Lesbian visibility week, as any other LGBTQ+ awareness event is incredibly important platform for underrepresented groups. It is a celebration of wonderful diversity and a chance to educate, bust stereotypes and join together as a community.
This year I can’t help but feel a little invisible and quite a lot deflated.
I’m conscious that there is much more I could be doing in my workplace for example, where I use gender neutral pronouns to describe my partner, shy away from talking about my weekend and not feeling able to challenge someone when they presume I have a male partner.
Part of it is because I am in an environment where I’m the only ‘one’, part of it is the awkwardness of challenging people, part of it is the internal sigh that I shouldn’t have to be doing this and part of it is a fear of being rejected- something I’m confident to write that has, tragically, happened to many of us.
I have days where my response is to be assertive, question, challenge and educate – “What makes you think my partner is male?” but today I feel less confident to stand up and proudly be visible. I think I get like this when things are tough- and with COIVID-19- most things are tough.
COVID aside, it’s hard being honest in a world that tells you to put on a brave face.
It’s hard challenging people when you’re told to be accepting of others.
It’s hard when society tells you there isn’t a problem anymore yet it’s obvious that the world isn’t tolerant. And its hard receiving looks of horror and then having to prove yourself- “you don’t look gay”- or worse being asked inappropriate questions “so… how does it work in bed then?”, “who’s gonna be the ‘real’ Mum if you have children”.
Or the other way, when you become a label- “Let me introduce you to Ellie, my lesbian friend” and “this is Ellie, the one I told you about…*hint hint*”.
Coming out is never an easy process- having come out to family and friends, and even some strangers, I often find it hard to face a seemingly never ending battle of prejudice. But I’m realising that maybe it’s okay that it’s hard and I can’t do it everyday, after all, I am human. And also, maybe it’s okay to secretly enjoy the fact that people think they have me figured out, knowing everything they ‘know’ is wrong. Maybe I need to start taking a bit more pleasure in holding my head up, being my authentic self for MYSELF and quietly whispering an “up yours” to anyone who has an issue with it. After all, it’s not a bad thing to remind yourself you’re not the one with the problem.
There are some environments where it will be a battle but it’s not because of me, it’s ignorance and judgement and I can never change that.
AND it’s my call when I feel comfortable to challenge.
It’s my call to ‘come out’.
It’s my story to tell and I can find power in that, whether that’s externally (shouting from the rooftops, raising my eyebrows or politely telling someone they are a bigot) or internally (remembering the comedian who spoke about this exact same scenario, deciding I’ll be blocking that person from social media when I get the chance or simply imagining putting on my favourite plaid shirt when I get home!).
Maybe that’s what visibility really means – accepting yourself and being visible for yourself above all else. Not hiding or pushing out thoughts about your sexuality, not feeling ashamed for loving someone, not needing to be anyone else.
Maybe lesbian visibility is just another reminder for me to be confident, unafraid and assertive and to turn to my queer friends who are all doing the same. Afterall, they don’t call us the LGBTQIA+ community for nothing, do they?