When Sapphics Attack Each Other Over Labels (the "bi lesbian" discourse)

It's something that consistently bothers me - how members of the LGBTQ+ community are so quick to attack each other over labels being used to describe queer identities.
 
Recently, discourse broke out on Twitter over whether the term "bi lesbian" is a valid sexuality, and it's something that still makes frequent trips to my timeline. It's a term that's mostly being used to describe experiences of biromantic homosexuals or homoromantic bisexuals. I understand why people - especially lesbians - have had an upset reaction towards this. "Bi lesbian" appears to be a contradiction within itself, and to see it used is angering for some lesbians who repeatedly have to deal with people questioning their lesbianism, and telling them crap such as "you just haven't met the right man yet". It's upsetting and triggering, and the frustrations are valid. I sympathise with the urge to keep the word "lesbian" away from anyone who says they're attracted to men.

However, what's also upsetting is seeing this anger get taken out on fellow Sapphics who are simply trying to express themselves, and are certainly not wanting to hurt anyone. Figuring out your sexuality is hard and confusing enough without having to deal with hate from the community that's supposed to be there for you. I'm bi, but as someone whose experiences are primarily Sapphic, many people have questioned the validity of my bisexuality - myself included. In the past, I've tried out various labels to see what fits best and I empathise with anyone who's going through the same thing.

Communities are important. I've truly appreciated the times I've been surrounded by fellow bi+ people, and I'm sure lesbians value spaces that are just for them as well. However, as a Sapphic woman, I've also always appreciated the wider wlw (women loving women) community, since so many of our experiences overlap. In regard to labels, I hold the general view that people should be free to identify however they wish to, in the ways that make sense for them, however I don't write this with a strong opinion on the term "bi lesbian" in mind. Talking is important, and these conversations should be had. What bothers me is that when I have seen these conversations take place, they've been so lacking in basic compassion. Social media allows us to connect with people in wonderful ways, but it also enables us to completely disconnect a tweet from the person who's written it. It seems that sometimes people forget they're talking to a real person, as they aggressively write out an opinion which tells a teenager who's just come out to themselves: "What you're saying you are is wrong. You're not allowed to identify that way."

As Sapphics, we should be educating and lifting each other up, not bringing down members of our own community. Twitter can be an amazing place in which the LGBTQ+ community comes together, but it can also be filled with unfortunate toxicity. I expect arguments to occur between people who have completely opposing views but when it comes to our own community, I think we need to gain more perspective on what truly matters. To me, what's important is that all LGBTQ+ people feel safe and know their worth. I feel protective over fellow Sapphics and what they don't need is to be attacked. People outside our community do enough of that already.

Your voice is valid, and I don't overlook the importance of having these discussions. Just please remember that we're all people with feelings, and we're all doing our best to figure things out. We all deserve kindness.




 Image credit: Jiroe (@iamjiroe) on Unsplash.


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