and women in bunny ears doing synchronised dancing…
  • On a more serious note, religious organisations have shifted their positions as a Baptist college has invited married, lesbian bishop to serve as worship leader and a rabbinical group gets first-ever lesbian president. Does this represent progress, albeit slow, in lesbian acceptance in religious circles and what could the broader ramifications of it be?

Social and Health Issues:

***If I have missed an important news story, please either post a link in the comments section here or email it to me at liz@listening2lesbians.com.