An experience with “lesbian stigma”


It is 6 months since Lesbian Visibility week 2022 and we wanted to share how we hope its intentions might continue to impact social change for the LGBTQIA+ community til its 2023 return.

In the spirit of this, we keep sharing Lesbian experiences from the region , creating a platform for their voices and greater awareness of systemic Issues faced. One such voice is that of our team member of GEM Özge Boztaş who explains the social pressures on Lesbian Women.

“Tattoo artist at the studio that I visit quite often nowadays, staring at my pride flag tattoo on my arm, asks whether I like women “as a man or as a woman”. Albeit the inappropriateness of the question, the binary is out in the open. He wants me to choose sides: fragile or strong, dress-lover or mom jeans-lover, as if it is not enough for me to say that I love her. Being a white heterosexual male, he sees the right in himself to fetishize and formulate my life.”

“Lesbians do not come in one look, one shape. Today gender identities proliferate and we do even talk about “non-binary lesbianism”. Not all lesbians hate make-up or have cats or cut their hair short. Like every human being we are all trying to figure ourselves out in the midst of our chaotic lives but what we need more is respect and not being fetishized by the heterosexual male gaze.”

“The International Lesbian Visibility Day commemorates the achievements so far but also marks the need to go further, accept and respect. Without a doubt in our societies and workplaces in Global South, -saying this from where I am sitting in Southeast Turkey-, there is a long way to go. We need allies who listen without judgement, who help us normalize but do not roll eyes or try to hide laughter while we mention ‘girlfriends’.”

Their experience is yet another example of how people are pushed to label themselves for the comfort of others. We must remind that Gender and Sexuality do not belong to anyone outside of ourselves. Not to be stereotyped, sexualised, invalidated, or fetishized like so many of the Lesbian Community.