Category Archives: Community Agenda

The Gay Agenda is Proud: Rhianna

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Hi Cilla, my name’s Rhianna, I’m 25 and I’m originally from Ely but I live in Glasgow

Why did you get involved in the Gay Agenda?

I am very opinionated. I think we need more outlets to discuss issues for queer women in the UK

What do you write about?

Queer issues, trans* issues and books!

Photo by John: http://bit.ly/17ByjOy

Photo by John: http://bit.ly/17ByjOy

What do you do in real life?

I’m about to start an MRes in Equality and Human Rights, I work in a museum and I read a lot of books.

Why is Pride important to you?

It’s a really good platform for campaigning on the current issues for queer and LGBT people and you feel part of a community out in the street. You know you can hold hands with your girlfriend and won’t get shouted at for it.

What is your best and worst part of pride?

The people are the best bit. Everyone’s so happy to be out regardless of the weather or whatever else might be going on. The worst bit is all the commercialisation. All the pubs, clubs and the like that turn up to promote their drink prices and don’t give a shit about the protest part. Pride isn’t about pubs.

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

Rainbow clothes! I don’t fit in for many reasons – one of those is my fashion sense or lack thereof – and it’s nice to not be judged for wearing rainbow flares. Well not too judged.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

“Gender Extender”. Actually it would probably say “Fuck gender binaries”.

fuck gender norms and barriers

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

Androgyny – Garbage

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

The all merge into one actually. Probably Pride Glasgow a couple of years ago. I can’t remember what I was getting a petition signed for but I got a few hundred signatures and talked to loads of people. It was great.

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of us. I’m proud that we fight for our rights and how we fight for them. We are creative campaigners: we march, we blog, we have catchy chants, historically we’ve staged die ins and kiss ins. We are a movement changing the world one chant at a time.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Denise

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Hi, I’m Denise *Waves* I’m almost 25 and I come from Glasgow.

Why did you get involved in The Gay Agenda?

I wanted to get involved as I feel that sometimes women in the Queer community have less of a voice than we should have (unfortunately), and I liked the idea to have a small chance to do something about that. Any opportunity to work with strong and inspirational women is fabulous in my opinion anyway.

What do you write about?

Anything that bothers me! I like having the opportunity to reflect on current affairs and how queer women are actually affected by certain issues. I’m also going to be writing some pieces for the music section of the website. There will be some reviews, fun articles and maybe even some interviews. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about what you’d like to see in this section, please comment and let me know!

Pride t-shirt

What do you do in real life?

In real life, I’m currently studying for a PhD in chemistry. I also run the LGBT society at Strathclyde university.

Why is Pride important to you?

Pride is important because it shows that the LGBT community is strong and united. Although things are becoming much better for LGBT people in our country, we can still face a lot of adversity in our daily lives. Pride shows that we aren’t afraid to celebrate who we are, and that we will stand together and never stop fighting for equal rights, no matter what is thrown at us. It’s also fantastic for newly out people to feel supported and part of a large community of people who are just like them. Coming out can be a scary and lonely experience, so it’s important for people to feel like they are not alone.

Samba

What is your best and worst part of pride?

The best part is the general atmosphere. Everyone is happy and proud, you have an awesome day with your friends no matter what the weather is doing and I love seeing the smiles on the faces of the people who stand on the streets and watch the parades! The worst part is probably the queues in bars afterwards – both to get a drink and to go to the toilet!

What is your must-have item for Pride?

I think my must-have item is probably a pride flag! I found 3 in my cupboard when I moved house recently.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

Hmm I dunno, “Cover me in chocolate and feed me to the lesbians!” I don’t know if my girlfriend would approve of that one though! If I was going to make a serious one it would probably be something about the horrendous situation in Russia.

What’s your Pride soundtrack?

Good Question! There’s not any music that I’m particularly “into” that I associate with pride. Probably the sort of really cheesy music they tend to have in clubs; songs like “I am what I am” always remind me of Pride, but it’s not really what I’d choose to listen to.

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

In 2010 I went to Brighton Pride and it was actually the first Pride I’d ever been to. It was amazing and I’d really love to go back there at some point.

Denise Brighton

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of the LGBT society and the things we have achieved since 2011. It can be hard at times but it does make me feel really proud when a student thanks you and tells you that you have made a difference to their university experience. I am also proud of having a really amazing and supportive network of friends and family.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Hazel

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Hi, I’m Hazel, I’m 23 and I’m originally from London, although I now live in Edinburgh.

Why did you get involved in the Gay Agenda?

I really admire some of the fabulous blogs out there aimed at queer women like The Most Cake, Autostraddle, Fuck Yeah Dykes and Diva. They inspired me to want to be part of the amazing online queer community which has bloomed over the last few years!

What do you write about?

I do a bit of everything! But mainly I write about current affairs, collate and I edit.

What do you do in real life?

I currently work in inclusive education at the University of Edinburgh.

Mug cinema 2

Why is Pride important to you?

I have always been keen for Pride. I remember my first ever Pride in London, I met up with a friend beforehand and we stood at the side of the road and watched the march pass by. Although I only watched that year I felt part of a  vibrant community, had a wonderful day, and couldn’t wait to be a part of the march at my next pride. At that time I didn’t really understand the historical significance of Pride, but I knew it was about celebrating a community I could be part of, and that was good enough. It’s been many years now since my first pride, and I have learned a ton about queer history and have given a few talk on it. It is still important to me as an experience that can bring queer people together to celebrate our community, but it’s also important as a protest to the homo-, trans*- and bi- phobias that we experience every day.

What is your best and worst part of pride?

I love Pride for the space it gives queer communities to celebrate ourselves! It’s always been a happy day for me. The worst however, is the bit in between the march and the nightlife where there is not a lot to do, but no real point in going home.

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

A big bottle of water. I am a big fan of chanting in the march, and I always shout myself hoarse.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

I have made a lot of placards, and it’s always tough to think of slogans! But I like something simple like ‘love is love’.

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

Although I’ve been to lots of prides up and down the country, my favourite Pride is still London Pride. It was my first ever Pride, and I try and make sure I’m in town whenever it is.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Brittany

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Brittany – I was born and raised in Devon, UK. I’m half German and also I’m part Scottish/English and I’m 19.

Why did you get involved in the Gay Agenda?

I love to write, it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to write about something I feel really strongly about. I want to become more involved within the LGBT+ community as I was never able to before having grown up in a somewhat homophobic area.

What do you write about?

For the Gay Agenda, I tend to write about gender and sexuality, however, I am more than happy to widen that to include art, music and religion, as I am pretty involved with all of that.

What do you do in real life?

I am an artist pretending to be a scientist. I am studying Developmental Biology/Biochemistry. I work in a museum, I write for the Gay Agenda as well as short stories and novellas. I’m an artist and I do take commissions for virtually anything and I’m an archer and I compete for the University of Edinburgh. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with this life, but I’m going to keep as many options open as I can. I’m just trying to make my way in the world and stay as far away from the past as I possibly can.

She really is an artist, look!

She really is an artist, look!

Why is Pride important to you?

Having never been to a Pride, the following questions aren’t as easy to answer, however, I’d say that the meaning behind it is particularly important – the message that we should be proud, or at least happy, with being who we are and not having to hold back or hide ourselves from the world. It would be idealistic to be able to not have any worries about not being straight and I only hope that Pride and anything to do with that will help us move in that direction, as I’m sure we all know, we are far from that. I think Pride is potentially a fantastic way of allowing people to accept themselves for whom they are and what they want to do – or at least, that’s what I’d love to get out of a Pride.

What is your best and worst part of pride?

I’d say that the best thing I’d like to get out of going to Pride would be to meet more people of varying sexualities, I don’t know how I’ve managed to do this, but I literally do not know anyone that isn’t straight. It would be so refreshing to meet some people that I can relate to, especially in regard to actually coming out (I haven’t really come out to anyone and so I’m still trying to figure out how to go about that.) I’m sure just being able to not have any walls up around other people would be lovely as I have never been able to let my guard down too much. The worst thing about a Pride? I can imagine that you can come across some people that are narrow minded about being something other than completely gay and that would worry me, as I identify as one of the many sexualities in the middle. I’m sure they’re relatively few, but I have known of (at least) in the past a few people that are “straight/bi/pan-phobic”.

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

I’d definitely say that I’d like to have either a camera or a sketchpad and graphite. I’d love to keep photos of whatever happens as I’m sure it’d be such an amazing time, but if that doesn’t work out, if it doesn’t irritate too many people – I’d sit there and sketch people as they’re having a drink (or several).

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

I’d have to really think about that; all I know is that I’d have to include “Never be defeated” in there.

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

Roses – Poets of the Fall, it may seem a little random, but it is one of my favourite songs (and bands) and it’s always managed to brighten up my day.

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

We’ll see soon, I hope!

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Julie

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

I’m Julie, soon to be 27, from Wishaw, North Lanarkshire.

Why did you get involved in the Gay Agenda?

I love writing and think it’s a great opportunity to share ideas and get creative with lots of other really interesting, diverse women.

What do you write about?

I plan to write comment pieces on LGBT+ rights, current affairs and anything else that gets me thinking. I also enjoy writing a good open letter.

What do you do in real life?

I work in a university students’ association, supporting elected officers with all aspects of student representation.

Why is Pride important to you?

For me, Pride is still, first and foremost, a protest. It’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come but also to highlight that we’ve a long way still to go. Until LGBT+ people are not only equal in the eyes of the law but also of society, both in the UK but worldwide, Pride is still necessary as a form of political protest.

What is your best and worst part of pride?

The best part of Pride for me is seeing everyone coming together and celebrating how proud they are to be themselves; whatever that may be. The worst part is the vibe I get that Pride belongs to those who hang around on the scene every week. Pride belongs to everyone and, whether you go for the protest, the party or a bit of both, every single person should feel like they are included and belong there.

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

The biggest rainbow flag I can find!

Pride parachute

This is definitely big enough.

Picture by lewishamdreamer: http://bit.ly/15DVbRV

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

This year I’ll be carrying a Russian flag along with my rainbow one instead of a placard. Last year Moscow banned Pride for 100 years and things are pretty grim for LGBT Russians right now so I want to acknowledge that. If anyone can think of a catchy slogan for my flag, let me know!

At night-time I might chill out a bit and go for the tried and tested “I’m here, I’m queer, who’s buying me a beer?”

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

Funnily enough, I’ve only been to Pride once before; also in Glasgow. I always seem to be out the country when it’s on. That was a few years ago and I just walked around taking everything in and bagged freebies from the stalls, but this year I hope to get more involved with everything that’s going on.

What are you proud of?

First and foremost I am proud of who I am. Gay/lesbian/queer, whatever you want to call it, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wish my 13-year-old self could see me now! This really comes down to having amazing family and friends who have always supported me, so I’m super proud of all of them too.

I am also proud to do my bit to stand up against inequality and injustice wherever I find it. Last year I wrote an open letter to a couple who delivered a petition against equal marriage to Downing Street and, thanks to a few celebrity re-tweets (including Stephen Fry!), it was read over 55,000 times in a week. And just last week I noticed that the International Olympic Committee’s social media guidelines said that “that’s so gay” was acceptable language. I challenged them about it on Twitter, got lots of LGBT groups involved, and within four hours they changed their policy. These are just two small actions, but I believe that if everyone stands up for what they believe in rather than waiting for someone else to do it, we can all change the world.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Sarah

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

My name is Sarah, I’m 24 soon to turn 25 and I’m half French half English.

Why did you get involved in The Gay Agenda?

I got involved in The Gay Agenda because I was taken in by the idea of putting forward LGBT women-focused topics without necessarily having to be heavily involved in things like politics. I think The Gay Agenda is a fab way to share everyday thoughts and ideas with women that I more closely identify with.

What do you write about?

I’m in charge of the style & beauty column, there’ll be posts on fashion, tried & tested beauty products, lifestyle chats etc.

What do you do in real life?

In real life I’m a spa and beauty therapist.

Gay OK

Photo by Charlotte Bakken: http://bit.ly/13Ysh8M

Why is Pride important to you?

Ironically pride wasn’t much of a big deal for me until last year. In actual fact I’d never attended one and wasn’t bothered about doing so, I’m even slightly ashamed to say that given the chance to go I would’ve most likely said no because the whole concept cringed me out slightly. But then I met my current girlfriend who loved going -more for the meeting up with mates and the drinks part to be fair but still- she took me along and it was actually a really good laugh! The atmosphere with the music and all the colours is like a mini rio carnival and it wasn’t half as ‘tacky’ ad I thought it’d be! Following on from that I went all out -no pun intended- and went on to do a video for Scotland’s equal marriage campaign. I guess as I get older I appreciate the efforts and steps necessary for the welfare and rights of LGBT people, of which I belong to, so I can’t leave everyone else to do all the work for me!

What is your best and worst part of pride? 

The worst part of pride is probably the sometimes questionable taste in fancy dress. The best part is definitely the sense of belonging and unity and of purse the night out!

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

My must have item for pride would be those coloured bead necklaces.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

If I had a placard for pride it would say GAY IS OK!

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

My pride track would be a pitbull remix-don’t judge me 

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

Well my best ever has to be my only one -edinburgh- but I’m positive that will get topped up soon!

What are you proud of?

What am I proud of? I’ve got a couple things that jump up at me: my spa & beauty therapy diploma and the things my girlfriend Leo’s achieved after some seriously rough times and finally on a more light hearted note I’m pretty pleased with myself that even while holidaying in St Pete, Russia, I managed to find the only gay club in the city! Complete with a dark room and their very own -absolutely stunning- drag queen. It’s completely irrelevant that it took about 30mins and 3 wrong addresses to get to it…

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Porn?

No I was looking for gifs of women with cats…

As many of you have probably guessed I am a lesbian. A very small (5″1) lesbian. I grew up in a very small ‘city’ (15,000 people and as far as I knew 14,999 heterosexuals). When you grow up feeling like the only gay in the village, the Internet is your LGBT community. It’s a place to find and talk to other people just like you with considerably less social awkwardness and no embarrassing open mouthed gaping at quite how many queers there are out there.

Tumblr didn’t exist when I was 15/16 and lacking in lesbian pals, because I’m older than I’d like to admit. But if it had, and if I were cooler, I would have been searching for all the #lesbian posts. Using Tumblr, After Ellen, WordPress and a host of other sites. These sites are a great way to find other queer women and feel part of a wider community when you may not know any other lesbians. It’s a way to feel less alone and ask all those awkward ‘Am I a lesbian? What is a lesbian? Do I need to move to a Greek island?’ type questions. Up until last week all the cool queers were using Tumblr to create this sense of community, post about politics, read about activism and appreciate pictures of women with cats. Today this isn’t so easy.

Tumblr have banned using ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’ as search terms on its app but bizarrely not currently on its main website. Tumblr defended this on their own blog by stating that

‘[t]he reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for’.

Searching for ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’ is not the same as searching for ‘porn’ or ‘sex’. I imagine if you want porn or sex you’d search for those words or more graphic descriptions. If you want pictures of rainbow cakes, videos of equal marriage demos and blogs on lesbophobia you search for and use hashtags like ‘lesbian’. To equate gay only with sex suggests our entire community is nothing more than a dating pool – a slur LGBT groups often have to fight against. For a popular blogging site to do this affirms the suggestion that if you’re looking for lesbian posts you must be wanting porn.

Tumblr hasn’t just equated every gay, lesbian and bisexual post on its website with porn regardless of content, it has also made some strange decisions about which tags to ban. The banned list includes ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘straight’. However, you can still search for ‘lesbo’, ‘dyke’, ‘bi’, ‘lez’, ‘LGBT’ ‘LGBTQ’, ‘queer’, ‘trans’, ‘homo’, ‘faggot’ and ‘homophobia’ – which many of those terms encourage. There aren’t many situations in which ‘queer’, ‘trans’ and ‘lesbo’ are more socially acceptable than ‘straight’. There is a more worrying problem here that it may now be easier to find homophobic posts than those promote and support the LGBT and queer communities.

Even this cat is shocked!

Even this cat is shocked!

Oi Tumblr, give us the gay back.

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Not in Our Name

You know what I hate? Transphobia. You know what I hate more? Transphobia in the name of feminism and lesbianism.

Once a year there’s this conference on Radical Feminism that produces vile transphobia in the name of defending feminism from penises or something. So once a year I search for the RadFem13 or whatever that year’s hashtag is, read something transphobic and get sad, then read all the feminists – cis and trans* – speaking out against it and get happy again. It’s a weird way to spend your time but if you do it for more than an hour your face starts to hurt. I imagine these ‘Radical’ so-called ‘Feminists’ spout their transphobia more than once a year but I don’t hear about it quite as often. However, today I discovered transphobia in guise of feminism and promoting lesbian identity is alive and well in Glasgow.

Today I discovered something called ‘Dyke March Glasgow’, https://www.facebook.com/GlasgowDykesUnite?ref=ts&fref=ts. This group wants a march to show,

‘young lesbians who are not out. Can see that they are not alone that they are not freaks. Also because I really would like to meet more Lesbians in and around Glasgow who would be interested in doing actions… Making zines having group meeting or just organising more space for lesbians to get together and talk / support one another’.

Well that sounds lovely. The Gay Agenda UK wants a nice safe space for queer women and a sense of community too. However, that’s where the comparison ends. In fact I should retract any comparison. I missed out the first part of their post that begins ‘I want to create a Woman Born Woman Lesbian Dyke March’. Yep that’s right – only ‘women born women’ can celebrate their identity and community. I don’t know many people that see us as ‘born’ ‘women’ instead focusing more on social construct but that, dear reader, is an argument for another time. I looked at the comments to see if they would clarify their position on ‘Woman Born Woman’ or ‘WBW’ as they refer to it just in case there was something I’d misinterpreted and my fears of transphobia were wrong. I’m about to repost some very transphobic things. I apologise for reiterating their bigotry but we need to know what kind of ideas we’re up against.

One person claimed: ‘Trans women are not women. they do not have the right to my space or my vagina, if that makes me ‘transphobic” so be it.’

Another claimed: ‘Men are not lesbians. No matter what they are wearing. Pro tip: the clue is the dick.’

And another: ‘Trans is a myth and illusion. Men can never be women.’

And finally: ‘A person with a penis is a male. A male with his penis removed is still a male – but now he is a male without a penis. That is fact, and no, it cannot be changed. All the ‘preferred gender pronouns’ in the world can’t change that reality.’

What gives you the right to name another person’s gender? Transphobia is not something that can just be shrugged off because it doesn’t hurt you specifically. When cis-people in the queer community shut trans* people out it damages our entire community as feminists, queers, LGBT people and as lesbians. When we say that we as women share oppression and as lesbians we share other different forms of oppression we have no right to say who gets to be counted as a woman or a lesbian. You define as a ‘queer’ ‘woman’ some or all of the time? Come on in to The Gay Agenda UK! We don’t check you genitalia at the door. There is a worrying reduction to biology here that suggests unless you have a fully functioning vagina, menstrual system and when you were born the doctor shouted ‘it’s a girl!’ you don’t get to call yourself a woman. When I introduce myself as Rhianna people don’t say to me ‘No you can’t call yourself that – you can’t sing’. That would be ridiculous. Yet this group are attempting some gender policing on who gets to define as a woman!

And, it isn’t just trans* women that don’t get to play at ‘Dyke March Glasgow’!

‘Het and bisexual women take from Lesbians’.

‘Dykes are lesbians. Transgender is anti-lesbian’.

Unfortunately these comments offer no explanation as to how or why trans* might be ‘anti-lesbian’ or what it is that is being taken from lesbians. Thankfully, lots of commenters are speaking out against this transphobia. One writes ‘Trans women are women too. Keep prejudice out of my lovely home city’ to which Dyke March Glasgow responded with ‘Stop being Lesbophobic.’ I am deeply troubled by a definition of lesbophobia that refuses trans* women to be called women. Dyke March Glasgow, I think you need to take a look at who you’re speaking for and why. Are trans* women really against your identity? The only lesbophobia I read on your page was directed at trans* lesbians.

There are only 31 people that like this Facebook page and there is a danger that promoting them with a blog post does more harm than good. However, we need to call out transphobia or bigotry. We can’t let it go unchallenged. Dyke March Glasgow claim to speak for young lesbians growing up gay in this city I live in. Being 25 I just about fit into that young lesbian in Glasgow category. Let me be perfectly clear here: when you hurl transphobic abuse at women under the guise of promoting lesbian identity, you do not speak for me. When you insist on some form of gender policing to keep women you don’t want to acknowledge as women out, you don’t speak for me. When you want to march for being born as a women ignoring any shared experience of lesbians, you you don’t speak to me.

Not in our name.

We are proud to stand with our trans* sisters. Photo by Kellie Parker: http://bit.ly/16wsZPu

We are proud to stand with our trans* sisters.

Photo by Kellie Parker: http://bit.ly/16wsZPu

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Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur

On the 10th of August the third issue of “Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur” will be available at Pride Glasgow. “Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur” is a Glasgow based, queer feminist zine project run by Glasgow Women’s Library in collaboration with LGBT Youth Scotland. It was originally set up to give young LGBTQ women a voice, to connect with the past and to record the lives and thoughts of young queer feminist women today.

The themes for issue three are pride and activism to match the Badges of Honour project which is going on just now at the Glasgow Women’s Library. The library’s project aims to show women wearing badges, showing their activism,and how they have changed the world. There has been a number of interviews carried out in the Badges of Honour project and the creators of the zine wanted to try and incorporate this into issue three. Therefore interviews asking people about their activism and experiences at pride events will be featured in the zine.

Another feature of issue three is badges. Alongside your copy of the zine you can also get specially made “Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur” badges. Badges are a fantastic way to show your pride for the things you’re passionate about to the world and look fantastic at the same time. “Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur” is trying to encourage people to be out and proud about the different types of activism they are involved in and causes they feel strongly about.

For further information about “Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur” and possible ways to get involved in the future visit: https://www.facebook.com/HensTaeWatchOotFur?fref=ts

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Lesbian Misogyny

So same-sex marriage has just been granted in England and Wales and hopefully Scotland will be soon to follow. I know that the bill is far from perfect and there are a lot of improvements which could have been made here, but that’s a subject for another blog. In light of this turn of events, I think it’s appropriate to congratulate everyone who has been involved in making this important piece of history possible. Especially the many strong, amazing and inspiring queer women, who have been tirelessly campaigning to make marriage equality a reality. After all, we are one big united community… gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer and trans* women. However we wish to identify ourselves, we all stand together, supporting each other in the face of discrimination we experience in our everyday lives. We are welcoming and accepting. We don’t belittle or judge each other, and we embrace and celebrate the things that make us different… right?

Wrong!

You only have to look at Diva magazine’s blog, Everyday Lesbophobia (http://everydaylesbo.com/) for a plethora of examples of women being harassed in the street, jeered and intimidated for daring to express who they are. If you want to depress yourself even further, check out the twitter page @EverydayLesboph. However, the even more worrying fact that has come to my attention recently, is that some of the ugliest examples of persecution and discrimination come from within our own community. Yes folks, the ugly truth is that in reality, lesbians can be misogynists too! Recently I’ve heard so many disturbing stories from friends and acquaintances that it’s really starting to make feel sick! Over the last few days, I’ve been asking women to share their stories and experiences with me, and here are the results.

Across the board, the most common example was of women being verbally harassed by nightclub door staff and other lesbians for “not looking gay enough!”  I know that society likes to perpetuate a certain stereotype that we are all big giant hairy man-haters who dress like blokes and swig beer (and for those of us who do fit that stereotype, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it), but excuse me for being naive in thinking that our community was a bit more open minded than the rest of the general public.

Two friends shared similar stories from living in different cities (London and Manchester) with supposedly large, vibrant and diverse LGBT scenes. Groups of more feminine looking women being refused entry to a gay bar and being subject to comments from the bouncers such as “are you lost?” “Do you know that this is a gay bar?” “You’ll be eaten alive in there,” and “We don’t do hen parties” (I know… what the fuck?!?) among some of the particularly lovely ones. On both occasions, the groups were only allowed entry to the venues when a “gayer” e.g. butcher looking friend/girlfriend appeared to question where their friends had disappeared to. Some examples I heard were just plain ridiculous e.g. you’re not a “proper lesbian” if you’ve never seen the L word. Even more bizarre in my opinion, “I once dated a woman who always introduced me to her friends as straight – because I didn’t look gay!”

Then there are the more sinister examples. One quote I received disturbed me even more…

“I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been verbally abused for not looking gay enough… then there was the time I was punched in the face.”

This type of behaviour is degrading, wholly unacceptable and disgusting!

Am I misunderstanding the point of open and friendly LGBT inclusive spaces? I didn’t realise that femmes were second class citizens who need to be chaperoned by a butch daddy in order to enjoy a night out on the town… as a lady slightly on the butcher side, I don’t experience this problem, but I still find it incredibly offensive. This opinion feeds into the idea that two feminine women who are part of a couple aren’t “real” lesbians; that they are teasing, only there to be ogled for the pleasure and titillation of men. This therefore gives men the right to harass them, make inappropriate comments and ask if they can “join in.” Reading many of the comments on Everyday Lesbophobia, it would appear that many of us have come to expect this sort behaviour from men when out in public. However, I find it sad, confusing and even more surprising to learn that such ignorance can sometimes be perpetuated by other women. This type of prejudice is experienced by some women in our community to a greater extent than others – in particular, those who identify as bisexual or pansexual.

femme invisibility can fuck off

Those who identify into these groups have told me that they are often eyed with suspicion from within the community, and as such find it difficult to fit in. These women are often not taken seriously as it’s assumed that they are only “out for a fling” because “being straight has got a bit boring this week.” A few women told me that women they speak to on the scene think they must be in the closet, since “all bisexuals are just afraid to come out,” either that, or they’re all just “in denial.”

One of the most striking examples comes from a good friend of mine, who brought her boyfriend along to an equal marriage campaign event. “How can you fight for what you’re fighting for when you have a boyfriend?” she was asked by a complete stranger. A complete stranger who knows nothing about her circumstances and experiences, and who really has absolutely no right to make comment. I mean, why would a woman with a boyfriend want to campaign for equal marriage? Aside from the fact that she might think it’s the right thing to do, what does it matter if she happens to be with a man and happens to have the right to choose if she wants to marry him. However if she equally happened to be with a woman, that right would be denied to them. Why should something as trivial as gender have such a massive impact on the outcome of a person’s relationship, especially when gender doesn’t matter in that person’s heart?

Coming out as L,G,B,T, Queer etc. is not the same experience for everyone. However, many of us find it frightening and intimidating, especially with the prospect that we might be rejected by those closest to us. As a 25 year-old that came out at aged 13, a lot of that process seems like a distant memory, but I still remember the first time I went to a gay bar. I was underage, it was during the day and there were a grand total of about 8 people in there – most of them middle aged men. Regardless, I still remember it to be one of the most frightening and intimidating experiences of my teenage years. I’m now trying to imagine how frightening and traumatic this experience might have been, was I a young feminine lesbian, barely out of the closet, going for my first night out in a lesbian bar… only to be heckled at the door and told I wasn’t allowed to come in because I didn’t “look the right way.” After all, many of us want to experience that feeling that we belong somewhere, be it in our families, homes, friendship circles and wider communities. However most of us have a greater expectation of finding that sense of belonging among our LGBT communities.

Speaking of LGBT spaces not being inclusive, I (perhaps controversially) think that this should also apply to straight people. Yes, I live in lesbo land, but many of my nearest and dearest do not. However, if for example it happens to be my birthday, and I want to go out and celebrate in a gay bar… how dare my straight best friends want to come along and celebrate with me? Naturally, depending on the door staff, they are not always welcome.

Maybe this big happy queer bubble only exists in my head, where everything is a bit like pride. Everyone is happy and smiley, there’s lots of glitter and everyone looks fabulous and embraces each other. Why can’t we be more inclusive and welcoming of everyone who wants to be associated with our community? Why can’t we welcome each other with open arms? When we experience such persecution and discrimination from the wider world, why do we feel the need to propagate it among ourselves? This is particularly important for the younger members of our community who might not yet feel so certain about how to define their sexuality or gender identify.

None of us are the same, but our differences are something that I think we should be celebrating! We need to look past all the labels and remember all the things which we do have in common. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bi, pan, trans*, queer, asexual or any other minority identity. We all have a slightly different experience to bring to the table and we all know something about experiencing prejudice –especially if you are a woman. We should be working together to tackle homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, queerphobia, lesbophobia sexism and misogyny – not excluding each other on the basis of meaningless labels.  Inside, we are all strong and fabulous – isn’t that enough?

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