Lesbophobia is alive and well

Too often displays of affection in public attract male leering

Share
Related Topics

My girlfriend and I were finishing our drinks in a pub in Cardiff. We shared a brief kiss and got up to leave. I was half-way to the door when I realised that a group of men were loudly applauding us and one was filming on his phone. 

The incident wasn’t just intimidating. As a woman in a lesbian relationship, it made me feel that my girlfriend and I were being considered ‘entertainment’ by these men. Like we were something exotic from a porn set. Like our affection for each other existed for the personal pleasure of those outside our relationship.

According to female friends who are also in relationships with women, these aren’t isolated incidents. Comments like “can I get in on that?” or “I’d pay to see a bit more of that” when we kiss are just as threatening and unpleasant as homophobic name-calling. These statements devalue the relationship. They make it into a sexy show that’s put on for the satisfaction of others. Since when does this happen with heterosexual couples?

I think this occurs because we like to put people in boxes, and we get annoyed when this doesn’t work out. Elizabeth, 23, says “it's like people feel uncomfortable if they can't pick out those who are gay in a crowd according to their own stereotypes”.

It seems that there’s still a lot of rigid stereotyping going on when it comes to queer women and what they should look like. Lesbians who look more masculine or androgynous are more easily recognised as gay, but being traditionally feminine-looking means that people don’t know until you start holding your girlfriend’s hand or publically displaying affection. I find it very strange that there are expectations regarding how a lesbian or a woman in a lesbian relationship ‘should’ dress or present themselves. Surely queer women are just like all other women, varied and all unique.

This seems to be an issue that has seeped into the LGBT community itself. Poppy, 21, says “I was in a bar in Manchester’s gay district and another lesbian asked me to prove my sexuality by getting off with her friend. They didn’t believe I was gay because I didn’t look a certain way.”

Statistics from the ONS indicate that more than twice as many men identify as gay than women. Is this because there genuinely aren’t very many lesbians out there? Perhaps feeling intimidated by inappropriate comments or like you have to look a certain way to identify as a lesbian has something to do with the relatively low numbers of young women coming out.

This kind of ‘lesbophobia’ is alive and well, but gains are being made for the LGBT community. Last week, the Montreal bar Le Manoir issued an official apology to a lesbian couple who were asked to leave the establishment because they were kissing. It’s important for queer women to feel accepted and comfortable in public, unafraid that they will be the target of sexualised remarks or the institutional homophobia demonstrated by the manager of Le Manoir. I’d like more lesbians and particularly more ‘feminine’ lesbians to feel comfortable coming out. I’d also like guys to stop catcalling or clapping me and my other half when we go for a drink. Yes, we’re wearing dresses and no, you can’t get in on that.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?