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What's the point of Lesbian Visibility Week and how did it start?

What's the point of Lesbian Visibility Week and how did it start?

everything to know about Lesbian Visibility Week
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The "United Not Uniform" theme has never been so prevalent.

@andrewjstillman


The "United Not Uniform" theme has never been so prevalent.

everything to know about Lesbian Visibility Week

Shutterstock

Sometimes it sucks that we need things like Lesbian Visibility Week (LVW) to bring attention to marginalized voices. But it’s super important to have weeks like this to bring specific issues back to the forefront.

During this year’s LVW, the theme is United Not Uniform, and we are here for some much-needed representation in the sapphic space. According to the UK-based version of the LVW website, the 2024 week will celebrate the “power of sisterhood by uplifting incredible LGBTQIA women and non-binary people from every generation, in every field and in every country around the world. One community, so many brilliant individuals.”

Keep reading to learn more about LVW, how it got started, and what it represents.

What is lesbian visibility week?

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Lesbian Visibility Week is in the middle of its fifth year. However, the individual Lesbian Visibility Day has been recognized on April 26 since 2008. Linda Riley, publisher of DIVA, one of the leading magazines for LGBTQIA+ women and non-binary people, started the week to support and empower non-binary and trans lesbians.

“I came to the conclusion that a single day for lesbian visibility was simply insufficient,” she wrote in a piece for Stonewall. “We needed, and deserved, more time to shine a light on some of the amazing women in our community, and to celebrate who we are without a fear of prejudice, harassment or vilification.”

In another piece written two years later, Riley noted, “When lesbian erasure continues to be a force that damages our ability to express ourselves and live full, authentic lives, celebrating and uplifting our community is essential.”

What's going on with the United Not Uniform theme?

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As mentioned above, this year’s focus during LVW is United Not Uniform, and the activation pack reminds us all to celebrate the queer and non-binary women that support you in your life. According to the US version of the LVW website, recent research from the Just Like Us charity showed that two-thirds of lesbians delay coming out due to harmful stereotypes.

Last year, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced Lesbian Visibility Week at a historic press briefing in the White House. Jean-Pierre is the first out lesbian to hold this position; it served as a government endorsement and a cultural movement that helped move the topic of inclusion forward.

This year, the focus is on a more internationally united front. Again, Lesbian Visibility Day has been recognized since 2008, but the entire week is still newer and originated in the UK. The press briefing at the White House last year gave the week more of an international platform, as all eyes from around the world tune into what the White House has to say, for better or worse.

Why is Lesbian Visibility Week important?

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The Curve Foundation, which produces Curve Magazine and “champions lesbian, queer women, transgender and non-binary people’s stories and culture through intergenerational programming and community building,” says their work is critical to “move the LGBTQ+ community out of a scarcity framework toward a future based on abundance.”

As always, allyship is a crucial factor in ensuring all of this happens, and why LVW needs and deserves more attention as it grows.

interracial lesbian couple

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Over the last few years, LVW has gained supporters such as GLAAD, UK Black Pride, LGBT Foundation, and the Peter Tatchell Foundation, to name a few.

However, according to an Advocate piece also written by Riley, she noted that she created LVW because she “had noticed that more and more, the L in LGBTQ+ was becoming particularly marginalized. I am a proud cis lesbian and a proud trans ally. But many in the LGBTQ+ community were beginning to equate cis lesbians with transphobes, which is fundamentally untrue. I wanted to help create a narrative that shows once and for all that the vast majority of cis lesbians are inclusive… So this is why during Lesbian Visibility Week we celebrate and center all lesbians, both cis and trans, while also showing solidarity with all LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary people.”

How can I support lesbians outside of Lesbian Visibility Week?

lesbians kissing each other

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Visibility Weeks are implemented to bring awareness that can extend past that one week. We all know it feels pretty hypocritical when corporate conglomerates change their entire aesthetic during June to celebrate Pride, to go back to marginalizing the community as soon as the celebrations are over.

It’s no different for Lesbian Visibility Week. Mainly due to the number of queer women who remain closeted because of fear, it’s essential to be more inclusive of lesbian women within the queer community. Just as bi erasure is a problem, lesbian erasure faces just as much of a burden at times and would do well with some more attention.


elderly interracial lesbian couple

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In the same Advocate piece, Riley urged people to remember that “with so much more visibility than we have had in the past, it is easy to assume that the legal rights of marginalized groups are on a permanently upward, positive path. But the sad truth is that equality and human rights can vanish at the stroke of a pen.”

This sad truth is why these types of Visibility Weeks exist in the first place and also the reason a lot of queer advocates call on the support of allies. The more allies who come together and offer genuine support to the marginalized communities, the easier it will be for the whole world to finally move toward a more inclusive and safe space for everyone who inhabits it.

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Andrew J. Stillman

Contributing Writer for Pride.com

Andrew J. Stillman is a freelance writer and yoga instructor exploring the world. Check him out at andrewjstillman.com or follow him @andrewjstillman on all the things.

Andrew J. Stillman is a freelance writer and yoga instructor exploring the world. Check him out at andrewjstillman.com or follow him @andrewjstillman on all the things.