Are All Lesbians Sex Mad? The Fight for Lesbians’ Human Rights

Guest post by Susan Hawthorne

There is a misconstruction of sexuality in the mainstream.  It says the only thing lesbians ever think about is sex.  Lesbians are always harping on about our sexual rights.  The thing is that as a lesbian: if you talk about sex, you are sex mad – but you are recognized as a lesbian.  If you talk about climate change or poetry or violence against (heterosexual) women – you are not recognized as a lesbian.  But if you talk about climate change or poetry or violence against (heterosexual) women and make it clear that your analysis is a lesbian analysis – you are sex mad.

How do we, therefore, talk about lesbian human rights and not be pigeon holed as “sex-mad lesbians”?  I think probably there is no easy answer.  Let’s look at some examples of abuses of lesbian human rights and then come back to these questions.  But first, we must look at lesbian sexuality, and how patriarchy specifically oppresses lesbians.

Female-centered sexuality.  The problem is that our oppression is based on our sexuality.  It is a given in patriarchal societies that women not be able to have any freedom around sexual pleasure.  Sexual pleasure (and here I am not speaking about pornography – that is men’s idea) is so totally unthinkable in some instances that the idea of two women deciding to have sex, to have a sexual and emotional relationship is enough to send them straight to hell.  Such women should feel shame.  If they don’t then they are pressured to feel ashamed.  As a result some lesbians commit suicide, including double suicides.  Such women should be called unnatural.  It is obvious that women would only do such a thing if they were desperate, hence the line: All she needs is a good fuck.  And out of that all the above human rights abuses flow: corrective rape; gang rape; torture; forced marriage; forced pregnancy; diagnosis of madness; diagnosis of neglect of children; punishments such as beatings and murder.  And if none of the above works, pull out the camera and turn lesbians into porn stars. Hetrosexualize lesbian sex, and sell it to men.

‘Corrective rape’ and shame.  Rape, torture, silence, shame and hatred all combine so that no one ever hears of the violations of lesbians’ human rights.  It’s invisible; it’s as if it doesn’t exist.  Like lesbians don’t exist.  In late 2010, I received an email about Millicent Gaika, a South African lesbian who had been subjected to ‘corrective rape’ ” on 2 April 2010 by a man she knew.  The image of her bruised face and body as well as her recounting of what had happened to her, created the momentum for a global campaign against ‘corrective rape’.  It’s an abusive term that refers to the rape and battery of lesbians to cure them of lesbian existence.  The man who raped, beat and attempted to strangle Millicent Gaika said this:

I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.

Millicent Gaika is not the first South African lesbian to be attacked in this way.  In 2008, Eudy Simeland, a star of the South African women’s football team, was gang raped and murdered.

In 2009, in an interview Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, Johannesburg, said,

Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I’ll become a girl … When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street.

By March, more than 140,000 people signed the petition to uphold the constitutional rights of lesbians to state protection.  By mid- June this had reached 939,905.  But the list of victims of violence is not new.  So while I am pleased to know that finally these violations are coming to light, it’s been a long wait.

South Africa is the only country in the world to constitutionally protect the rights of people based on sexual orientation.  I think this has been a critical factor in the success of this campaign, although I think it took enormous courage on the part of Millicent Gaika, to present this as a breach of the South African constitution.

How is it possible that violence against lesbians is such a non-headline?  Because, although the Avaaz petition was signed by a lot of individuals around the world, it has not reached metropolitan newspapers.  If you search for Millicent Gaika, the reports mostly come from activists and bloggers.

Is corrective rape a new occurrence? No, it is not. Here are some other documented examples that I have found in the literature over the last almost decade of research:

  • On 8 July 2007, two South African lesbian activists, Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa, were murdered.
  • On September 29, 2004, FannyAnn Eddy a lesbian activist from Sierra Leone was found dead.  She had been working in the offices of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association. A few months before her death she made a plea for protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the UN Commission on Human Rights.
  • In Zimbabwe in the mid-1980s Tina Machida was violated at the instigation of her parents in an effort to ‘cure’ her of her lesbian existence. She writes: “They locked me in a room and brought him every day to rape me so I would fall pregnant and be forced to marry him. They did this to me until I was pregnant.”
  • In 1976 in Chile, Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes was tortured by the Pinochet regime. The torturers imply that her torture is all her fault (not unusual in situations of torture). If only she would do what is best for her, she would not have to suffer. In fact, he, the torturer, will help her by raping her, by showing her what a real man can do for her, how what she needs is ‘a good fuck, from real men’.  The same justification as that given by Millicent Gaika’s rapist.

Linguistic silence and lesbian invisibility.  The problem of invisibility of lesbians in India, for example, is indicated by the omission of the word lesbian from the glossary of an otherwise useful handbook, A Guide to Your Rights: Legal Handbook for Sexual Minorities in India.  The glossary does include bisexual, homosexual and transgender.  I point out, however, that this is not exclusive to Indian organizations, since the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) in the USA in 2005 had precisely the same kind of omission from its list of keywords for conference presentations.  The keyword list included Sexuality, the Body, Identity, Homosexuality and Transgender, but not Lesbian. Many Australian women’s and gay organisations habitually leave out lesbians.  This is about shame.

Like Judas, people and organizations deny their association with lesbians.

What is the relationship between the social and cultural development of women and men and the bodily experiences of women and men?  Lesbians are not only marginalized physically and politically, but also because of a kind of inclusivity that continues to screen out lesbian existence.  I am referring here to the invisibilizing that happens under the rubric of terms such as queer, sexual minorities, LGBTI, transgender, same sex, homosexual, diverse sexualities and non-conforming sexualities.  There is a need to be able to speak about sexuality in broad fora, as suggested by these terms, but there remains the continuing need to highlight the ways in which different sexualities defy the hegemonic ideology.  Lesbians resist the dominant hegemonic position in multiple ways – some of which are specific to lesbians and not LGBTIs who will each have their own specific forms of resistance.  I suggest that marginalization occurs whenever an all-encompassing term is used.

Shame and brittle silence.  At the ‘softer’ end, San Francisco LGBT International Film Festival, Frameline, pulled a short 15 minute science fiction film, The Gendercator, by lesbian filmmaker Catherine Crouch from its film festival program in June 2007 because of the film’s purported ‘transphobic’ content and because the transgender audience said they would boycott the festival if it was shown.  In a petition to the organisers, Lenn Keller, Max Dashu, Joey Brite and Martha Shelley, wrote:

A lesbian voice is being silenced here. In the current climate of fear, we find it necessary to state that critiquing or asking questions about issues affecting our communities should not be confused with judgment or condemnation or, in this case, ‘transphobia’.

Many have complained about the lack of lesbian content in the festival, and Frameline has chosen to silence one of the few voices.

The Gendercator is a science fiction film that tells a satirical futuristic story of the forced gender realignment surgery on butch lesbians.  In this world ‘gender variants are allowed to choose their gender, but they must choose one and follow its rigid constraints’ (Crouch, 2007).  Some among the transgender audience read this as a positive story, but lesbians who do not wish to inhabit any body other than the one they have, feel the violence of such a story.  It resembles the forced marriage of young heterosexual girls in India, the forced pregnancy of lesbians in contemporary Zimbabwe, the corrective rapes in South Africa and transgender operations in Iran.  Crouch continues,

Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.

The withdrawal of The Gendercator was a violation of lesbians’ right to create images of lesbians that reflect our own experience – not as they are presented by individuals, groups or companies outside the lesbian community.  Who will you support?  The Iranians mobilizing operations on the grounds of gender identity disorder, or the lesbians who argue against such medico-centric solutions?

The issue of identity is well put by a Peruvian lesbian (name undisclosed): ‘When I speak of my right to my own culture and language as an indigenous woman, everyone agrees to my self-determination.  But when I speak of my other identity, my lesbian identity, my right to love, to determine my own sexuality, no one wants to listen’.

Indian lesbians face the same problem, as is indicated in the Caleri Report (Campaign for Lesbian Rights).  The word ‘lesbian’ is: ‘…so loaded with fear and embarrassment and prejudice, a word shrouded in silence, a whisper that spoke of an identity that must be hidden from others, that frightening word that dare not cross the threshold’.

Using the word ‘lesbian’ provokes what Indian writer Maya Sharma calls a ‘discourse of catastrophe’ (Sharma 2006: 38).  This is a softer form of the lack of respect for lesbian civil and political rights, but no less damaging than the idea that lesbian existence is a nonsense or the ‘symbolic annihilation’ Hopkins (2008) alludes to in her study of the representation of lesbians on New Zealand television.

Part of that brittle silence is one’s own self-censoring behavior which is particularly evident in cultural settings that are not one’s own.  The silence shifts between ‘personalized silence’ within a social, political and cultural context as well as the self-silencing of the person coming in from outside that context.

Are there any answers?

Consider the question: Who is the human in human rights?

When the phrase ‘human rights’ is used, what image comes to your mind?  For each of us it is probably different, but think of the campaigns you have seen.  In my lifetime I have seen photographs used in many campaigns including images of Tibetan monks, men tortured in prisons from South America to the Middle East, Asian girls, young African men, refugee mothers with children in the Sudan and the Balkans – and others.  On rare occasions, I have seen a gay man.  Except for the campaign in support of Millicent Gaika successful campaigns focused on lesbian human rights are as rare as hen’s teeth.  Indeed at times human rights appear so male focused that many have asked, ‘Are women’s rights human rights?’ Lesbians face at least double, and frequently multiple, barriers to their rights being considered human rights.

Here are some suggestions as to what can be done:

Use the word lesbian often. Nowhere in this paper have I suggested that other groups be denied their rights, but I call for the rights of lesbians to be recognized as well. It is clear that violations of lesbians’ human rights intersect with violations against people on the basis of ethnicity, sex, cultural background, ability/disability, religion, class, caste and poverty, as well as sexuality.  But when the issue of torture is raised, who speaks of the violations of lesbians?  Who speaks of the intra-family violence meted out to lesbians?  In Beijing in 1995, the demands about lesbians were removed so as not to offend the Vatican and Saudi Arabia.  Whose rights count?  Does anyone care for the rights of lesbians?

Do not silence lesbians even if you disagree.  Argue rather than boycotting.  Silencing is insidious.  It works wonders in keeping the abused away from public view, away from public consciousness.  If you ignore the plight of lesbians who will be next?  If a film like The Gendercator is dropped from the program where is the ‘constructive dialogue’?

Accord lesbians the same human rights as others.  When an Indigenous or Muslim woman asks for women-only space, with rare exceptions (that are then considered violations), these wishes are rightly respected.  When gay men call for their own space, their right (is rightly) defended.

Do not put lesbians in the “too hard” basket to wait until after the revolution.  The revolution will never be finished.  It is an ongoing struggle and lesbians must be a part of it.  For years  lesbians have been active in many campaigns for social justice everywhere in the world, but how many activists in those campaigns give support to campaigns for social justice for lesbians?

Do not contribute to the atmosphere of fear or bad publicity.  As Indian researcher Maya Sharma says, there are ‘… many silences that fall in between the uttered and the unutterable’.

Be proud of the lesbians in your life.  Support them, celebrate with them.  Cry with them when necessary.  Protest with them when lesbians’ rights are violated.

____________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Susan Hawthorne is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Arts & Social Sciences at James Cook University, Townsville. She is a novelist, poet, academic, publisher and aerialist. She has been involved in the Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Movements for more than thirty years and is a member of the Coalition of Activist Lesbians (COAL). In 1996, she was a Winner of the Hall of Fame Award in the Rainbow Awards for contribution to the Gay and Lesbian Community. Among her books are The Butterfly Effect (poetry, 2005), The Falling Woman (novel, 1992), Wild Politics: Feminism, Globalisation and Bio/diversity (non-fiction, 2002) and eleven anthologies. Her collection, Earth’s Breath (2009) was shortlisted for the 2010 Judith Wright Poetry Award and her sixth book of poetry is Cow (2011).

References

Christine Chika Moses 2010 “Corrective Rapes in South Africa: A Lesbian War Zone” The West African Pilot http://www.thewestafricanpilot.com/2010/04/30/corrective-rapes/).

Kelly, Annie. “Raped and killed for being a lesbian: South Africa ignores ‘corrective’ attacks”

Guardian. Thursday March 12 2009 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/12/eudy-simelane-corrective-rape-south-africa

http://lezgetreal.com/2010/11/the-shocking-truth-of-corrective-rape-survivors-speak-from-south-africa/

Pers. Comm.,‘Candlelight Vigil Honoring All African LGBT & HIV+ Heroes who have been Murdered’ This statement was jointly issued by Less AIDS Lesotho and the committee of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender African immigrants residing in U.S. Email received 1 July 2007. See also Morgan and Wieringa (2005).

Mathope, Esau, ‘FannyAnn Eddy’s Alleged Murderer in Court.’ 17 June 2005. http://www.mask.org.za/article.php?cat=sierraleone&id=490. Accessed 15 Jan 2008.

Human Rights Watch, 4 October 2004 cited in Morgan, Ruth and Saskia Wieringa, Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives: Female same-sex practices in Africa (2005) 20.

Eddy, FannyAnn, ‘Testimony by FannyAnn Eddy at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Item 14 – 60th Session, U.N. Commission on Human Rights’ (2004) http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/10/04/sierra9439.htm

Amnesty International, ‘Appeal Cases: Zimbabwe: Threats to Homosexual Rights Activists.’ In Why Are We Still Waiting: The Struggle for Women’s Human Rights. Country Dossier: Zimbabwe, March 1998: E 43. (Amnesty International Library, London).

Machida, Tina. ‘Sisters of Mercy.’ In Reinfelder, Monika (ed.) Amazon to Zami: Toward a global lesbian feminism. (1996) 118-129.

Hawthorne, Susan, ‘Ancient Hatred and Its Contemporary Manifestations: The Torture of Lesbians’ The Journal of Hate Studies 4 (2006) 33-58. Online at http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/againsthate/Journal4/04AncientHatred.pdf

Rivera-Fuentes, Consuelo and Linda Birke, ‘Talking With/In Pain: Reflections on bodies under torture’ (2001) Women’s Studies International Forum 24, (6): 653-668.

Hawthorne, Susan. ‘The Silences Between: Are Lesbians Irrelevant?’ Journal of International Women’s Studies. Women’s Bodies, Gender Analysis, and Feminist Politics at the Fórum Social Mundial, 8 (3) April (2007) 125-138. http://www.bridgew.edu/SoAS/jiws/April07/Hawthorne1.pdf

For updates, go to: http://www.allout.org/brenda; I received the news about David Kato’s murder from Pambazuka News: http://pambazuka.org/en/category/action/70432  ‘Brutal murder of gay Ugandan human rights defender David Kato’, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) 2011-01-27, Issue 514.

There are rare exceptions including the case of Pegah Emambakhsh. See ‘URGENT: Don’t Deport Pegah Emambakhsh’ ASSIST, 16.08.2007. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/08/378415.html

Tom, “Mexican Gays Get Asylum: Canada’s 1st Lesbian Refugees’ Toronto Sun,  8 August, 2001. An interesting aside, this article on lesbian refugees is indexed under gay men!

Darya and Baran, ‘Interview with an Iranian Lesbian in order to convey her protest to the world’ Iranian Queer Organization (2007) 2. http://irqo.net/IRQO/English/pages/071.htm  Translated by Ava. Accessed 17 August 2007.

Jared Polis, ‘The Closet of Fear: The systemic execution of gays and lesbians in Iraq’ (2007). http://www.squarestate.net/showDiary.do;jsessionid=4F4D21ED01EE37CF34BCFF8BF73D8C94?diaryId=4972. Accessed 20 December 2007.

Personal communication: Petition, Keller, Dashu, Brite and Shelley, June 2007.

Crouch, Catherine, ‘The Gendercator’ on Catherine Crouch’s website. http://catherinecrouch.com/mainwebsite_html/filmsDetail.php?pageID=gendercator. Accessed 28 December 2007.

Moschetti, Carole, ‘Conjugal Wrongs Don’t Make Rights: International Feminist Activism, Child Marriage and Sexual Relativism’ PhD Dissertation, Political Science Department, University of Melbourne (2006). For Zimbabwe see Machida (1996); for Iran see Mangez (2005).

ILIS Newsletter 15 (2) 1994.

Caleri (Campaign for Lesbian Rights). Khamosh! Emergency Jari Hai! Lesbian Emergence: A Citizens’ Report (1999) 17.

Sharma, Maya, Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Underprivileged India, 2006, 38.

Hopkins, Alison Julie, ‘Convenient Fictions: The Script of Lesbian Desire in the Post-Ellen Era. A New Zealand Perspective’ (2008 PhD, Victoria University of Wellington) 276.

14 comments
  1. rainsinger said:

    Susan, thanks so much for this piece, I very much identify with this ” The word ‘lesbian’ is: ‘…so loaded with fear and embarrassment and prejudice, a word shrouded in silence, a whisper that spoke of an identity that must be hidden from others, that frightening word that dare not cross the threshold’. “

    You can identify as anything these days, anything but a lesbian that is, or even a woman (defined as adult female) for that matter. My own guessing is that its a desire for dis-identification and ‘distancing’ that has led to the rise of ‘queer’ as a more socially acceptable alternative. As a way of removing the term of lesbian from language with its overtones of a) female independence from male-defined sexuality and b) asserting our femaleness as central to our sexual Self.

  2. developing said:

    Great read : )

    Your point about actually using the word lesbian is spot-on. I call myself ‘gay’ sometimes, but then someone will say something or there’ll be something in the newspaper and I realise over again that many people use gay to refer exclusively to gay men. Saying “gay” actually sounds to me like it’s less of a challenge or threat to society than “lesbian”. I think I use it when I want to sound non-threatening…Although not nearly on par with what happens to lesbians in some other countries, I still find the lesbian issue tricky sometimes despite living in Sydney which is a pretty good city for us overall!.

    I work in the anti-dv sector and find that I keep my more radical feminist views to myself as I can’t shake the feeling that as a lesbian I have to be nicer to and about men than straight (liberal) feminists do – I’m already viewed with suspicion if that makes sense? It really annoys me that I feel a bit apologetic about being both a lesbian and a feminist and feel the need to almost over-compensate for it…

  3. KatieS said:

    I cried when I viewed the video. These Lesbians are so courageous. They are so natural.

    Along the way the word “unnatural” made an impression on me. Not a fully conscious impression, perhaps subtle, but somehow it got paired with the word “Lesbian.” This denies the beauty of sex for Lesbians. In my experience, sex for Lesbians is the most natural thing. Yet, being a Lesbian is not primarily about sex. It is about wholeness. It is about affirmation. It is about bonding. It is about acceptance of oneself and other women. Many women, including Lesbians, consciously understand that sex is interwoven with wholeness, affirmation, bonding, and acceptance.

    As is clear from the video, men are taught otherwise. It is the lies of patriarchy, lies that the men in the video repeat–unnatural lies. Another reversal.

    As a Lesbian, I fully embrace the natural, my nature, affirming my wholeness, accepting myself. I affirm all Lesbians with pride. I do not embrace pride in the boastful or self-centered ways I have sometimes seen in demonstrated the LGBTQ cultures you describe, a pride tainted with patriarchy, a pride that would make Lesbians invisible. I embrace instead the courageous pride of women like those in the video.

    Thank you for this important post, Susan.

  4. SheilaG said:

    A great article, and the word LESBIAN is the most powerful. Even a lot of lesbians I know are afraid of that word— anytime I hear a woman use the word “gay” to describe a lesbian, I know it is internalized homophobia.
    Lesbians have been the backbone of some of the most radical organizations in the world… domestic violence shelters for battered women… safe havens from battering men, rape crisis centers to name a few. We did the fundraising, the hard work… we get little in return. A radical lesbian is the most powerful statement against male colonization on the planet, a lesbian is the most powerful statement that women love women. We have forged this commitment to each other and have powered a huge international movement. We get silenced and ridiculed even in radfem land. No women are made more invisible than lesbians, and every day in every way, I have to deal with straight women who try to erase me as a real woman radical, a woman who will not live a life of compromise in my own home. You’d think that our example would inspire all women worldwide… next time you hear someone use “gay and woman”— use the LESBIAN word proudly!

  5. developing said:

    SheilaG and KatieS – your comments are awesome! Lesbians like me need to hear validating statements like the ones you’ve made – a lot!! Of course, we have to make them too….

  6. SheilaG said:

    developing…I’m sure you have equally powerful words to write and say! Remember, use LESBIAN, and never let any group take this special word away from women. The game is up every time a “queer’ organization erases LESBIANS… I find this a telling thing, so the first step to liberation is to make yourself visible to yourself, and then take the most powerful words for women as your own.

    Our small group worldwide has been a powerhouse of innovation, consciousness raising and productivity. Read the most powerful radical feminist books, and guess what? LESBIANS wrote them. Women are perhaps the only group on the planet that willingly lives with the oppressor, willingly cooks and cleans for him, willingly has babies, and willingly does all kinds of unpaid work in service to men. Willingly. I’m not counting the women forced into hetersexual slavery to men, just the women who CHOOSE to do this.

    So the lesbian is the one person who actually says Women are number one in every way. It has nothing to do with men, we love women, and that power gets generated into dynamic social movements for change. Never forget that in the 19th century in England, single women comprised about 86% of suffrage organization members. And single woman in 19th England was most likely a lesbian. Lesbians fueled the left bank of Paris and helped to usher in modernism. Any group of women that never married men and never had children created a powerhouse of innovation. If you are a het woman, you are actually serving men…literally. So all that time with men eats up the creativity of women. It’s what makes lesbian nation so endlessly fascinating, and every lesbian born on earth is testiment to freedom, uncompromised, freedom in its purest form… freedom in the home, freedom to create art, freedom to travel worldwide. FREEDOM is another definition of LESBIAN.

  7. Yes, thankyou Susan. This is very affirming. And thankyou to Sheila and Katie too.
    developing, I live in Sydney too, and although, as you say, we are relatively better off than our South African sisters, I find Sydney is becoming less tolerant as I get older. I live in the southern suburbs and I’ve recently been verbally abused, shoved out of the way and constantly death-stared, in public. My partner lives in the inner west which is a much safer place, but she was recently pelted with eggs while waiting at a bus stop. I find I am going out less and less these days.

  8. Lilya (4-Ever) said:

    Thanks so much for writing this, Susan! I am fortunate enough to live at a time and place where lesbianism is an option. I realize for many women around the globe, opting out of hetero relationships is much more challenging, to put it mildly.

    I honestly don’t know what I would do if I “had” to partner with a man…the thought makes me sick.

  9. ybawife said:

    On the button Rain, anything that makes invisible womon’s self agency sans the menz is HIStorically eradicated to ensure the continuation of the male domination of womons bodies and sexuality.
    In secondary schools here it is seen as OK to be a gay young man but for young womon being out as a lesbian has real consequences…..
    Young womon here who hang around with their girl friends more than menz also get labelled lesbo by the pack, thus ensuring the split of female friendship and creates a narrow and singular definition of what it is to be female..no choices but hetero are safe for many girls who would otherwise choose to be Lesbian. Very difficult!!!
    When they refer to ‘anti- homophobia policy in our schools they are only ever really referring to the rights of gay boyz and rarely if ever mention the rights of gay girls…….

    This is the experience of many girls who enter hetero land rather than run the risk of being humiliated and bullied for their true identity and sexual choice…..
    A long way to go despite all our equality laws…….its all pie-in-the-sky for many young lesbian womon…..

  10. KatieS said:

    No one else uses the word Lesbian. We really do need to use it . Here is an informal survey of the LGBT pages of a chain of alternative papers. I am glad that they have a LGBT section in each of their papers. However, they use the word “gay” all the time, and hardly ever use the word “lesbian.” Also, they quite frequently emphasize stories about HIV/AIDS, but not anything similar targeted for Lesbians. Here’s the breakdown on the number of times I found the words “lesbian” or “gay” In one case I added the words, HIV or AIDS since it is clearly a gay issue, not a Lesbian one and the number of times the word was used was noticeably high on that page. I didn’t do this for all papers (just lazy, but the totals for gay/HIV/AIDS would have been still higher had I done so).

    Also, some of the instances of the words were found in tweets or comments, not the actual newspaper’s text. It’s a snapshot of today 8/12/11. After doing this informal survey, I realize that feeling left out or invisible is not just my imagination. Also, frequently other groups were mentioned, such as bisexuals, transsexuals, African-Americans, etc. Also, in one case, the word lesbian was used 4 times, but it was referring to a transsexual, not a woman-born-woman. It was about trans discrimination, having nothing to do with the individual being a lesbian. Another page had 5 instances, all of them by an ultraconservative politician describing corrective therapy. He was actually the only one who used the term “gay” and “lesbian” correctly. But for purposes against our instances. Had I taken this out, the times it was used descriptively would have been 3, compared to 86 (actually more) for gay.

    http://coloradoindependent.com/category/lgbt-issues (lesbian=2, gay=9)
    http://floridaindependent.com/category/lgbt (lesbian=5 , gay=11)
    http://iowaindependent.com/category/lgbt (lesbian=0 , gay=5)
    http://michiganmessenger.com/category/issues/lgbt (lesbian= 1, gay=5, HIV/AIDS=6 )
    http://minnesotaindependent.com/category/lgbt-issues-2 (lesbian= 4*, gay=16 )
    . . .*although the word “lesbian is present in the text, this turned out to be about a trans attempting to use a girls locker room for the first time, getting bullied, and filing a lawsuit. Not included in total.
    http://newmexicoindependent.com/category/lgbt-issues (lesbian= 0, gay=23 )
    http://www.americanindependent.com/category/lgbt (lesbian=0 , gay=11 )

    Totals (lesbian= 8, gay/HIV/AIDS=86 )

  11. KatieS said:

    I was wrong about that student in the locker room. I read more and I think she was a lesbian. So the totals are lesbian=12, gay=86.

    Also this sentence is mistyped. “But for purposes against our instances.” Should be “against our interests.”

    Tiring day, I should not read or post when I’m this tired, obviously.

  12. Thanks for all the comments. It’s great to see them.

  13. Tannim said:

    Just wanted to point out that Peter was the dude that denied his association with Christ, not Judas. Of course, you were probably trying to punch up the “total sellout” or “betrayal” angle, so it’s more a mere factual inaccuracy than an intent one.

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