Lesbian Visibility Week, April 24th – April 30th, 2023

Towards the end of every April, the world celebrates and brings visibility to the lesbian community. Lesbian Visibility Week is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the struggles of this often overlooked community.

This visibility week originated in 1990. However, in 2020, the publisher of Diva magazine began a new visibility week. A group of activists working with ILGA created Lesbian Visibility Day in 2008. Both fall around the same time in April.

Many LGBTQ+ issues focused in particular on gay men. Therefore, we needed to include an annual week acknowledging the lesbian community and their struggles. For instance, research found that queer women are almost twice as likely as gay men to be in the closet at their workplace.

Recognition of the Lesbian Community

One of the main issues facing this community is erasure and lack of recognition. In a patriarchal society oriented towards men, queer female couples are not seen as valid. For a long time, the lesbian movement also did not recognise Black lesbians and trans women. Nevertheless, we have seen some progress in this regard.

Lesbians represent the potential to live your life without needing men’s validation. It is also an act of rebellion to gender roles. We should celebrate lesbians. Instead, because they pose a threat to the patriarchal status quo, their existence and relationships are deemed as less than. Queer female and lesbian relationships do not receive the same recognition as gay male relationships do.

Not only does society not treat queer women’s relationships as real, but it also erases what lesbians did for the wider LGBTQ+ community throughout history. During the HIV and AIDS epidemic, lesbian women were fighting alongside gay men. They received misogynistic backlash from some gay men who believed this movement should solely focus on them.

Nevertheless, lesbians fought tirelessly to take care, heal and support gay men living with HIV. During a time where society stigmatised HIV, making so many scared of being physically close to people with HIV, lesbians stood up for queer men.

Italy’s Prime Minister stops councils from registering children of same-sex parents

Lesbians continue to face homophobia to this day. Recently, Italy’s far-right prime minister Giorgia Meloni has demanded that councils in Milan stop registering children of same-sex parents. Italy has no legal protections for same-sex couples. Meloni even went as far as to compare surrogacy to ‘slavery’. Proving that Italy has a long way to go regarding LGBTQ+ rights as well as acknowledging issues of race within the country.

On a more positive note, this year’s Academy Awards saw the first ever film with an openly queer female protagonist win Best Picture. Everything Everywhere All at Once tells the story of a mother and daughter dealing with intergenerational trauma through a multiverse. At its core, the film centres on the relationship between a queer daughter and her mother who is initially unwilling to recognise her child’s queer relationship.

This beautifully directed story foregrounds a lesbian storyline with compassion and empathy. If you haven’t yet, make sure to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once. I promise you; the film will take you on an absurd yet meaningful journey.

Defining LGBTQ+ terms

Lately on social media, there has been a discussion around the definition of LGBTQ+ terms. Being a lesbian used to be defined as a woman loving and being sexually attracted to another woman. However, as we become more trans inclusive, many have adopted a different definition.

Being a lesbian can include non-binary people loving women and other genders. Some trans men may also define themselves as lesbians. This does not negate the fact that they are men. There is no one way to describe the term lesbian.

It is important to remember that all these LGBTQ+ terms exist to guide queer and trans folk when identifying themselves. However, they are not meant to exclude and invalidate other people’s experiences.

Lesbians have made unique contributions to culture and politics that deserve more recognition. This Lesbian Visibility Week, we encourage you to learn more about queer feminism, and to fight for the equal treatment of all couples everywhere.