What Is International Lesbian Day?
Why We Celebrate International Lesbian Day?
The Origins Of International Lesbian Day
Like Lesbian Visibility Day, which is celebrated on April 26th of each year, International Lesbian Day is dedicated to honouring the contributions of lesbians to the LGBTQ+ community and raising awareness of the numerous issues that lesbians experience in their daily lives.
There are many varying accounts as to how International Lesbian Day began. According to one popular theory, the holiday was established in 1980 when a group of 40 lesbian activists organized a Lesbian Day March in Wellignton Park, New Zealand.
Why We Celebrate International Lesbian Day
So why do we dedicate a whole day to the lesbian community? Here are two reasons why it’s important to celebrate International Lesbian Day:
To Shed Light On Their Contributions To The Queer Community
Lesbians have been integral to the women’s rights and 2SLGBTQ+ rights movement. Lesbians have always been at the forefront of gender equality. In fact, some of the biggest names in the feminist movements of the 1970s and 1980s identified as lesbians, from author Rita Mae Brown to poet and essayist Adrienne Rich to writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde.
Lesbians also stood as “blood sisters” for the gay and bisexual men who struck with AIDS during the 80s epidemic. When doctors and nurses refused to treat people with HIV or AIDS, groups of lesbians volunteered to care for them and even donate their blood to those in need of transfusions.
To Highlight The Unique Struggles Lesbians Face
Living in a patriarchal society, lesbians are subjected to double discrimination as both women and as homosexuals. Our patriarchal society dictates that women act, talk, and look a certain way – a way that is acceptable and useful to men. So when butch and gender non-conforming lesbians present themselves as masculine, androgynous, or anywhere outside of the realm of the feminine, they become undesirable and essentially “useless” to men. Butch and masculine-presenting WLWs are thus subjected to either more discrimination and stigmatization or are rendered virtually invisible to the eyes of men.
As such, in some countries, lesbians face threats of forced marriage and corrective rape in an attempt to “convert” them into the “ideal” heterosexual woman. In the workplace, lesbians may face exclusion from career and social opportunities. And in the health care setting, lesbians may experience having their concerns dismissed by medical practitioners.
The Bottom Line
All this is to say that International Lesbian Day is an incredibly important day that exists to shed light on all the pressing concerns faced by members of the lesbian community.