October 8 is International Lesbian Day

Tamarack Verrall
Posted October 8, 2019 from Canada
breaking the rules
Breaking the rules. Opening paths.

Why celebrate International Lesbian Day? Here are some reasons, beginning with:

Honouring the life and death of Monica Briones

A creative and different woman," titled a magazine of the time with a small profile of the artist. There she confessed, probably to an insistent journalist: "I have not married because it would take time from my art.”

from an online site I depend on for news.

Today, October 8 is International Lesbian Day. Some say April 26. A day little known but important to those of us who are lesbians. You might say, “Oh no, not another ‘Day’”. But as women, and as lesbians who live openly in defiance of the messages we are given as girls, told that women must not live independently of men, that women must not love each other too deeply, this is a day which I felt important to write about this year here on World Pulse. Defending the rights of women to live freely. What have we been taught about women who live and love as independently as lesbians do? Are we aware of and including the violence, psychological, economical, sexual, imprisoning and murderous acts specifically toward women who are lesbians? Or thought to be lesbians for breaking some rule of dress or behaviour? 

Earlier I wrote with trepidation here on World Pulse of my being an “out” lesbian activist. “Out” meaning "out of the closet", not willing to hide, not wanting to work for every woman’s freedom without including my own, and that of my lesbian sisters. I wrote with trepidation as this global movement for women’s rights means everything to me, yet I know too that many do not understand or include lesbians, seeing us more as "wrong", as a “too extreme” embarrassment. Being “out” for a lesbian always carries risks. We insist on our independence. We are punished for breaking the rules. We are ostracized for being too radical. But writing as my lesbian self here on World Pulse I was warmly and respectfully understood and I knew that I had, as I had hoped, joined this global movement that includes me, and my lesbian sisters. My original story: https://www.worldpulse.com/voices-rising/stories/coming-out-my-global-si.... Some of us knew from when we were children. Some from teenage years, young adulthood, some in old age.

This year, through private online groups where we share information with each other safely, as we do here  within our cherished World Pulse, I want to share this news. This is the news we have on our shoulders, news that tears my heart, news that needs to be part of the list of changes we are working for together. 

In many countries, being anything other than heterosexual is punishable by death. These include Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, parts of Nigeria, parts of Somalia, parts of Syria and parts of Iraq. In many more countries, bans are in place to prohibit 'propaganda' interpreted as promoting LGBTQI2S communities. These include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lithuania and Russia.

This is not a full list, but it brings forward what we are up against. It is a list of violence toward all under the LGBTQI2S umbrella, but today I want to focus on lesbians. We are not safe even in countries that have changed laws. As lesbians and as women, we grow up under the specific rules, regulations and cultural assumptions demanded of girls and women, and we suffer the consequences when we are visibly women who break these rules. Here are the lesbians on my mind today as I write. Monica Briones, I quoted at the start, because she was murdered for being a lesbian. A young woman and gifted artist, Chilean, murdered by a man in the street yelling at her for being a lesbian. Two lesbians in Bolivia, yelled at by the bus driver for holding hands. A talented lesbian DJ killed at 19 in Brazil. Two killed attending a Pride march in the Netherlands, another couple attacked recently there in the street. In the US a couple kicked out of an Uber and another couple kicked out of their church. A young lesbian recently brutally murdered in Atlanta, US. A couple thrown out of a bar, threatened and exposed to, and a young lesbian couple sought safety from a father, in India. A young lesbian abducted and beaten in Brazil. Assaulted on a bus in Germany. Many have suffered “Corrective Rape” in South Africa and other countries. A couple attacked in Argentina. Forced into “Conversion Therapy” in Chile, and also the US. Two young lesbians attacked on a train in Britain. Poland has set up “LGBT Free Zones”. A lesbian murdered in St Petersburg Russia, many more subjected to death threats. Many stories other countries, and from Canada as well.

As lesbians, known to be or not, we have been at the forefront of human rights movements for many years. Activism is in our bones as we face threats, prejudices and violence for standing visibly as women who believe in the right of women to choose the path of our own lives, to be economically independent, to have or not have children, to be respected, to be heard. We know that this right to independence and respect is a right recently lost in the scheme of time, that we threaten patriarchy by speaking about this, that we have researched history and know that this era of patriarchal control is relatively new, as recent as 10,000 years, and that the male domination we are working to end has not always been in control, nor is it today, in many cultures. Governments, legal systems, individual men and gangs of men are determined to punish us as independent women. We live visibly in defiance of male domination. With the list of all we need to change, let’s make sure that lesbians are part of who we are working for, for basic Human Rights. We are already here in this women's movement. Our freedom is tied implicitly with the freedom of all women. Today is October 8. In memory of all who have died, in a call of connection with all who have been injured, discriminated against, denied work, correctively raped, and who continue to be strong beautiful sisters, let's celebrate International Lesbian Day together.

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 26

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Anita Shrestha
Oct 08
Oct 08

Dear
Thank you for reminding us about this day.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 08
Oct 08

Thanks Anita, I appreciate your message.

Tarke Edith
Oct 08
Oct 08

Hello Tam
Thanks for sharing this with on behalf of lesbians couples.
Who are celebrating their day today.
Accept greetings from me dear

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Thanks Edith, for sending your greetings. much appreciated.

Jill Langhus
Oct 09
Oct 09

Hello Dearest Tam,

You are such a trailblazer. I love that you are an activist for lesbianism. I always wonder why it looks like lesbian rights look almost forgotten to me in comparison to all the progress that seems to be made for gay men. It just doesn't seem right, and of course it isn't:-( If I was in your shoes, I would be doing the same thing. So much work, awareness, protection, and security seems to need to be done, globally. My brain just can't fathom why it's anybody's business how someone is inclined sexually, one way or the other. What difference does it make? Why does it make people so angry and hateful, for some? What a complete waste of time and energy. What if everyone just stayed focused on being a good person, focused on their lives and their affairs. Unless there is something going on that directly affects someone negatively, like noise pollution, air pollution, climate change, a brawl, etc., then it's no one's business. Same goes for reproductive rights. No one's business but a person's own. The thinking that we're better than someone else needs to stop.

I know you will keep being your strong, powerful, unstoppable you, so I don't need to say keep at it...ha:-) I love your tenacity, drive and equitability, if that's the suitable term I'm looking for. You, like I, believe in fairness and justice for all, I think:-)

Hope you're doing well, and having a great day and week, dear!

XX

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Dear Jill,
Thank you for the solid support and understanding of why all of the ways that we are silenced, and all of the ways that women are told what to do need to be challenged. Your beautiful words as always lift me and give me extra steam to continue. Encouraging really works!

Jill Langhus
Oct 13
Oct 13

Hello Dear:-)

You're very welcome! Great to hear, and it's my pleasure to be there for you:-)

Hope you have a great week!

XX

Dawn Arteaga
Oct 09
Oct 09

YAY FOR LESBIANS!! A group of people so deserving of more than just one day of celebration for your courage, centered on LOVE and dignity! Celebrating you today and always Tam!

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Thanks so much dear Dawn. Your support and understanding mean a lot, and add to the solid support I always feel from the Team.

Dawn Arteaga
Oct 09
Oct 09

also I love that photo OH SO MUCH!! You are a trailblazer in every sense of the word. SO much love to you

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Thank you! There is a wonderful feeling experiencing a machine that is seen to belong to men. Driving a tractor and farming with big equipment feeds the soul and gives time for deep thinking.

Krizelle Manzano
Oct 09
Oct 09

Tam, thank you for your visibility—which takes courage day in and day out. So proud to celebrate you and lesbians everywhere yesterday for International Lesbian Day.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Dear Krizelle,
Your words mean so much to me. It is so important to be understood and I so appreciate being accepted for who I am and for why I felt it important to write.

Hello, Tam,

A belated Happy International Lesbian Day! I didn't know this day existed. Thank you for informing us about it. How tragic that lesbians are being murdered, injured, discriminated, denied work, raped. How heartless can this world be.

I just want to share my "did you know story" since you are generous with your "did you knows". During the time when my family and I faced our strongest typhoon experience in 2017, when we were advised to evacuate due to a possibility of storm surge, we sought refuge to the lovely home of a lesbian couple. They welcome us, fed us great food, and gave us their room as our accommodation while they stayed in the guest room. It was one of the kindest gestures we experienced. Amazing, right?

Hugs to you, dear Tam. :) We love you.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Dear Karen,
Thank you for your words of understanding why I felt it important to write. I absolutely love knowing that you were brought into the home of two lesbians in the storm emergency. So often our generosity goes unknown as it is so rarely safe for us to be "out". How great that you were able to stay safe together. I am sure they will never forget meeting you, too!

You're welcome, Tam. Please continue to write your stories.

Thank you, too, Tam. I don't know a lot of lesbians growing up. Perhaps they are still afraid to be "out". The gay community is thriving well in our country, though.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

Yes, the majority are still wary of being "out". Too much danger, too many misinterpretations and judgements, too many repercussions. Thank you for being so strongly by my side, always.

Society made is harsh to women that even being "out" is more difficult for women than for men. You're welcome, Tam. We love you!

Meseret Haileyesus
Oct 10
Oct 10

What a wonderful article!! We really advocate and teach our community. , Thank you Tam for sharing ! Xo

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 10
Oct 10

My dear sister,
Your support means a lot. I am so glad we live close, and look forward to our next chance to meet.

rebecca2019
Oct 11
Oct 11

Hello Tam
Thanks for sharing this with on behalf of lesbians couples.
Who are celebrating their day today.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 22
Oct 22

Thanks for your message of support. I appreciate your sending it. For couples and for single women who have chosen not to marry men and refuse to hide their love for women.

ANJ ANA
Oct 15
Oct 15

Dear Tam,
Thank you for sharing an important issue. It's a pity that people forget human rights time and again.
Why someone suffers for being true to oneself..... why and who allowed judging on the basis of the sexuality... its purely and straight forward the human right. everyone has equal rights to live with dignity and security. I wholeheartedly condemn the exploitation and violence happening on the basis of sexuality.
Keep sharing your thoughts, dear Tam. Love is love. May all 365 days are safe and secure and celebrate every day as happy as 8 October.
Happy International Lesbian day (Belated),
anjana

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 22
Oct 22

Dear Anjana,
Thank you for your message of strong support. I really appreciate your understanding of its significance and how this freedom is connected to all freedom of human rights.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Hi Tam,
Hope you are well. Thank you so much for sharing about this day. I for one didnt know that it existed. Am glad that there is a day that not only recognizes lesbians but women who are different in their own right.
Thanks and have a lovely day

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 22
Oct 22

Hi Anita,
It gives me strength and hope when I read such support that understands the interconnection of all of the ways that women are stepping into the lives we choose and working for so many freedoms together.