Lesbian Visibility Week

Lesbian Visibility Day has now been Recognized as a Full Week
Linda Riley, who expanded the celebration to the full week
Linda Riley, who expanded the celebration to the full week

The whole week of April 22nd to April 28th is recognized this year as Lesbian Visibility Week. This is a time to commemorate and celebrate people who identify as a lesbian. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the purpose of this annual celebration, as well as understand the identity itself.

What Does it Mean to be a Lesbian?
The original definition described the label as women who are romantically and sexually attracted to women. However, as time has progressed, the definition has begun to change to be more inclusive of transgender and non-binary people. While not technically official, many within the community have decided on the changes as the goal for these celebrations and movements is to be inclusive of everybody.

Graphic promoting the original Lesbian Visibility Day date (LGBTIQ+ Health Australia)

What is the Purpose of This Week of Recognition?
In a world where people who identify in the LGBTQ+ community are not accepted worldwide, it is crucial for tolerant places to recognize and inform the public about these topics. Even when LGBTQ+ identities are addressed, there tends to be a larger focus on men compared to women. In a 2018 Pride Matters survey conducted by Pride In London it “…has shown that gay women are almost twice as unlikely to be out in the workplace as gay male colleagues.” This means that lesbian women are less likely to openly identify as themselves compared to gay men. Some websites describe that the purpose of the week is to prevent erasure of the identity, and significant people who identified with the label. Whether they identified with it or fought to protect those with the label.

How did Lesbian Visibility Week Start?
Linda Riley, the publisher of Diva magazine, was the person behind extending Lesbian Visibility Day to Lesbian Visibility Week. There are no clear origins as to when the celebration was started. Riley however, founded the week because as an LGBTQ+ rights advocate, she believed it would provide more time to acknowledge and appreciate the marginalized group. She also desired to reinstate the fact that the LGBTQ+ community is inclusive of everyone; especially since within the community itself there are some negative stigmas associated with lesbians.

3 Common Misconceptions & Myths
All lesbians are athletic or superior athletes
This is one of the most common stereotypes associated with homosexual women. Sports are traditionally seen as a masculine topic, so when a woman has a “non-traditional sexuality”, she is perceived as manly. This just blatantly isn’t true as every individual has their own hobbies, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s why we are called individuals, we are all unique.

All lesbians are man-haters
If a person doesn’t feel attracted to another, the brain won’t default to make them feel unbridled hatred towards that person. They simply do not desire that person. In the same way that heterosexual women don’t hate other women. Homosexual women don’t hate men, they just aren’t captivated by them. There’s a big difference between not being interested in someone for their gender, and hating someone because of their gender.

All lesbians are either “butch” or “femme”
This connects back to the first misconception of trying to fit people into a mold. The terms “butch” and “femme” refer to a person who acts traditionally masculine or feminine respectively. It’s important to reiterate that a person’s interests or choices to present themselves, don’t determine any other aspects of their character. One person can like masculine hobbies but dress more feminine. The opposite could be true, or it could be a combination of both (which is more common than you may think).

How can I Celebrate and Support This Week?

Consume Media With Representations
There are a plethora of books, movies, video games, and TV shows that feature lesbian characters and relationships. Viewing and sharing these pieces of media helps you and others learn more about this identity.

Learn the history of the LGBTQ Rights Movement
While this week might focus on the first letter of the acronym, it is just as important to learn about the entire movement as a whole to truly be informed.

Attend Public Events
Keep your eyes and ears open for any local public events. Anyone and everyone is invited and encouraged to join the celebration and spread awareness.

Donate/Buy Merchandise from LGBTQ+ Organizations/Businesses
Show some support to small businesses! There’s always something they have to offer that you wouldn’t find in a retail store. Plus some shops donate their profits to charity organizations. Or you can donate money to an organization yourself. Within South Jersey, we have the Atlantic County Queer Alliance, which is a great place to get started!

Spread The Word
On any social media platform, make or retweet posts relating to this week. Every post no matter the size of the following you have, makes a difference!

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