Lesbian politics has been a sorely neglected area by all political parties in the longterm. As lesbians in the Labour Party, we expect better.
In the last decade it has often been organisations tasked with representing our interests that have been the most neglectful. For example, gay rights charity Stonewall has ventured far from its original purpose of supporting lesbians and gay men. Thankfully we now have the LGB Alliance standing up for same-sex attraction.
Lesbians also face cultural invisibility in unexpected places. Diva magazine, the only magazine in the U.K. for lesbian women, has recently adopted gender neutral language and embraced the idea that heterosexual males who identify as ‘trans’ can be lesbians. Lesbian dating sites now even feature men ‘identifying’ as lesbians.
It is clear that lesbians today are under ideological attack and face material erasure from within our own quarters. We are in the peculiar position of often finding more support for our rights outside of LGBT politics.
It has become increasingly necessary for lesbians to form our own groups and organisations, run by and for lesbians. We can no longer rely on groups that mix the L in with the GBT to advance our interests. Lesbians suffer from the duality of women’s oppression and homophobic discrimination. It often leaves us at the bottom of the pile within the LGBT sphere, competing against misogyny and sexism, and trying to survive culturally despite greater resources, positive coverage, and government funding awarded to gender identity groups.
Transgenderism itself has led to an existential crisis for lesbianism, as more and more young gender non-conforming lesbians are encouraged to ‘transition’ and attempt to pass as straight men. We understand the reasons for wishing to escape womanhood (namely sexism and misogyny) and that within a landscape that vanishes lesbians it is increasingly appealing for Millennial and Generation-Z dykes to hide by entering a second closet as supposedly heterosexual men.
As feminist Labour activists and lesbians, we still feel it is possible to build an expansive lesbian culture that celebrates gender non-conforming, heralds same-sex attraction, and seeks to better the lives of all lesbians regardless of race or class.
Join us and fight for a better future for lesbians in the Labour Party.
By Jen Izaakson