Gretchen* shared this story of her experience of Everyday Lesbophobia.
My partner and I were having a pint and a cigarette, sitting outside my local pub in South London. A man approaches us and asks if we are lesbians. I question why he is asking this, and why it would matter if we were. He says “Go on, admit it. There’s no need to be embarrassed” to which I reply, that I don’t know him, and that it is a fairly personal question to open with. He launches into an (I am sure, entirely fictitious, and certainly unsolicited) anecdote about some lesbians who he met in Brighton, who had invited him back to their place to watch them have sex. I laugh in his face and marvel sarcastically at what a lucky guy he was on that occasion. At this point, my partner had just finished her pint and suggests we leave. I agree, and as we walk away, he shouts “come on it’s only a bit of fun”. I felt livid, but felt that if I had pointed out his dual sexism and homophobia I wouldn’t be listened to. So I laughed at his lack of touch with reality and opportunism and walked away.
*names were changed.
I was at a family funeral this week. After the burial, we headed to a nearby pub for a cup of tea and to share stories. A relative, who I hadn’t seen since my wedding, sat down at the same table. “How is your, erm, your…wife?” he asked. “Why did you say it like that?” I asked. “Well, I don’t know what you call each other. Wife, husband, whatever.” Everyone else at the table looked really uncomfortable by now. “Wife is fine,” I said. Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get more awkward, he said: “So which one’s the man?”
My wife and I were waiting on a train in London on Saturday evening. It was quite busy so we walked down to the far end where there wasn’t anyone waiting, apart from a young man in his mid-twenties. We walked past him and sat on the chairs about 15 metres away. I hadn’t paid much attention to him, but I noticed my wife seemed uncomfortable so I asked if she was okay. “Yeah, that’s guy is just a bit weird” she said, keeping her eyes on the ground. It was then I looked at him and realised he’d been staring at us for a good couple of minutes. I enjoy a good stare as much as the next person, but when you catch their eye it’s only polite to look away. This guy kept staring, his mouth in a little shocked ‘O’ shape. We weren’t holding hands, we weren’t kissing, we hadn’t even been talking about anything salacious. We were just waiting for a train. I maintained eye contact for a little while, then I saw the train before ours pull up to the platform and stop just short of where this man was standing. He was so busy staring he didn’t even notice, until the doors made that beep beep beep sound that they do when they’re about to close. It was then he turned around quickly and ran to get on, almost getting his jacket caught in the doors. I couldn’t resist a little smile.
Posted by DIVA with permission from Anonymous:
“Lesbophobia doesn’t always come in the form of physical or verbal abuse – sometimes it’s so well disguised you hardly notice it. When I was at primary school, my parents were friends with a couple who had two children similar in age to me and my brother. The two families very close for a while, living in each others pockets, and my brother and I spent a lot of time with these kids. When we moved away from the area, we lost contact. Our parents reconnected years later and I’ve seen them a handful of times, but I hadn’t seen their son for 15 years, until this week. The first thing he said when he saw me? Not how have you been or long time no see but instead: “You massive lesbian”. I know he didn’t mean any harm, but it really struck me that for him, my sexuality was so significant he couldn’t help but make a big deal about it. That evening, as I was leaving, he took my number and invited me for a drink sometime with him and his girlfriend. “You’ll want to shag her” he joked, because obviously being a lesbian means I fancy everyone with a vagina.”
Posted by DIVA with permission from GM: “I was out with my girlfriends in a straight bar. We were having a nice time. Only for the drunk, attractive, man of around 30 dancing around us all. He hit on a girl with a girlfriend. Instead of taking it on the chin, the guy was more encouraged at the realisation that we were a group of gay women. My partner grabbed my hand and pulled me closer for a dance, for me to hear over my shoulder “oh yeah, I like that, yeah”. I reacted by telling him to sod off, which he did, but only to bother another couple near me. Eventually, our entire group had to leave because of his incessant harassment. *sigh*”
Posted by DIVA with permission fro LW: People in the street, most often young adolescent males, sometimes children, yelling “lesbiaaaaaaans!” From across the street, out of car windows etc when they see me and my girlfriend holding hands. What is this, say what u see day?? Or are they yelling this as an insult? Or are they so excited they just can’t contain themselves? I will never understand it. It is upsetting as it singles us out as something to be gawked at.
From AN, posted by DIVA with permission.
“In a discussion tonight about parenting, it was suggested that maybe I have an “unnatural hormone imbalance” which causes me to not have an overwhelming desire to have a child like “most normal” women do and it is also perhaps the root of my being “repulsed by men”.
Trying to demonstrate how accepting they are of my sexuality, a member of my family said today “I don’t treat you like a lesbian, I treat you like a NORMAL person.”
A man was chatting to me in a bar and began to imply that he was interested in me to which I said I was a lesbian. He said “Oh, I haven’t got a problem with that; what’s every man’s biggest fantasy? Lesbians!” – as if my sexuality was acceptable on the basis that men could still get off on it despite the fact that I’d explicitly told him I wasn’t interested.
On my first day of uni I gave someone the directions they asked for and someone in the group said I was probably good at map reading because of my “high testosterone levels” caused by “the way you are”.
Someone asked me what the book I was reading was about (The Well Of Loneliness) and I said “it’s about a lesbian woman named Stephen…” to which she interjected “oh, of course it is!” as if to imply that my reading literature with lesbian themes was me ‘going on about it’.
I went to see my boss about racist language that I’d heard spoken in the work place and after criticising ‘political correctness’ and making a lengthy case in defence of the behaviour she said “well you’re just a radical, you’d probably be offended if I called you a lesbo!” – drawing upon my sexuality to suggest that my opinions are extreme and unreasonable.
I think EL is a great idea. I’ve been trying to form a coherent argument about the ways that homophobia and sexism intersect uniquely in the experiences of lesbians for a while and I feel like EL hits the nail on the head! Thanks!