It has been going since the 1990s and is mainly observed in Australia and New Zealand.
One woman’s story to highlight Lesbian Day of Visibility 2020:
Staying visible whilst staying in
A few years ago, my wife and I were the intended victims of a neighbour’s pre-meditated but thwarted homophobic attack. Because of a variety of circumstances, we ended up isolating for three weeks whilst the police and others held an investigation.
It had been many years since I had come out, and over that time I had a long journey with my lesbian identity that has included reluctance, shame, intrigue, pride, confidence, and acceptance (not necessarily in that order!). By the time this incident happened, I’d settled into a nice place of self-acceptance and happy visibility. I was happily married, an LGBT network representative at work, and had spoken about my lesbian identity in various media outlets.
But because of the incident, I became all too aware of my identity in another way—it was my visibility as a lesbian that nearly led to physical harm. My ownership over my identity, and thus the visibility surrounding it, was taken away from me – I didn’t have control over how people, even those helping, saw me.
I didn’t want to be The Lesbian Who Escaped the Hate Crime. I wanted to go back to being my office’s LGBT Network role model, the woman who proudly wore her #LwiththeT shirt at Pride, and the team sport coach with the Rainbow Laces, creating a safe space for young players to come out. But that was not safe to do.
Facing new circumstances, my wife and I realised that the best way to regain this ownership – to be safe, at that moment, in the best way possible – was to support each other. In the very acts of loving each other, we were visible, even if only to each other. Even if she was only one who saw me cooking dinner, finding new shows on Netflix, sorting out paperwork, and being me, it was still impactful.
I realised something important during that time, something that has helped me a lot over the last few weeks: being visible varies. Visibility does not need to be a big public profile or social media post. Sometimes, in some crucial moments, being visible is simply to be. You are visible simply by existing – and that visibility is worth celebrating.
In whatever form it takes, positive visibility can bring huge benefits. Having visible role models in professional fields, entertainment, sport, politics gives us something to aim for. Knowing that other people have survived the same struggles you’re facing can be empowering.
And being celebrated for who you are is an amazing feeling. But all these benefits can only be accessed if there is safety. That’s why Lesbian Day of Visibility is so crucial this year: whilst we want to enjoy all the benefits of being visible as a community, we must be safe in doing so.
As the world battles Covid-19 and adjusts to the challenges it brings, many of us are finding our traditional ways of being visible impossible.
Prides and other community events have been cancelled. Sports clubs or theatre groups which may usually provide us with friendship and safe space cannot meet in person. University classes are cancelled, ripping many LGBT people from safe living spaces. Many LGBT people are isolating in households where it is unsafe to be themselves.
Visibility takes on a different meaning in these times. Visibility can be writing a blog post. It could also mean reading an article and taking in its points—but it doesn’t have to mean sharing it. Visibility can be checking in with friends.
Visibility can be reaching out to LGBT groups, joining a webinar, participating in online spaces, or accessing aid. It could be leading discussion groups, volunteering in your community, or donating. It could simply be self-care.
Visibility takes many forms. Whatever form it takes for you, your visibility, your pride, and your identity are still valid.
Dorothy Louise Taliaferro “Del” Martin (5 May 1921 – 27 August 2008) and Phyllis Ann Lyon (10 November 1924 – 9 April 2020) were an American lesbian couple known as feminist and gay-rights activists.
Del and Phyllis met in 1950, became lovers in 1952, and moved in together on Valentine’s Day 1953 in an apartment on Castro Street in San Francisco. They had been together for three years when they cofounded the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco in 1955, which became the first social and political organisation for lesbians in the United States.
They were married on 12 February 2004, in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city clerk to begin providing marriage licences to same-sex couples, but that marriage was voided by the California Supreme Court on 12 August 2004.
They married again on 16 June 2008, in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court’s new decision legalised same-sex marriage in California. Two months later on 27 August 2008, Del died from complications of an arm bone fracture; Phyllis died on 9 April 2020.
National Coming Out Day is celebrated on 11 October each year. It is growing and becoming more well known every single year.
National Coming Out Day is a time for those in the LGBT community to finally be open about who they are to their friends, family and the world!
This day was actually founded way back in 1988 and since then it has hit the world by storm. Being out and proud as a lesbian person, a bisexual person, a gay person or a trans person is such a liberation and is sure to completely transform your life for the better.
There is no question that homophobia and ignorance builds on silence so it is time to end that silence. Being proud of who you are will make you happier within yourself. Research has shown that if somebody knows somebody who is part of the LGBT community, they are much less likely to be homophobic.
‘Coming out’ basically means expressing your sexuality to the world in order to end the stigma and this is exactly what National Coming Out Day is all about. Get out of that closet and do it proudly on this special day of the year.
The King Lear Prizes is the national creative arts competition for older people stuck at home because of corona virus.
There were over 2,000 entries in the short story category. Patrick, a member of Out In The City submitted his story “No Turning Back”. The judging team was particularly impressed and regarded his story as Highly Commended.
Here is an extract from “No Turning Back”:
As, increasingly nervously, I approached the side entrance to the bar, I had to make a decision: either go in, or turn around and go home, never to return! I could tell that it was very busy from the general hubbub of voices and music that ‘escaped’ whenever someone entered or left. The security guy on the door nodded at me and stood to one side, assuming that I was going in. My mind was made up: I returned his nod and stepped through the door into a gay bar for the first time in my life!
What I saw took my breath away: the bar was packed with gay guys of all shapes, sizes and ages! To my right was a group of men, all dressed from head to foot in black leather, a sight which particularly attracted my attention (a sign of things to come!). I breathed in the atmosphere and thought: this is where I belong, what I have craved for these past few weeks!
Still feeling rather unsure about what I was doing here, or what to do next, I quickly eased my way through the crowd, and was immediately served by a rather young, but very attractive and welcoming barman. I ordered half a lager (as I was driving) and quickly returned to a place near the exit, in case I changed my mind about what I was doing and just turned and fled!
Within a couple of minutes, a handsome, older guy had sidled up to me, almost unnoticed: “First time is it dearie?” he asked.
“Yes”, I replied nervously. “Is it that obvious?”
He nodded and asked me my name.
“Patrick”, I answered.
“I’m Alan, but you can call me Gloria”, he responded.
But before I could react to this, unexpectedly, and to my intense embarrassment, he clapped loudly, and shouted, “Quiet everybody! We have a new girl on the block, and her name is Patricia.”
This announcement was followed by a round of applause, accompanied by many thumbs up and welcoming glances in my direction.
My cheeks flushed, and, turning to Alan, I stuttered, “But my name is Patrick!”
“From now on dearie, you are Patricia whenever you come in here. Come on, let me introduce you properly to the bar staff and some of my friends.”
He grasped my hand gently, and guided me back to the bar, where he introduced me to a couple of the staff, who, to my horror, he named Enid and Patsy!
My head spun: was this the world that I had dreamed about being a part of?
(Editor’s note: I loved this extract from Patrick’s story, and hope there will be more instalments).
The LGBT Foundation have released a new report “Housing, Ageing, and Care: What Manchester’s LGBT communities want from the UK’s first purpose-built LGBT Extra Care Scheme”.
Extra care housing is specialist housing designed for older people. It is similar to sheltered housing but also offers help with personal care and household chores.
To ensure that the voices of the communities were at the centre of the planning for the scheme, LGBT Foundation launched a survey asking people about their current finances, their housing situation, their care needs and their thoughts on what an LGBT Extra Care Scheme would look like.
It revealed a stark picture in terms of income levels and people’s ability to plan and pay for future care, showing:
- 62% had less than £10,000 saved, including 28% who have no savings;
- 66% had a pension value of less than £20,000 per year;
- 43% didn’t know where they would get care and support in the future; and
- 74% didn’t know how they would pay for future care and support.
There was also a positive response to the provision of the new LGBT Extra Care Scheme in Manchester, and significant support for housing and social care options that was reflective of, and responsive to people’s LGBT identities:
- 50% said that if they moved into an LGBT Extra Care Scheme they would prefer if it was delivered by an LGBT-specific provider;
- 74% were interested in moving into an LGBT Extra Care Scheme in the future; and
- 51% would not be comfortable in retirement housing without specific LGBT considerations.
Bob Green, Housing Consultant working with LGBT Foundation on the LGBT Extra Care Scheme said:
“For decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities in the UK have looked enviously at other countries, such as Australia, Germany, Sweden and the USA, where LGBT specific housing projects existed for older people.
The generations who fought for our LGBT rights in decades past may find themselves isolated and fearful of the future, dreaming of a housing scheme where they could live out the rest of their lives with others from their family of choice, where they did not have to hide their identity for fear of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.
This report reveals the different experiences within LGBT communities and what LGBT people want from the Extra Care Scheme and other services in the city. It also reveals the overwhelming delight that the dream of LGBT-affirmative extra care housing may soon be a reality.”
To find out more information about the report, or to be kept up to date with LGBT Foundation’s work in this area, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The full report can be downloaded here