Up until the new millennium, we were called the ‘LGB,’ and having short hair was so common, it almost felt like a prerequisite—That and one of those rainbow freedom-ring necklaces. A lot has changed since then.
Lesbian culture is under siege, with only a few lesbian bars left in the United States—Nearly every mainstay of lesbian culture has vanished. Lesbians were told their fears and concerns were irrational—But just look around. Our once vibrant cities are now rubble and dust.
"Spaces and events that once billed themselves as by and for lesbians have 'changed their names and focus to avoid controversy and be more inclusive.'"—BuzzFeed
As of late, under male-dominated rainbow-rulership, lesbians have faced an onslaught of homophobia. And more recently, lesbians and gay men alike, have been hit over the head with homophobic rhetoric from within the community.
This summer, gay men got a taste of the phobia-pie. Heart-to-hearts finally started to happen—And we needed them to listen. Because it’s 2017, and men still have to say something first before anyone will take it seriously.
A year ago Autostraddle wrote—“We’re often on the brink of not existing anymore.” The Daily Beast points to media misrepresentation of lesbians—“...a group that still feels ‘unwelcome and invisible’ in 2016.”
Given the campaign of psychological warfare that has been waged upon lesbians, it’s amazing any of us are still standing. ‘Butch’ women have forever been accused of wanting to be men, and a ‘femme’ woman’s attraction to a so-called ‘masculine’ women must mean they’re straight.
And misconceptions have only gotten worse as male-dominated media continues to portray a sexist and rigid idea of womanhood—TV continually tries to recreate lesbians into something more palatable to the masses—A tired male-fantasy. A bruised male-ego.
Within the les-community there’s a butch/femme scale—always an interesting topic of discussion.
“..The L Word ...represented butchness as “the B word” that dare not speak its name. Despite the fact that the character of Shane drew heavily on the history of butch sexiness, she never could claim that history, name it, or own it.”—AfterEllen
Have they finally succeeded in brainwashing the next generation into believing that the ‘androgynous’ component of womanhood is so threatening, so disgusting, that they should just disappear? And when they disappear where exactly are they supposed to go?
“When a butch character was introduced [on LWord]...they quickly transitioned to trans leaving the category of butch stranded like a missing link, like a bad memory to be expunged from queer representation.”—AfterEllen
With the L Word scheduled for a reboot, the media has already begun praising the ‘no butch’ policy by spinning the misrepresentation of lesbians as Femme Visibility.” But the sentiment at the time, was that the groundbreaking show “not only dismissed the possibility of butch identity, it ridiculed it.” And that in denying lesbian masculinity they denied “a major part of what has made lesbian cultures so fascinating...for hundreds of years.”
So—Can we please get it right this time? Women can be the epitome of ‘feminine’ beauty while wrapped in a shirt and tie. *no smoky eye-shadow required. Equating ‘womanhood’ with ‘femininity’ is about as sexist as it gets. And equating ‘femininity’ with a particular style is damaging to womanhood.
“Our current social order...with or without gay marriage...is the one that rendered the butch as the anachronistic, useless, dowdy misfit in the first place.”—AfterEllen
What the mainstream still can’t seem to grasp: The style and confidence of a Shane may catch the eye, but it’s biology that drives a lesbian. It’s a merciless same-sex magnetic pull, of scent, taste, sound and female pheromones. It’s animal. It’s criminal. It’s unapologetic. It’s innate and unstoppable.
The desire is in the unwrapping—the appetite is for what female heaven awaits beneath. It’s an exclusive club by nature—and we wouldn’t let them in—so they huffed and they puffed and they blew our houses down.
Gay men’s spaces still thrive, but the homophobic shift has begun to target them as well. In June, two Boston Pride Parades were threatened with a boycott after gay men called out the homophobic comments of LGBT journalist, Juno Dawson who said—“I think there are a lot of gay men out there who are gay men as a consolation prize because they couldn’t be women.” Gay men can call out homophobia and they did, but lesbians don’t have that liberty.
“A binary label like ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ starts to feel somewhat stale and stodgy...is it closed-minded—or worse, harmful and exclusionary—if you identify with a label that implies you’re only attracted to one?”—BuzzFeed
A whole generation is being taught that being gay or lesbian is potentially “closed-minded” and “harmful.” But has anyone stopped to think about the harm this homophobic rhetoric is doing to young gay and lesbian people?
“The rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for LGB youth...”—The Trevor Project
When you first discover that mainstream feminist media LGBTQ platforms are teaching the next generation that homosexuality is no more than a whimsical “preference” that can be “unlearned”, it kinda feels like you’ve stepped into an Orwellian novel.
“..if you were to say that you’re only attracted to people with vaginas or people with penises, it really feels like you’re reducing people just to their genitals... Gay ‘conversion therapy’ has been proven not to work. But you can unlearn your own prejudices; it just takes time and conscious effort.”—Everyday Feminism
When did same-sex “preferences” become a “prejudice” that can be fixed?
“If you met someone who was extremely attractive, had a great personality, but didn’t have the genitals that you wanted, you might be surprised to find that it isn’t a dealbreaker.”—Everyday Feminism
(Said every parent in denial ever)
“Some lesbians...are still all too eager to write off [people] because of "genital preferences," which means they have incredibly reductive ideas..."—BuzzFeed
This Orwellian novel comes with a hyper-vigilant Thought Police. Demeaning words and acronyms are sanctioned through media use, even when they’re associated with silencing the female voice, using threats of violence, rape and murder. Those who express different views, risk harassment, humiliation, expulsion and job loss through the ‘no platform movement.’ The very existence of entire groups of people within the LGBTQ community are being completely denied. “I don’t think it does anyone any favors to act as if we don’t exist...”—LGBTQ blogger, Carey Callahan.
On Monday, LGBT reporter, Gretchen Hammond, released a statement to the Chicago Dyke March organizers—“You attacked, humiliated and robbed me of a job.” Her crime:Breaking the story of the women who were thrown out of the event by the Dyke March organizers, for carrying a Jewish rainbow flag. Yet no one reported that lesbians—in general—were told not to come unless they shared the organizers’ personal beliefs: “not all dykes are women” and “plenty of lesbians like d*ck”. They more specifically targeted butch lesbians on the Chigago Dyke March media page, and defended the degrading posts as attempts to uplift “femmes frustration with masc-of-center people” and their “internalized oppression.”
Lesbian bloggers, with enormous youth followings, are often bullied into pandering and apologizing for posts on biological same-sex attraction—which is not something lesbians can somehow fix. Several bloggers are suddenly speaking out on being thought-policed. On Tuesday LGBTQ advocate Lacy Green wrote—“Bullying lesbians, censoring papers, politicizing research...This movement is unrecognizable to me right now.”
“..lesbians from their 20s into their 70s...worry that inclusion often just ends up meaning that men end up in charge”—Curve Magazine
At campus LGBTQ meetings lesbians are told they can’t use the word “vagina"—To use “front hole” instead. There’s a growing list of things we’re not supposed to say anymore. The decisions are made without discussion or approval. It’s exclusion in the name of inclusion.
On the topic of ‘front holes’ and other demands, Cosmopolitan wrote “..why is it that it's women's institutions that seem to be the only ones facing these issues, and what does it say that men aren't being asked to be as accommodating or open?”
From the outside LGBTQ appears unified, but don’t be distracted by all the pretty colors waving in the air. Our letters are tagged, as though we’ve unanimously signed off in agreement, but more and more, we’re finding, our beliefs and ideologies don’t always align.
“If intimacy with someone who has a penis is triggering for [lesbians]...Take your time to heal and work through your trauma at your own pace.”—Everyday Feminism
Through all this upheaval, lesbians are somehow still standing—We are, after all, resilient warriors. And we won’t go down, on anything other than clit, without a fight. We can still say that, right?
Julia Diana Robertson—author and journalist— www.juliadianarobertson.com
*edited to add quote/links