In honor of Lesbian Visibility Day, I have decided to write this statement. Some people have been asking “Why does the LGBTQ+ community make such a fuss? Why do they have to air their dirty laundry in public?” To that I say: I am sorry if you feel uncomfortable with the truth, but LGBTQ+ people, who are more than 10% of the population, are part of the normal range and diversity of human life, behavior, love, and sexuality, and our visibility is vital.
In the past, we LGBTQ+ people had to hide our true nature for fear of public humiliation, family estrangement, loss of jobs, police harassment, incarceration and even excommunication from religious groups. As a result, some of us became alcoholics, drug addicts and even attempted suicide to escape the emotional pain we were in. Some of us married heterosexual partners and tried to live a toxic lie which injured our partners and children as well as ourselves. Many of us chose or were court-ordered to undergo extreme medical treatments such as electroshock and lobotomies at the hands of quack doctors who thought they could change us.
But slowly in the late 1960s and 1970s, LGBTQ+ activists saw that we had to come out of hiding and organize ourselves against the ignorance and oppression of society. To be free of discrimination, homophobia and misunderstanding we had to fight institutional doctrines, traditions, laws and lies that had held us down for so long. After several clashes with police in urban centers, we held demonstrations, parades, conferences, and media events all over the country to educate the public. This also attracted other LGBTQ+ people still hiding in fear to come out and march with us. Small groups of LGBTQ+ activists soon turned into a huge social movement as millions chose visibility.
In the last fifty-plus years millions of LGBTQ+ people have joined our movement and taken the risk to live openly like the rest of society, even exercising our new right to marriage. Such openness has caused a backlash among guardians of traditional society who are still promoting the old myth that we pose a danger to the idea of family, and especially to children. Ultra conservatives have decided (opportunistically, in an election year) that “gay” rights have gone too far. So, currently, we see some states passing laws to ban books and even prohibit any mention of “gay” topics in primary school grades.
The timing of all this in an election year makes me suspect that some conservative politicians are motivated by their desire to frighten voters into voting for the candidates who say they will “protect” children from gay people. This incitement to division and fear is an old conservative trick that we have seen before. But the current furor will also motivate more LGBTQ+ people to come out and organize to promote awareness over ignorance, life over death and love over hate. So please, join us in celebrating Lesbian Visibility and choose to be visible in your community not only today, but every day.
Del Whan, activist and member of ‘Lez Chat’