🌈

Book a Table

Dykes to Watch Out For: Lesbian Day of Visibility 2022

Dykes to Watch Out For: Lesbian Day of Visibility 2022

Dalston Superstore celebrates Lesbian Day of Visibility with six queer trailblazers

This Lesbian Day of Visibility, Dalston Superstore chats to some of the lesbians central to the East London queer scene about representation, community and intersectionality. The issue of visibility with regard to queer women’s experience feels particularly important at a time when a vocal minority of cis lesbians are hijacking and distorting the term ‘lesbian’ and dominating public discourse around trans and non binary identities.
We speak to six lesbians who are not often provided the same public platform to speak on the queer experience: Self-identified queer women, lesbians and dykes. Dykes whose feminism is intersectional, inclusive and radical. Dykes who foster community, platform others, and place care and inclusion at the centre of their politics. Get to know these queer women and non-binary people making queer visibility their mission.

Michelle Manetti, DJ, Produer, Vocalist and Promoter of Fèmmme Fraîche
What makes you proud to be a lesbian?
Running my own FLINTA (female, lesbian, intersexual, non-binary, transgender & a-sexual) focused club night and seeing all the wonderful lesbians and queer womxn, coming together as a community makes me so proud. All the wonderful friendships and close connections I’ve made on the scene with likeminded people – I wouldn’t have that if I wasn’t a lesbian.
Which lesbians / queers gave you permission to be yourself as a young queer?
When I was very young, there were hardly any lesbian icons or celebrities and the few that were publicly out were either quite butch or ‘lipstick lesbians’ and I didn’t really identify with either – I was more emo androgynous or queer soft femme and then Clea Duvall sprung onto our screens and Corky aka Gina Gershin in Bound, and Sandra Bernhard and Sara Gilbert in Roseanne and Angelina Jolie being bisexual and suddenly I felt these were the icons I found most relatable.
What is your relationship to the word ‘lesbian’?
I had my first lesbian relationship at 14 and came out at 18, I’ve identified as a lesbian for so many years, it’s not just a word, it’s a big part of who I am as a person, although I tend to use it interchangeably with ‘queer’ these days, because I feel like lesbian has the connotations that suggest lesbians are cis women that sleep only with other cis women, and while there’s nothing wrong it that, I would say I’m open to multiple genders, so I feel queer is more all-encompassing, but I still very much identify as a lesbian too.
Who are some of your favourite lesbian/queer artists/musicians/performers?
I’m happy to say that there are so many today, Eris Drew and Octo Octa are two of my favourite DJs as well as being a gorge T4T couple, another super power couple I love is Chella Man and MaryV and pretty much all my pals who are queer DJs, Performers and Artists – there are just too many to mention, but they all inspire me daily.

Don One, Drag King, Rapper and host of Man Up
What makes you proud to be a lesbian?
Being part of a community that allows me to celebrate who I truly am and encourages me to embrace my big dyke energy!
Which lesbians/queers gave you permission to be yourself as a young queer?
Nobody gave me permission to be myself as a young black queer person. But I was always obsessed with Grace Jones because she is an androgynous strong black woman who would never take any shit from men. For me, she embodied a unique and queer energy which inspired me.
What is your relationship to the word ‘lesbian’?
Sometimes I describe myself as a lesbian and sometimes I prefer to use the word queer. But ultimately, I feel like being a lesbian is at the very core of who I am. Sadly, I think society and mainly cis het men have made it feel like a dirty word. As a community, I think we need to reclaim it and celebrate what the word means in all its beautiful forms.
What advice would you give your younger queer self?
Don’t be afraid of who you are and whoever you may want to become. Embrace every aspect of your sexuality, your butchness, your queerness, your masculinity, your femininity and know that gender is not binary.

Megan Key, Trans Activist, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, Co-Director of LGBTQ+ community centre.
What makes you proud to be a lesbian?
It just feels natural to me. I spent most of my life trying to figure out who I was – decades – and being a queer lesbian fits. I love women and I’m still exploring, questioning and learning about what it means to be a woman. There is so much debate about gender identity and sexuality and who’s allowed to own labels, I find it fascinating and, at times, challenging. I’m proud that I’m surrounded by people, especially other queer women, that embrace me as one of their own. It still feels revolutionary for me to be loved by cis women as a trans woman and I’m proud to be part of the revolution.
Which lesbians / queers gave you permission to be yourself as a young queer?
Madonna’s Erotica phase, oh my days. I must have watched In Bed With Madonna a hundred times. Whether or not Madonna identifies as queer isn’t important, she platformed queer experiences, feminine sexuality and sexual power. I spent my teens trying to figure out my gender identity and sexuality, I didn’t understand I was trans until I was 20 and let’s be honest there weren’t any trans women who were role models in the 90s, we were the laughing stock on The Jerry Springer show. Some of my inspiration came from genderqueer and gay performers on the New Romantic Scene. My heart is full that younger queer women have some much more positive representation now.
What is your relationship to the word ‘lesbian’?
It’s an interesting point and, in our currently polarised society where identity politics are at the forefront of a burgeoning culture war, it’s fair to say that words mean different things depending on who you talk to. I want to be open to growth, particularly understanding individual lived experiences rather than categorising people. human identity is complex. I consider myself to be a queer lesbian, someone who is attracted to women, particularly femmes, but I won’t draw hard lines on the spectrum because I think it’s counter intuitive. I feel at home being a woman who loves other women and there is wonderful diversity in that.
Why is visibility and representation important? What does increased visibility mean to you?
As a trans woman who is a lesbian, living in this country at a time of heightened transphobia, including attacks from a minority of cis lesbians it is vital to see sisterhood and love, whether that be platonic, romantic or sexual, shared between all women. Trans women exist, we are lovable and I feel profoundly happy to experience life affirming connections with other women.
What advice would you give your younger queer self?
People are going to judge you, get used to it. Toughen up, get the therapy. Not everyone will like you, not everyone will understand you. But you do you anyway, because the right people will love you and together you’ll change the fucking world.

GIN, DJ and Promoter, Resis’dance, Nite Dykez & Faggamuffin
What makes you proud to be a lesbian?
Having grown up in Bermuda and Mexico I was subject to a lot of violence and homophobia, which left me in a state of constant fear and otherness. I came out as a lesbian when I was 15. I specifically remember saying “lesbian”, it rolled off my tongue like butter. I was in an argument I was having with my father about my sexuality, he would often wreak havoc on my self-esteem as he often wished he had a more ‘normal child’. I believe I was proud to be a lesbian then, and I am proud to be a lesbian now 16 years on. It was always about visibility for me, being one of the only young ‘out’ people in Bermuda growing up, but it was also about solidarity. As I stood my ground I found that others also stood theirs and we stood together on a tiny rock in the middle of the Atlantic.
Which lesbians / queers gave you permission to be yourself as a young queer?
At 19 I adopted the writings of Audre Lorde as a constitution for how I wanted to live my life, specifically her essay ‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action’.  Audre Lorde writes, “What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself – a Black woman warrior poet doing my work – come to ask you, are you doing yours?”. Now as a 30-something-year-old, I stand by and will always stand by the identity of a lesbian as it means more to me than the word itself. The words of Audre Lorde carried me as I moved to London and began to really discover myself.
Why is visibility and representation important? What does increased visibility mean to you?
Visibility was the most important aspect of my time in London, as I didn’t get to see that many ‘out’ figures growing up (apart from what you saw on TV and on rental DVDs). I believe I needed to have more visibility and representation of LGBTQ+ people growing up, and didn’t get it, which is why now I am committed to creating spaces I longed for. The acknowledgement that we exist, exist proudly, loudly, adamantly, goes a long way for someone of any age that is out, is just discovering themselves, or is exploring.
I believe in tackling the shame surrounding the ongoing stigma of being LGBTQ+ by creating spaces where we can celebrate and be ourselves without fear of judgement, scrutiny, pain or death. As Audre Lorde said, I am not only a warrior but I am also Black, I am also a Lesbian I am also a woman. And I can exist within all of those spaces without having to explain or justify myself.
Who are some of your favourite lesbian/queer artists/musicians/performers?
Some of my favourite artists are Gladys Bentley, Janelle Monae, Chavela Vargas, Tracy Chapman, Queen Latifah, Syd the Kid, Young M.A., Roxxxane, Char Bailey, the list could go on. I am inspired by all women but I would like to emphasise the importance of Black representation to me, as Black women are always at the crux of the movements that lead to change, that should forever be acknowledged.


Shardeazy Afrodesiak, Drag King and Journalist
What makes you proud to be a lesbian?
Who wouldn’t be wanna be apart of a group of dope AF people within the queer community! There’s a strength and power among us within the queer community and it makes me proud to be a part of that.
Which lesbians / queers gave you permission to be yourself as a young queer?
Seeing my AFAB cousin come out when I was young was probably my first time seeing what it meant to be unapologetically queer, seeing her be her authentic self in a family that really had no exposure to lesbian women or queerness. I think that was powerful and probably indirectly gave me confidence to do the same later down the line.
What is your relationship to the word ‘lesbian’?
I identify as pansexual but am predominantly attracted to women, AFAB and non binary people which I guess is an extension of being a lesbian. As much as the word doesn’t feel like it quite fits my own sexually, I feel that it plays a big role in both my sexuality and who I am as a whole and my fluidity in my sexuality allows that to happen.
Why is visibility and representation important? What does increased visibility mean to you?
Well just in the larger society, women, AFAB, trans and non binary people are marginalised, and representation or the lack of it plays a big role in that. In order to feel real equity within society, representation needs to not only be there but reinforce a positive narrative around us that fall in that bracket.
What advice would you give your younger queer self?
Embrace your inner queer much sooner please. Then you can live your best life and your best self, and not give a shit what cis hetero men think about you, in fact you can just swerve them all together!

India Jaggon-Barrett, Co-Founder and Editor, Rub Magazine

What is your relationship to the word ‘lesbian’?
Compicated. Dyke feels more comfortable and more in line with who I am, however I feel like its important to not let TERFs take full ownership of the word lesbian so I use dyke and lesbian interchangeably. Also some relationships feel more lesbian and some that I have feel more dyke-y, so I guess it fluctuates.
Which lesbians / queers gave you permission to be yourself as a young queer?
Not to sound too doom and gloom, but I never felt like anyone gave me permission. I grew up in a white middle class area surrounded by so much forced compulsory heterosexuality so I felt like every day in my younger teen years I was giving myself permission because there was no representation. I guess when I first watched the Real L Word (A reality TV version of the L word) was the first time I saw lesbian and dyke community being represented by real life lesbians so that was something, however they were mostly white & cis and looked a certain way so I guess that still felt alienating.
Why is visibility and representation important? What does increased visibility mean to you?
Visibility allows us to be able to see ourselves in the world. The earlier question of being given permission to be ourselves happens when we see more people who look like us. I think visibility is also a privilege that we cling onto in the global North. We have to remember that being visible as a lesbian for some means violence and danger. I think as we push for visibility we need to remember those in our community (be it lesbians or otherwise) who don’t get the privilege of heightened visibility without the direct effect of lessened safety.
Who are some of your favourite lesbian/queer artists/musicians/performers?
Barbra Hammer, Catherine Opie, Zanele Muholi, Tracy Chapman, Eileen Myles, Pat Parker, Ma Rainey.
What advice would you give your younger queer self?
Keep being unapologetic, keep flirting with older women, keep wearing triple leather looks -in a few years it will be cool again and there’s a whole community of leather wearing dykes, you’re on to something. One day you will be around other people like you but for now, just keep doing you, kid.

 

post-template-default single single-post postid-28877 single-format-standard tribe-no-js tribe-bar-is-disabled tribe-theme-dalston-superstore loading

Dykes to Watch Out For: Lesbian Day of Visibility 2022

https://dalstonsuperstore.com

https://dalstonsuperstore.com/wp-content/themes/dalston-superstore