Let’s Go Lesbians! (Lesbian Visibility Week 2023)

A very happy Lesbian Visibility week to all that celebrate! Lesbian Visibility Week takes place on the last week in April and is (according to the official webpage) a week dedicated to celebrating lesbians, whilst still showing solidarity to all LGBTQ+ and non-binary people – a sentiment I wholeheartedly share. Lesbian Visibility Week is the only National Campaign that is targeted at Queer Women, and I for one am thrilled to be taking part in the celebration this year.

A little history…

Lesbian Visibility Week has what you might call a stop-and-start history, first recorded in the early-1990s, Lesbian Visibility Week began as an annual celebration in the month of July, by Hollywood’s Lesbian community and LA’s Gay and Lesbian Centre, it was developed to combat the lack of coverage on Lesbians in mainstream media and culture, compared to their queer male counterparts. The weekly celebration lasted only 3 years but included film screenings, panel discussions, sexual education talks, marches and dog shows (weird but incredible).

In 2008, the celebration was reinvigorated with Lesbian Visibility Day, which appears to have been held on the 26th of April each year, from then until 2020. However, after many in the community felt that a singular day wasn’t enough, Lesbian Visibility Week was born again in 2020. Spearheaded by Linda Riley, the publisher of DIVA Magazine and the entire DIVA team, the new and improved Lesbian Visibility Week was launched, with fabulous activities such as film screenings, pub quizzes, panels and live podcast recordings all taking place virtually. Lesbian Visibility Week focuses on fully celebrating Lesbians – understanding the history of their influence in Pride and LGBTQ+ rights, dissecting the struggles many of them still encounter today (especially when taking into account intersections of race, class, disability and gender), and embracing every facet of the Lesbian identity, in a way that is inclusive and accepting of all women. As the CEO of Stonewall said, it is about creating a bit more space for the generation after you, being a bit more inclusive, a bit prouder, a bit louder. That is all we can do.

Following a successful programme in 2020, 2021 and 2022, Lesbian Visibility Week is now in its fourth year, and it is bigger and better than ever before. For the full programme of events for Lesbian Visibility Week 2023, check out the website or the Eventbrite tag.

What it means to me…

I am going to be totally honest, I struggle with the word Lesbian. I first came out almost 6 years ago (and again and again many times since then), and I have never used the word Lesbian to describe myself. Other people have (friends, parents etc.) and I have felt an affinity with the label and what it entails, but still, there is something sticky about it for me. I know this is rooted in internalised homophobia and the negative connotations that I associate with that label. Weirdly for me, Queer doesn’t have the same connotations and so I feel more comfortable using it, which is a clear sign of the generation I grew up in and how the language around queerness has evolved.

Despite these hesitations, I am trying to embrace the label. Whilst I still prefer the term queer, I am happy for other people to identify me as a Lesbian, and use that language if they wish. It is not a dirty word, it is not bad, and in fact, it means something that has completely revolutionised my life and made me feel comfortable in my own skin (romantically loving and being loved by women). Internalised homophobia is something that all queer people struggle with, I think the important thing is to identify it and try to challenge it, which is what I am doing. And what better time than Lesbian Visibility Week?!

It is a joy to live in an environment where I can be unapologetically myself, and celebrate who I love openly and loudly. This week is a celebration of all those like me, and a stand of solidarity with those who cannot celebrate themselves publicly in the same way, for fear of ostracisation, persecution or violence.

What can you do on Lesbian Visibility Week?

  • Advocate at work – A lot of companies now have EDI Committees or LGBTQ+ Groups that you can join, have a look into what your company offers, and if they don’t have one why don’t you consider starting your own? Acceptance and celebration in your workplace can be a meaningful experience for queer people, especially as it is the place and the people you spend most of your time with during the working week!
  • Engage with Queer content – There are so many podcasts, TV Shows, Films and Documentaries that you can engage with that feature positive representations of Lesbians. Some of my faves include; Dickinson, A League of Their Own, History is Gay Podcast and the documentary Feminists, What were they thinking?
  • Go to events The Official Lesbian Visibility Week has a whole host of events on offer, as does the Eventbrite page I linked above. Why not attend a panel discussion or a film screening, or even the week’s closing party at PianoWorks with your pals? Endless options to support the community and have fun.
  • CELEBRATE YOURSELF – If you identify as a Lesbian just know that this week, like other pride events or international days or celebrations, is here so that you can take up the space you deserve. Use it as an excuse to treat yourself, go out with your friends, or dive more into the queer culture that you enjoy. Whatever makes you feel happy and fulfilled. And if you don’t identify that way? Raise up the people you know that do. Engage with their community, learn something, be respectful and have fun.

Once again, Happy Lesbian Visibility Week Everyone, thanks to all the Lesbians who have paved the way before me, and all the ones to come! ❤

artwork by @sophiekathleenn on instagram

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