Over the last few years, it has become abundantly clear that the GLBT Movement is more interested in preserving the status quo of American Society, so long as gays, lesbians and transgender people can participate. We seek access to marriage, the most fundamental of patriarchy’s mechanisms that ensures the servitude of females to males. We support hate crimes legislation, thus propping up a criminal justice system that disproportionately negatively impacts females and people of color.
These things are fine, I suppose. “Equality” is useful, as far as it goes. But for lesbians, the Females of the community alphabet soup, we have noticed that our needs and our voices have been erased in this push for “everything is everything” equality. Recently, Corey Reidy, speaking at the Mobilizing and Organizing from Below conference, told the audience that she identified as “Queer,” not “Lesbian,” because of the negative connotations the word “Lesbian” has.
This is a regular theme with twenty-something “queers.” The word “Lesbian” is not “inclusive” enough for the GLBT Movement, because the existence and desires of Lesbians “erases” Trans women, who are male. Not one of these twenty-somethings expresses concern, however, for the wholesale decimation and erasure of Lesbians and Lesbian culture. Because catering to men it what women do!
This is what misogyny looks like in the GLBT Movement – and Lesbians have been complicit in our own demise. Stemming from a well-intentioned desire to be “good allies,” Lesbians have painted themselves into a corner from which we cannot escape.
This lack of respect for Lesbian spaces and Lesbian culture gets played out over and over, every day – every time a Lesbian feels compelled to justify her existence, her sexual attractions for other females, her need for female only space.
This is what Lesbian Annihilation looks like.
The funny – and by funny I mean deeply sad – thing about the twenty-somethings is their fetishization of 90s Dyke Culture. In the fall of last year, another twenty-something Baltimore person gave a talk at Red Emma’s about the New York (!!) Lesbian Avengers and how radical and awesome they were.
Lesbian Avengers. Key word here is Lesbian.
Inspired by that window into the past – which, incidentally, did not focus at all on Baltimore rich Lesbian activist history – the twenty-somethings decided to plan a Dyke March. However, this year’s Pride does not have a Dyke March – in no small part the planners did not want to offend Trans and “Queer” people by making holding a march for Lesbians.
I suggested to them that perhaps they would have more success holding a Dykeless March, but I don’t think they got the joke. And by joke, I mean I am fed up.
How do we restore what has been lost, Dykes? How do we return to a place where Females under the Rainbow Flag don’t have to pretend that having a vagina makes us oppressors of Trans women? How do we as a united community realize that our strengths lie in respecting and celebrating our differences, not by pretending that they don’t exist?
I honestly think it’s too late.
Lesbians don’t have Pride in being Lesbian anymore. Lesbians have shame. Lesbians apologize for not liking penis. Lesbians silently cringe when the Queers in our movement talk about Lesbians as dowdy, old, boring, sexless dinosaurs. Ironically, the things that are Lesbian have been reclaimed and appropriated by a younger generation of Queers who did none of the hard work it took us as a GLBT Community to get where we are today.
An interesting, somewhat related development has been the Gay Shame Movement, which opposes the mainstreaming of Gay culture and the GLBT Movement’s focus on mainstream goals such as marriage equality. This effort is necessary, but insufficient for preserving Lesbian culture, as it has the same underground mainstream emphasis on all things Queer.
I have no hope that anyone will join me, but as a Baltimore Lesbian Avenger, I embrace Lesbian Rage as the only way forward. I will not go gently into that Good Night of post-modern bullshit that denies the reality of Female existence.
As a Lesbian, I am angry that the other letters in our alphabet don’t respect Female desires, needs and space. I am angry that misogyny in the Community seems to be at an all-time high, with Trans Academics displaying no desire to call it out. I am angry that a generation of Lesbians face inordinate pressure to transition because that is the only way they can be celebrated and loved in this Community. I am angry that Lesbians still must justify our lack of desire for penis – but this time, we argue not with Right Wingers, but with Trans Women and their “helpful” allies.
Lesbian Rage. Embrace it. Live it. Love it. We’ve earned it.
P.S. HAPPY “PRIDE”
Originally appeared in Baltimore Outloud
Friday, June 15, 2012