Lesbian Visibility – Why is BBGay+ celebrating lesbians, queer women and non-binary people this week?
In case you missed it, Monday 24 April to Sunday 30 April 2023 is Lesbian Visibility week and 26 April 2023 (TODAY!) is Lesbian Visibility Day. Today we celebrate lesbians and show solidarity with queer women and non-binary people in our communities. During this week, we come together to celebrate and commemorate the achievements of a group of people which has for so long been marginalised.
Lesbian visibility is not just about being seen – it is about being seen in places and spaces where lesbians haven’t ordinarily been able to occupy and being safe in that visibility, with the aim of empowerment and liberation.
Why is lesbian visibility so important?
Lesbian visibility week is the only national campaign and event targeted at Lesbians. They are an essential component of the queer community, but (of course) they are a group within themselves that need celebrating.
Increasingly employers are waking up to the need for all of their staff to feel confident to be themselves. Importantly however, many lesbians still do not feel safe expressing their sexuality or are often encouraged to suppress their queerness in the workplace. Lesbophobia exists and rears its ugly head less often in mainstream news – in 2019, there was a shocking story in the press when a lesbian couple were attacked on a London bus for refusing to kiss in front of young men.
For many lesbians, whether in the workplace or in their day-to-day life this violence is a real threat. Many lesbians and queer women have experienced the prejudice behind this attack – often a specific mix of misogyny and homophobia. There is still a huge amount of rigid stereotyping of lesbians who are often made to feel that their affection for their partners exist for the pleasure of men. This is not the case for heterosexual couples.
There are often preconceived ideas of what a lesbian should look or dress like. This means that lesbians who look “traditionally feminine” (whatever that means?) are less easily recognised as gay and people don’t realise until they start holding their partner’s hand or displaying affection publicly. Lesbians are like all other women – varied and unique. Visibly celebrating this as a group helps demonstrate this.
Queer Visibility in the Workplace
Recent ONS statistics show that more young people are likely to identify as queer – this is something to celebrate! In whatever form it takes, positive visibility can bring huge benefits. But these are only accessibly if there is safety in all realms, including the realm of work.
Here at BBK we know first hand how much difference queer visibility can make; our managing Partner Jonathan Wheeler is a champion of this visibility. Jonathan sits on the Law Society Council representing LGBTQI+ members and he is a Stonewall ambassador – talk about visibility!
We like to think that all of our queer staff feel supported, empowered and liberated at work. Bolt Burdon Kemp’s LGBTQI+ network, BBGay+ gives our queer staff and allies the opportunity to meet regularly to socialise, discuss current events and educate themselves and the firm about the LGBTQI+ issues.
The unfortunate reality for a lot of queer people is that they are not in the same position. Their workplace, colleagues, customers and employers are less accepting. Stonewall published a report in April 2018 showing that;
- Almost one in five LGBTQI+ staff have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they are LGBTQI+
- One in ten black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBTQI+ staff have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, compare to three per cent of white LGBTQI+ staff
- One in eight lesbian, gay and bisexual people wouldn’t feel confident reporting any homophobic, lesbophobic or biphobic bullying to their employer
These stats make it clear that work needs to be done – it is vital that employers support the specific needs of each of the LGBTQI+ groups.
At BBK we want to take this time to come together to uplift the L in LGBTQI+. We understand the importance of making sure that Lesbians are included, valued and engaged. We provide all our employees a safe place where everyone can be their true selves, regardless of their gender or sexuality. Internally, BBGay+ regularly discusses the LGBTQI+ experiences, in and out of the workplace, educates and informs allies on the varied experiences of lesbians and other members of the LGBTQI+ community.
This year Stonewall is partnered with DIVA magazine to organise a number of exciting events all being held to celebrate lesbian visibility and show solidarity. For further information or a full schedule of these exciting events – click the link here.