Existing In Plain Sight: 26th April Lesbian Visibility Day

When i make love to you

I try

With each stroke of my tongue

To say, I love you

To tease, I love you

To hammer

I love you, to melt

I love you

And your sounds drift down

Oh god!

Oh Jesus!

And I think

Here it is, some dude’s

Getting credit for what

A woman

Has done


-Pat Parker

Reduced to being best friends, sisters, ‘just really close’ and more, the female/ woman’s experience of homosexuality is as controlled and prescribed as living as a female/ woman (whether cis or trans) is.

Being a woman and loving women then, gets tougher and is often invisibilised by most of mainstream media and popular culture, with pornographic content that solely shows lesbian women as existent for the pleasure of cisgender, heterosexual men who hang around watching, or for men in relationships who want to watch their spouses have sexually intimate moments with another women and even for the sake of fantasies that involve more than 2 women and always one man who ‘owns’ them and their sexuality.

The 26th of April is Lesbian Visibility Day, and it leads us to ask questions about who a ‘lesbian’ is. This mythical creature, that seems to exist in the most perfect garment of a body only in pornography or in English films far from the reach of the Indian mind. Visibility is now more important than ever, for the lives of women who love women are as important as any other. These lives, which encompass experiences, love, laughter and their entire beings, are so much more than a fantasy, an encounter or a sexually charged experience. Providing a space to feel the intricacies in a relationship where women love women, just as we provide the nuances of a heterosexual one, should be encouraged, spoken about and seen. All this, so that more people are not invisibilised, not taken seriously and more young people know that it is okay- and that they are completely and utterly ‘normal’.

The World Economic Forum says that gay and lesbian youth are four times more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide, with Transgender individuals ten times more likely to do so. A space like India has a growing homophobic culture, calling it a product of western influence instead of looking at the obvious cultural history we have of homosexuality. This, in turn increases the risk of many younger people in the country contemplating suicide.

A day of visibility is trying to create a space for dialogue, reduce hate, and give some breathing space to all of us who are constantly at war with ourselves regarding our sexualities- often reduced to not being able to find the ‘right’ guy.

In hindsight, does the label of being a ‘lesbian’ then, only belong to those who were born with certain body parts typically associated with females/ women? Do women who want to call themselves ‘gay’ rather than ‘lesbian’ also come under this term? Why do we need a term at all- if we all can just be called homosexual? How do we treat those who have transitioned and those who know themselves as women and who also identify as lesbians? Is that even a possibility? Do we hope for the box to be such that it is fluid enough to include everyone within reason?

These are questions a lot of us dabble with in the larger community and in the search for inclusivity.

From the 23rd of April to the 2nd of May, we will be posting a range of topics in the attempt to answer a few, if not all of these questions. Watch this space for a special theme curated collection on stories of Lesbian visibility with Trans authors, illustrated specials, vampire stories, love in Sri Lanka and more!

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Jo Krishnakumar is a trans queer researcher interested in all things sex, sexuality, gender and how different groups/people experience these wor(l)ds. Their work is informed by their constant learning/unlearning of the privileges they have due to their social location as a dominant/oppressive caste person (Nair) while also occupying space as a (mentally) disabled trans person of colour. Find them on their unfinished webspace www.waytojo.com.

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