‘Visibility takes many forms. Whatever form it takes for you, your visibility, your pride, and your identity are still valid’ (Stonewall, 2020)
Youth Trust Counsellor Sarah shares what Lesbian Visibility Day is, its importance and what it means to lesbians:
Since 2008, 26th April has been a day of celebration and recognition of a group of people who for so long have been marginalised. Lesbian Visibility Day shows the diversity within our communities and highlights the struggles and successes of LGBTQ+ women. Historically, LGBTQ+ women have been marginalised, fetishized, vilified and harassed. With recent ONS figures showing an increase in the number of young people identifying as lesbian, gay or bi, the Lesbian Visibility Day is a time when they can see they are not alone.
Visibility can mean different things to different people. Diva magazine’s annual publication of the Visible 100 List shows LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people who are open about their sexuality and/or gender. The list includes influencers, sports personalities and politicians; inspirational people who show us that coming out doesn’t have to mean being rejected by others, we can come out and still achieve our dreams. The Visible 100 List can provide role models and hope for the future, but life isn’t all rainbows and it’s important to remember those who still live in the shadows. Knowing that other people have survived the same struggles as you can be empowering.
Here we would like to share what Lesbian Visibility Day means to some lesbians:
“Lesbian Visibility Day is important, as are so many other days, because this day allows us to celebrate lesbians here and abroad. These include the lesbians who have come before us, and those who have paved the way, as well as lesbians today who are raising the roof, and younger lesbians, who are our future leaders.” – Phyll Opoku-gyimah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of UK Black Pride
“Growing up I never saw people like me, I knew no LGBT people until my early twenties and what I learnt from TV was that all lesbians looked one way and we largely all got killed off in the end. That’s why lesbian visibility days are so important: it shows the diversity of our community, from the incredible and ground-breaking to the beautiful every day.” – Katie Fox, Programmes Officer, Stonewall Cymru
“Lesbian Visibility Day is important because, despite the improvements in legislation in the UK, lesbians are still often erased from or face challenges in public life, cultural productions, their families of origin and some faith organisations.” – Jane Czyzselska, a Psychotherapist and former Editor of Diva
“I was lucky enough to have lesbian role models growing up but not everyone does, so I try to be as visible as possible. I want to be someone who young girls can look at and think, ‘I’m safe around her and she celebrates who I am’, whether that’s because I’m holding my girlfriend’s hand in public or just standing on my own, wearing my lace-up boots and a ring of keys.” – Adelaide Robinson, Prospect Research Officer, Stonewall
“When I was younger, ‘lesbian’ was always spat at me as a slur in a spiteful and disgusted tone. Otherwise, it was seen as a dirty word, highly sexualised, and muttered under your breath. It’s so important that young people are exposed to positive representations of lesbians in the media so that they don’t feel the same stigma. When I realised that I was only attracted to women, I thought the sky would fall in. I couldn’t see myself having a wife or a family, being successful, or finding happiness. I now realise that those premonitions were completely unfounded, and that it is possible to thrive in life as a lesbian.” – Megan Snedden, Campaigns, Policy and Research Officer, Stonewall Scotland
Sarah has also put together a noticeboard in Youth Trust House which celebrates pioneering lesbians through history:
Breakout Youth runs a weekly Youth Group for the Islands LGBTQ+ community aged 11-25, they can also provide one to one support
For more information visit: https://www.breakoutyouth.org.uk/services/