QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian culture and visibility

Queer Culture
Lesbian Visibility & Culture

The word "lesbian" can bring to mind a lot of different images based on the stereotypes associated with the term.

From secret meetups in the 1950’s to the 1970’s lesbian communes to our community today, lesbians have a rich history of our own. Throughout the years, we have always embodied a sense of community and supported each other; fought for our rights and freedoms; and acted as allies both to others in the GBT2Q+ community and those from other minority communities facing oppression. Our history has not been perfect but it is one that often disappears.

Wise Words:
Lesbian Edition

queer events lesbian visibility day post

Lesbian Visibility Day

Celebrated on April 26th

Created in 2008, lesbian visibility day showcases women-loving-women, providing a platform for lesbian role models to speak out on the issues facing female-identified sexual minorities.

This day, alongside all queer awareness days, are an integral part of moving towards an intersectional society where all are treated equally and fairly.

Queer Culture

Lesbian Subcultures: Butch/Femme

Whether it’s the femmes reclaiming femininity from the male gaze or rejecting feminine gender norms by embracing butch, this lesbian subculture is intrinsically radical, but how much do you know about it?

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Queer History

History of Dyke March

An indomitable legacy is carried on to this day by Dyke Marches, one that pushes back against centuries of erasure, oppression, and systematic cruelty.

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Lesbian Visibility & Culture

queer culture - lesbian subculture

Lesbian Visibility Day was created in 2008, to not only celebrate women loving women but also to raise awareness on issues facing our community. Some of these issues have changed over the years but some remain the same. The bar scene was often the target of police violence, and was largely dominated by gay men. With more access to money and public space than their lesbian counterparts, gay men, while still in danger of homophobic violence, could dance, sweat, and cruise more freely. Lesbians, meanwhile, and still today, struggle under the dual burden of sexism and homophobia. They make less money than their male counterparts, and are subject to specific kinds of sexual harassment and violence.

Despite all of this, now, more than ever, it is essential that we recognize, celebrate and most importantly support lesbians across Canada to be their true selves at work, home and socially. To show that lesbians still remain true to a long history of inclusive activism and are a voice for unity that uplift ALL women especially those from marginalized communities and our trans sisters.

Community Symbols

QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian community symbol asl lesbian

Lesbian in ASL

Fun fact: the thinking emoji is the same as Lesbian in sign language.

The right "L" hand is held palm facing the body, index finger pointing left. In this position the hand is placed against the chin.

QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian community symbol labry flag design

Labrys Flag

Originally from Crete in Greece, the labrys is an adopted icon of lesbians. Minoan people shaped the double-sided axe for daily use and wielded it for power. Among the ancients, the labrys was associated with female divinities. Among the lesbians who adopted it during the 1970s, it symbolized women’s power. One could wear a labrys without revealing oneself as a lesbian, unlike the other, equally popular, double women's symbol, which, upon scrutiny by friends, family, or curious bystanders, revealed itself immediately as lesbian.

QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian community symbol black triangles

Black Triangles

This symbol takes the scientific symbol for "female" and doubles it to represent two females or women loving women.

QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian community symbol double venus

Double Venus

This symbol takes the scientific symbol for "female" and doubles it to represent two females or women loving women.

QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian community symbol labrys

Labrys

Originally from Crete in Greece, the labrys is an adopted icon of lesbians. Minoan people shaped the double-sided axe for daily use and wielded it for power. Among the ancients, the labrys was associated with female divinities. Among the lesbians who adopted it during the 1970s, it symbolized women’s power. One could wear a labrys without revealing oneself as a lesbian, unlike the other, equally popular, double women's symbol, which, upon scrutiny by friends, family, or curious bystanders, revealed itself immediately as lesbian.

QueerEvents.ca - queer culture - lesbian community symbol nautical star

Nautical Star

Some lesbians have a star tattooed on the inside or outside of their wrists. Some scholars say that lesbians in the 1950s tattooed the stars on their wrists as a way to recognize one another. And the symbol was easily covered with a wristwatch when necessary.

Queer Terms

  • Butch

    Definition

    Used for either a lesbian who exhibits a stereotypically masculine appearance/behaviour or the person in the dominant role in a lesbian relationship.

Lesbian Community Dates

  • Apr 26th

    Lesbian Day of Visibility

    Annually on April 26th

  • 1st Sat July

    Femme Appreciation Day

    First Saturday of July

  • Aug 18th

    Butch Appreciation Day

    August 18th

Did you know...

  • Lesbian Avengers: Eating Fire

    QueerEvents.ca - Queer History: History of Dyke March - lesbian avengers eating fire ny times article image

    On October 31st 1992, the Avengers literally ate fire on the streets of the West Village in response to a hate crime in Salem, Oregon, in which a lesbian and gay man, Hattie Mae Cohens and Brian Mock, were burned to death in their own home during the last days of a heated campaign to pass a statewide ballot measure in Oregon which would have classified homosexuality as “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse” and would have required the state government to be assertive in discouraging homosexuality, teaching that it is a moral offense similar to pedophilia, sadism and masochism (the measure was defeated that November, albeit narrowly, in part due to the public horror over this hate crime which many blamed upon the toxic environment created by the campaign to pass the ballot measure). The New York Times Magazine stated, "They ate fire, chanting, as they still do: "The fire will not consume us. We take it and make it our own."" The Avengers continued to demonstrate after that day by marching with torches, and burnt signs with the names of anti-lesbian and gay propositions blamed for the homophobic violence.

Individuals Empowering Our Community

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - barbara findlay

barbara findlay

barbara findlay is a lesbian feminist lawyer known for her ground-breaking equality rights cases argued at the highest court levels in Canada. She has practised as a labour lawyer, worked for the Legal Services Society doing poverty law, and has been a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia.

She is a founding member of the provincial and national queer lawyers' groups in the Canadian Bar Association, called SOGIC (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference), and has been a member of LEAF (the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund) as a board member of West Coast LEAF and as a member of the National Legal Committee.…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable People - Anne Marie MacDonald

Ann-Marie MacDonald

Ann-Marie MacDonald, is a Governor General’s Award-winning playwright, novelist and broadcast journalist, is known for her literary works, Fall on Your Knees and The Way The Crow Flies.

In December 2018, MacDonald was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada, in recognition of "her multi-faceted contributions to the arts in Canada and for her advocacy of LGBTQ+ and women's rights".

She’s also appeared in several films including Better Than Chocolate.

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Chris Bearchell

Chris Bearchell

Chris Bearchell is a one of the most notable people in the history of queer liberation in Canada. She began writing for The Body Politic in 1975 and for years was the only woman writing for the paper. She was also part of the founding of some of the first queer organizations in Canada.

She was part of the first coordinating committee of GATE (the Gay Alliance Towards Equality), co-founded the Lesbian Organization of Toronto and was at the founding meeting in 1975 of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario in which she became one of its key players. In 1976, Chris became the first Chair of the Committee to Defend John Damien, a racing-horse…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC -Angela James

Angela James

Angela James was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, becoming the first openly gay player,one of the first women, and only the second black athlete to ever be inducted.

Also known as "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey", she amongst many other achievements led the Canadian women’s hockey team to four world championships (1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997).

James has been a dominant force in…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Angela Robertson

Angela Robertson

Angela Robertson is an activist working with black, women’s and LGBTQ communities. She is widely respected and recognized for implementing life-transforming programs for women in Toronto. Angela is currently Executive Director of Queen West - Central Toronto Community Health Centre. She was previously Director of Equity & Community Development at Women’s College Hospital and Executive Director of Sistering – A Woman’s Place which is an organization that offers practical and emotional support to homeless, under-housed and low-income women in the city.

She was an editorial member of ‘Our Lives’, Canada’s first Black Women’s newspaper…

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand is one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets, novelist and directors. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry and the Trillium Book Award for her 1997 collection Land to Light On. Her collection thirsty won the 2003 Pat Lowther Award. Her novel What We All Long For won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2006. She won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize for Ossuaries.

She was Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012, and in 2017, she was named to the Order of Canada.

QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Faith Nolan

Faith Nolan

Faith Nolan is a singer/songwriter with a deep history of queer, women’s and anti-poverty activism. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, her parents and extended family were coal miners in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia of African, Miqmaq and Irish heritage. She later grew up in Toronto's working-class Cabbagetown. Her commitment to social justice comes from her life experiences and the people she grew up with, and she works through the cultural tool of music. Her music is her political work, a politics firmly rooted in her being working class, a woman, African Canadian and queer.

Faith is the founder and director of three different choirs in Toronto, Singing…

Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness

Lesbian Visibility In A Time Of Unspeakable Desires

In 1921, Lord Birkenhead, the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, opposed a bill that would have criminalised lesbianism on the grounds that "of every thousand women ... 999 have never even heard a whisper of these practices". Seven years later, during the summer of 1928, British author Radclyffe Hall published her novel about a lesbian relationship, bringing the subject of homosexuality into the country’s literary culture. This publication resulted in one of the most infamous trials across multiple countries as publishers fought to have the book removed for the “obscene” classification.

The Well’s trial was a crucial moment in lesbian identity and culture. The publicity increased lesbian visibility and for decades it was not only the best-known lesbian novel in English, but it was the first source of information about lesbianism that could be found. While there have been many critiques about the novel itself, it has had an undeniable impact on lesbian visibility. "There was probably no lesbian in the four decades between 1928 and the late 1960s capable of reading English or any of the eleven languages into which the book was translated who was unfamiliar with The Well of Loneliness" - Lillian Faderman, Historian.

In 1949 the book was still listed on Canada Customs' prohibited importations list but that would not stop its spread into Canada.The ban only succeeded in bringing more attention to the very subject it was intending to suppress. In fact, when the local press reported on the novel and it’s obscenity trials in the 1920s, they gave a name to what was referred to at the time as the “nameless vice between women”. One press in particular, Hush in Toronto asserted that while in the minds of a moral populace, gay sex was terrible, the idea of lesbian sex was unspeakable and unimaginable. Yet, the press succeeded in making lesbianism, speakable, imaginable and visible.

Read Online @gutenberg.net.au

Food for Queers Community Program

Food for Queers
Stay Safe. Not Hungry

Fresh meals for LGBT2Q+ folks within the City of London

No questions. No contact. Just Lunch!

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