Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was lesbian visibility week until it was too late. I was traveling for part of that time and didn’t devote enough attention to the week. I also missed the deadline to submit my books for Jae’s 100 books with lesbian main characters, even though every single book I’ve written contains lesbian main characters. Write what you know, they say! For the most part, all those characters were out and proud lesbians, with only a few in the closet or married/almost married to men before they found their true love. Because I nearly missed the chance to comment or post on this historic week, I thought it only fair I do a whole blog on historic moments in lesbian history. So…I did some research, of course, and learned a few things.
First, I’ve always wondered why the “L” in LGBTQIA+ is the first letter. At the beginning of the gay rights movement, lesbians and transpersons of both genders were not the focus. Gay men dominated the movement. The original order fluctuated between GLBT and LGBT. Eventually, as new representations came about, it changed to either LGBTQ+ or LGBTQIA+, as queer, intersex, and asexual were added. Despite the movement professing inclusiveness, there were inherent pockets of sexism. Lesbians had very few spaces to call their own, unlike gay men who dominated the bars. Lesbians were also historically, compared to gay men, underrepresented in the media, although the media did not do a great job with men either, creating stereotypical caricatures. The push to change the order came with the onset of feminist ideas in the 80s and 90s, along with the solidarity borne from the AIDS crisis. Ultimately, it was a matter of respect and recognition of those feminist ideals that helped lesbians earn the top spot in the order.
I came across this great article about historical moments in lesbian history and want to share the top ten moments from the article:
- The first conviction for “lewd behavior with each other upon a bed” occurred between Sarah White Norman and Mary Vincent Hammon in 1649 in Plymouth, Massachusetts (although Hammon was only 16 and not prosecuted, only charged).
- The first lesbian marriage was between Anne Lister (Gentlemen Jack fame) and Ann Walker at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York in 1834. Not legal, of course, but they considered it a real marriage.
- The first documented use of “lesbianism” to describe erotic relationships between women appeared in 1732 in a book by William King called, The Toast. Prior to that, apparently, the word lesbian did not explicitly refer to a sexual relationship but rather a derivative “of lesbos”, undoubtedly originating from the Isle of Lesbos, where the Greek poet Sappho lived.
- In 1890, the term lesbian was first used in a medical dictionary to describe tribadism (as “lesbian love”) The terms lesbian, invert, and homosexual were interchangeable with sapphist and sapphism starting around the turn of the 20th century.
- Singer Ma Rainey, known as the Mother of the Blues, was arrested in 1925 for having a lesbian party. Bessie Smith bailed her out of jail. Both were part of an exclusive group of lesbians and bisexual women in Harlem.
- The groundbreaking novel, The Well of Loneliness, written by Radcliffe Hall, was written in 1928. I’ve yet to read this book…I know…bad lesbian, but since I know the book has such a depressing ending, I just can’t make myself read it.
- In September 1955, Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was formed. It is recognized as the first lesbian rights organization in the United States. The organization hosted private social functions until it was dissolved in 1995. In the early days, lesbian bars and clubs were often raided, so this San Fransisco organization provided this alternative to women.
- Unbelievably the first lesbian kiss did not occur until 1990 in an episode of 21 Jump Street, but since the camera cut off their actual lips, it wasn’t actually shown. Thus, technically the first kiss was recognized in a 1991 episode L.A. Law, where bisexual lawyer C.J. briefly kisses her colleague Abby Perkins on the lips.
- Audre Lorde, a self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” became the State Poet of New York in 1991.
- In April 1997, comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine, at the same time she came out on her series, Ellen. While she wasn’t the first lesbian character on a major network, that honor goes to Kate McBride, a recurring character in Hill Street Blues in 1986, Ellen was the first main character to come out.
Want to read about lesbians at the tail end of Lesbian Visibility Week…take your pick… any one of my books that you pick up will have lesbians. Simply click one of the links below. An especially fun book that just won in the Paranormal category and was a runner-up in the Fiction category is, Georgetown Glen: Queermunity Living at Its Finest. Also, for those who have eagerly been awaiting the next in the San Diego series, your wait is almost over, Politics of Love will be released worldwide on May 1st, and the audible will be available soon! All the files have been submitted, awaiting Amazon’s blessing!
Now is Audio ! Audio links: Audible in US
Amazon Germany Book 4 in the Trophy Wives Club Series
Links to the Books in Audible:
Undercover Love Sculpting Her Heart Locked Inside Artist Free Zone
Proud to be an Affinity Rainbow Publications author!