Today is Lesbian Day of Visibility, a day when we celebrate and uplift every lesbian, no matter where they live or how they identify. Today is a day of joy, yes, but this celebration goes much deeper. We are celebrating being out, proud, and seen – things that often don’t come without pain and sacrifice. To me, being out and visibly queer is a way to continue towards progress, as representation of the complex identities within the LGBTQ community is vital to the well-being of queer individuals. I know this firsthand.
I am a lesbian whose middle and high school years were during the 2010s. I also grew up in a suburb of Boise, ID, a place heavily influenced by conservative politics and the Mormon religion. Needless to say, my queerness was mostly hidden from plain view during my youth (apart from Glee with which I was obsessed). One affirming TV show aside, heteronormativity was all I really ever knew. I went through high school knowing almost nothing about the LGBTQ community or our vibrant history.
In hindsight, I’ve realized that this lack of representation in media and not knowing any out-LGBTQ people in my life during this prime time of self-discovery played a huge role in me not fully understanding myself until college.
You see, I was always a lesbian, I just didn’t know it. When I look back, my teenage self was such an empty shell of who I am now. Thinking back on this time in my personal life as we are witnessing this onslaught of “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bills passing in several states, I am saddened knowing that many kids will also be deprived of opportunities to learn about themselves or the beauty of the LGBTQ community. Being invisible won’t stop kids from being LGBTQ – it will just stop them from being happy, confident, and full. This is why visibility matters.
Once I finally understood myself to be a lesbian, in large part due to queer visibility that came with attending university in California, my life changed for the better. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being seen and loved for being your truest self. There’s just such a satisfying feeling of completeness to it.
So, to my fellow Sapphics: here’s to knowing yourself, loving yourself, and living your best open life. Happy Lesbian Day of Visibility!