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Then and Now - Lesbian Life Changes in 100 Years

Quite often I am enraged that we still have such a long way to go to be accepted as a normal part of society. Why should right wingers and Christian movements discriminate against us because we are gay or lesbian? Why should Bush be able to think about banning gay or lesbian marriage, let alone putting an amendment forward? Why do only some countries and states allow same-sex couple adoption? Why are we still being harassed in our own workplaces for being a lesbian? There are far too many whys to list them all, but as a lesbian it angers me that just because we do not fit into the heterosexual scene that we have less civil liberties and are frowned upon by many in our world.

However, when I look back just a hundred years, or so, ago to the turn of the twentieth century, this grounds me. It makes me see how far we have come in society, thanks to lesbian and gay liberation movements and women being determined to be proud of their lesbian roots. In comparison we are a spoilt generation of lesbians; we have come so far and although we still have a long way to go to gain worldwide equality we are heading in the right direction. I want to take you back 100 years or so to make you realize just how lucky you are!

Lesbians 100 Years Ago

Just over 100 years ago, lesbians lived in a very different society from what we have today. The term lesbian had only just been introduced and we were an often ignored and invisible section of the human race. Sexuality had only just begun to be categorized as homosexual or heterosexual and, although same sex relationships were starting to be talked about, lesbianism was considered to be a "sickness" that we needed to be cured of. We were considered to be part of the third sex; women that wanted to be men and labeled "inverts" by Sigmund Freud. Heterosexuals thought it was just a phase that women were going through and in time we would revert to heterosexual relationships!

In reality lesbianism had already existed for thousands of years, it was just that now it was starting to come to the surface. Women who lived with women tried to gently shake off the image that they existed in sexless Boston Marriages. Although most lesbians didn't live in open families and preferred to keep their love for one another secret, they started to take on the first visible roles of butch and femme at this time, although these terms hadn't even been coined yet! Upper class women that were prominent figures started to dress in men's suits and some even lived for many years as a man; the politician Murray Hall is just one example. It seemed that the first rumblings of gay and lesbian liberation were starting as women slowly moved towards the ideal that loving other women was not wrong and why should they hide their true feelings just because society believed it was unnatural.

Lesbians Now

In comparison, we have taken a huge leap forward in visibility and acceptance. Although there are certain pockets that still consider our relationships to be abnormal, we are much more widely accepted and tolerated. After Stonewall; decades of Gay Pride marches; the Gay Activists Alliance; and the Gay Liberation Front we are finally getting somewhere in terms of equality.

I feel happy to be an open, out and proud lesbian in the town where I live. I do not hide my sexuality at all and this is the same for many lesbian couples across the globe. I do not consider myself to be either butch or femme and androgyny is far more widespread. In many countries same sex couples can adopt children or have their own and share parental responsibility. Many countries allow same sex marriages and are focusing on combating sexuality discrimination at work and at home. Yes, it's true that we still have a lot to fight for, and are still discriminated globally for our sexuality, but I think we need to focus on what we have achieved. We are even being recognized as a lucrative target market; you only have to look at the increasing number of lesbian bars; lesbian shops; lesbian online stores; lesbian music; lesbian films; lesbian porn; and lesbian holiday destinations. In fact, even the psychologists have given up on calling us inverts; they are far more worried about lesbian bed death syndrome than anything else!

I wonder where we will be in 100 years more time?


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