Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS In defense of the word 'lesbian'
by Max Lubbers
2021-11-19

This article shared 2215 times since Fri Nov 19, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When I decided to come out to my mom, I wanted to wait until I could say the word "lesbian" out loud. But as I sat her down, I tripped over the long string of letters. "Mom, I'm gay," I blurted instead.

The impulse to dissolve my identity to gay—or queer—has followed me since then. While I fit into both these categories and find incredible solidarity with my larger LGBTQ+ community, "lesbian" is the word that liberated me. It also is the word that took me the longest to say.

"Lesbian" sounds like a secret. It's rare when I hear it spoken with pride or even much volume. Growing up, I'd always hear people whisper "lessssbian," with something salacious in their tone. It felt like a dirty word, and I felt dirty for being one.

Now, I find strength in its specificity. "Queer" and "gay" are fantastic as expansive umbrella terms, but they're generalizations by nature. As a lesbian, I encounter countless men who try to "turn me" and sexualize me; I need a word to hold on to that says, "I am not attracted to you."

This reclamation is especially important in the face of overt objectification. Part of my embarrassment in using "lesbian" in front of my mother was that it felt inherently sexual. That's no surprise, since lesbian remains a top porn search. But it is not my fault that men have built caricatures of my sexuality in order to get off. I and other lesbians deserve a term to describe ourselves.

But compared to the older LGBTQ+ community, my generation seems much less likely to identify with the word. This could be because there are more terms to use now, including words that lesbians in another time may have gravitated toward, if only they were given the option. But there's also a particular backlash against using "lesbian" that I find from my own community.

Don't get me wrong—I would never argue that a queer person should use the label "lesbian" if that word doesn't fit. I personally use the term because it best describes my sexual orientation and gender identity. I'm attracted to (cis and trans) women, transfeminine people and non-binary people connected to womanhood. As far as gender, I'm not a woman, but I am a lesbian. That's a lot to explain, which is why I like the label. I've never felt restricted by identifying as a lesbian. I've only felt free.

By this point, I don't care much about what cisgender, heterosexual people think about me using the term "lesbian." But it is hurtful to hear my own community call my identity "outdated," "restrictive" or "too binary."

I resent the implication that lesbians should be regulated to history, or that we are somehow "less progressive or radical" than other queer people are. You aren't progressive according to who you are attracted to—that depends on your politics.

And just because we exclude men from our attraction does not make us inherently "restrictive." Not only are gay men rarely told the same, but that claim reeks of lesbophobia. It's the exact same idea as someone telling me to "be more fluid and open" or to "just try men!" Trust lesbians when we say we know our own sexuality and experience.

History also shows us that lesbians have never been strictly binary. My own gender identity is best described as "lesbian" or "dyke," and those terms have served to describe both sexuality and gender throughout time. Traditions of gender non-conformity exist across our culture, with lesbians changing their names, switching up their pronouns, or identifying as butch or femme.

Most of the arguments against the term "lesbian" can boil down to a few stereotypes, all rooted in misogyny and homophobia: "'Lesbian' sounds stuffy and uptight;" "Lesbians are ugly and undesirable and mean;" or "'Lesbian' sounds so gross and dirty."

I understand these reactions. My own internalized lesbophobia stopped me from using the term, too. But there's something incredibly special about reclaiming "lesbian." Why should heteronormative and patriarchal norms decide whether we're attractive or not, nice or not? Why should men get to sexualize lesbians out of our own word?

I'm a mean, ugly, uptight, undesirable, gross, stuffy, dirty lesbian—and I'm proud to be one.

Max Lubbers (they/them) is a non-binary lesbian journalist focused on telling nuanced, community-based stories. Prior to the Windy City Times, they reported on Evanston, Ill. news and served as digital managing editor for The Daily Northwestern. This past summer, Max reported for KRBD, a NPR-affiliated public radio station in Ketchikan, Alaska. Currently, they study journalism and gender studies as a junior at Northwestern University.

Outside of journalism, Max likes poetry and live music. They grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado, right by the Rocky Mountains, but they love Lake Michigan just as much. Ever since Max moved to Illinois, they've read the Windy City Times, so they are incredibly excited to now report as a fellow.

Lubbers is one of the Field Foundation fellows writing for Windy City Times this fall.


This article shared 2215 times since Fri Nov 19, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

LGBT poverty dropped to 17% during the COVID-19 pandemic
2023-02-07
--From a press release - Economic well-being increased most among LGBT people of color and in households with children A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds a dramatic decrease in the number of LGBT and ...


Gay News

On State of the Union eve, HRC highlights Biden-Harris record on LGBTQ+ equality, urges action
2023-02-06
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — As President Biden prepares to deliver his second State of the Union address on Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender ...


Gay News

Lesbian Singles Over 45 event Feb. 11
2023-02-03
--From a press release - Queer Ministries of Lincoln United Methodist Church (LUMC) is hosting the 1st Annual Lesbian Singles Event Over 45 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.Lincoln United Methodist Church Community Center located a ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden talks accomplishments, second term goals
2023-02-01
ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden discusses accomplishments, second term goals By Carrie Maxwell This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: 49th Ward challenger Belia Rodriguez on why running, differences from incumbent
2023-02-01
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. Belia Rodriguez is a lifelong Chicagoan who attended Chicago Public Schools. ...


Gay News

HRC on end of Mpox Public Health Emergency: Today we enter a new phase in a continuing fight
2023-02-01
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — marked the end of the Mpox Public ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Lamont Robinson talks political switch, guns, LGBTQ+ issues
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. When it comes to politics, Lamont Robinson has, for several years, ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Candidate Larry Svabek describes his vision for the 48th Ward
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. Twenty-nine year old Larry Svabek has been an instructor, lecturer and ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Jessie Fuentes: 26th Ward candidate talks mental health, LGBTQ+ Chicagoans
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. The 2023 race to represent Chicago's 26th Ward—which includes parts of ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa seeks third term, talks accomplishments
2023-01-30
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. A life-long Chicagoan, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) is running unopposed ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Raymond Lopez on running for alderman, endorsing Willie Wilson
2023-01-29
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. The last time Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez talked with Windy City ...


Gay News

Lesbian named presiding judge of Cook County Circuit Court's Pretrial Division
2023-01-27
--From a press release - CHICAGO (January 27) — The Hon. Mary C. Marubio has been named the acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said. Marubio (who Windy ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT The FBI, Loaves of Bread, Corruption, and Reform
2023-01-25
When I was 13 years old I used to ride shot gun with my uncle A. on his Italian bread truck deliveries. My job was to enter the store with him and remove the old, stale loaves of bread while he ...


Gay News

Lesbian tennis player ends 23-year career
2023-01-23
Australian tennis player Sam Stosur has called it a career after back-to-back losses at the Australian Open, Yahoo! Sport noted. Stosur—an out lesbian who played for 23 years—lost in the first round of the women's doubles ...


Gay News

Rogers Park's R Public House's door destroyed by homophobic vandal
2023-01-18
The lesbian-owned restaurant and bar R Public House, 1508 W. Jarvis Ave., was targeted by a hammer-wielding man yelling anti-LGBTQ slurs at about 5:40 p.m. during happy hour on Monday, Jan. 16. Owners (and married couple) ...


 




Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.