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Lesbian Visibility Week: What is it, and what does it mean?

Provided you’ve not been hiding in a hole over the last four days (or potentially prior) when it comes to social media, you will have probably noticed a number of posts commemorating Lesbian Visibility Week. The name may have given you pause – I know it did for me, the first time I heard it. Lesbian Visibility Week? Aren’t lesbians visible in everyday life? To which I answer: yes, as people we are… but unfortunately, our identities very much are not.

Here's why.

We have Lesbian Visibility Week because back in 1990, a group of lesbians were frustrated that the societal discourse around the LGBTQ+ community mostly focused on gay men. (Understandable, given that it was around the time of the AIDS crisis, pushing gay men into the front of people’s minds.) They were so frustrated that they began to act, calling for discussions, workshops and other events to bring attention to the fact that the LGBTQ+ community did not just contain the G. Over time, Lesbian Visibility Week began to be recognised, with a Lesbian Visibility Day on April 26th every year. The way I see it, it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my identity, but I know that the true meaning lies much deeper.

After all, why Visibility? Why not Recognition, or Celebration, or even just International Day of Lesbianism?

It’s not because we’re invisible, as connotated by the silly little magnifying glasses I’ve used to adorn the cover of this blog post. As humans, we are absolutely visible. Lesbian Visibility Day doesn’t mean that we suddenly don neon-bright Lycra and run through the streets in an elephantine manner shouting “Notice us, notice us!” – although that would be a wonderful image, and one that I may store up to use in a future book. Rather, it’s something a bit quieter than that. A nod to the identity that runs through our beings like the lettering through a stick of seaside rock. Because for so many of us, that part of us has to be invisible in daily life.

One day – I tell myself this because I have to believe it – the world will be different. Humans of all varieties, all sexualities, all genders, will be able to coexist happily. And in some places that does happen: lesbianism is very visible, as with all the letters of the LGBTQ+ community, because there is no need to hide it. For them, Lesbian Visibility Week is much more of a celebration. But that’s only one facet of it.

As far as I can tell, Lesbian Visibility Week is also there for those who – for whatever reason – have to hide it. And the same with International Asexuality Day (April 6th), Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31st), and every other day or week that recognises one of our sexualities or identities over the year. A quiet acknowledgement of yes, we see you. At whatever stage of the journey you’re in towards self-acceptance and living as your true self, we see you. Which – you never know – might make or break someone. It’s one of the many reasons I write LGBTQ+ fiction, covering as many of the letters as I can (like L, B and A in The Summer We’ve Had, and the L and T in Love You However). If I can do a similar sort of thing, to send a frisson of encouragement or acknowledgement to someone who may be having to hide, then that’s enough for me. And it’s for this reason that Lesbian Visibility Week strikes a chord in me.

When it comes to wider society, of course, that’s another story. Then it really is a case of truly signposting lesbianism: normalising it, exploring it, highlighting it as something to be celebrated rather than stigmatised as it was for so long (and still can be). And this is entirely separate from Pride month, which to me is more for us. For the community itself. Although that’s just my take on it.

All of this is just my take on it. The opinions of a half-closeted, half-out lesbian in her early twenties who writes books. But that’s what I run my blog for! To get out these ramblings, and to share the (often much more comprehensive) ramblings of fellow LGBTQ+ people, from S-Jay Hart to Ami Spencer to Merlina Garance and more. Because we all deserve to have our voices heard, our identities recognised, and to be generally accepted.

And, y’know, be visible.

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