Lesbian Visibility Week is now! There’s no better way to pay homage than to pay our respects to pioneering moments. These moments helped to pave the way for Lesbian awareness and acceptance. The more you know:
1. The Daughters of Bilitis (1955)
Founded in San Francisco in 1955, the Daughters of Bilitis was the first lesbian organization in the United States. The group aimed to provide a social and political outlet for lesbian women to fight against the social and legal discrimination they faced. The organization created a magazine called “The Ladder”, which became a critical resource for the lesbian community.
2. The Lavender Menace (1970)
At the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City in 1970, a group of lesbian feminists known as the Lavender Menace disrupted proceedings. They did so by distributing a manifesto that called for greater inclusion of lesbians in the feminist movement. The manifesto, titled “The Woman-Identified Woman,” argued that feminism was incomplete without an understanding of lesbianism. It further dictated lesbianism must be recognized and valued as a legitimate identity. The Lavender Menace helped bring greater visibility to lesbian feminists and played a critical role in the development of lesbian feminist theory.
3. The Combahee River Collective (1974)
The Combahee River Collective, a group of Black lesbian feminists, was founded in Boston in 1974. The collective’s statement, published in 1977, is considered a landmark in feminist and LGBTQ+ thought. The statement argued that oppression was not just a matter of gender or sexuality but was also shaped by race, class, and other intersecting identities. The collective’s focus on intersectionality and the unique experiences of Black lesbians helped bring greater attention to the ways in which different forms of oppression intersect and overlap.
4. The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights (1979)
The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, held in Washington D.C. in 1979, was the first large-scale LGBTQ+ march on the nation’s capital. The march, which drew an estimated 75,000 participants, was organized to demand greater civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people, including anti-discrimination legislation and recognition of same-sex relationships.
5. The AIDS Crisis (1980s-1990s)
The AIDS crisis had a profound impact on the LGBTQ+ community, including lesbians. While lesbians were not as directly affected by the disease as gay men, they played an important role in caring for them. These women advocated for greater resources and attention for the sick. The crisis also spurred the formation of numerous lesbian health organizations, such as the Lesbian Health Project, which focused on educating and supporting lesbian women around sexual health and other issues.
Lesbian visibility will continue to be a work in process for the foreseeable future. Revolutionary events have proven impactful and the ongoing day to day presence of same-sex relationships will help to normalize acceptance.
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