Lesbian Visibility Day 2019

To celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2019, we’re dedicating this blog post to five famous lesbians you probably didn’t know about. These women have shown resilience throughout their lives and helped pave the path for the freedom that the LGBT+ community has today.

 

Sappho: Birth date unknown – Died 630 BC
Sappho was a Greek poet who predominantly wrote about her raw emotions towards women. The way she expressed her sexual preferences so openly is seen as very contemporary. Sappho manifests the delicacy of human emotions through her work, as she writes about heartbreak and physical love.

 

Amrita Sher-Gil: 1913 – 1941
Also known as the Indian Frida Kahlo, she explored the sadness of the daily lives of Indian women in the 1930’s. Sher-Gil wanted to manifest the ‘real’ struggling women of Indian. This wasn’t seen in many paintings made before herself. Sher-Gil’s paintings represent her own battles with oppression and sexuality as she also challenges the prude expectations of Indian women. She was torn between both Western and Eastern origins and translated this through her paintings.

 

Gladys Bentley: 1907 – 1960
As the roaring twenties were approaching, a new era of acceptance was looming. This gave Gladys Bentley the stage to unapologetically be who she wanted to be. She was a black, lesbian drag king who was widely accepted and went on to become a celebrity not just in the Harlem area in New York, but across the entire U.S. Her performances radiated confidence and energy, as she explored her traits that were deemed as masculine, as well as her African rhythm and sexuality. Bentley was the first performer of the era to be so open about her trans identity, so much so in an interview that shocked many at the time, she openly admitted to marrying a white women, despite it being illegal.

 

Audre Lorde: 1934 – 1992
Audre Lorde described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” She is an advocate for equality and expressed the same themes throughout all of her work. Lorde felt she had a duty to represent the raw injustices that she experienced during her life, due to her sexuality, class, gender and race. She was completely devoted to poetry as the chosen medium to expose these injustices, which has influenced the growth of equality movements we see today.

 

Barbara Gittings: 1932 – 2007
Gittings was at the front line of the LGBT+ equality movement. Her list of achievements is astonishing. Gittings is renowned as the ‘Mother of the Gay Rights Movement.’ In 1950’s American, she found the first national organisation for lesbians: Daughters of Bilitis. She helped retract the definition that homosexuality was seen as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association. This is just to name a few of her achievements. Gittings has said that she had a desire to create a bibliography for lesbians whilst working in libraries, as Gittings couldn’t find any work that represented how her own sexuality has shaped her life.

 

If you would like more LGBT+ reading, please check out our LGBT+ reading list. Click here

 

Thanks for reading and Happy Lesbian Visibility Day!