Yesterday a group of lesbians went to Bradford Pride to celebrate their sexuality and challenge the erasure of lesbians by transactivists.
We had decided to meet in a coffee shop before going into the square. Whilst sat drinking coffee we were approached by two police officers from West Yorkshire Police. They explained that someone had come to them and said that they’d seen some placards and so they wanted to make sure that there was nothing derogatory and that we were not a hate group. We assured them that we were just lesbians going to Pride. That WYP felt it necessary to question a group of lesbians sat in a public place should concern everyone. The state has no business intimidating or policing the peaceful behaviour of its citizens just in case they offend someone.
The placard in question read ‘Lesbian = Female HomoSEXual’. That this was worthy of attention from the police illustrates our point. Our belief is that lesbians have the right to chose their partners based on sex and not gender identity. This position does not conflict with the right of individuals to express themselves or to live their lives in the gender they choose- we are not anti-transgender or transphobic.
When we entered the event and held our banners up we were approached by people asking why we were there and by some young lesbians that wanted a photo with the banner. We spoke to one person who said we had no place at Pride — we disagreed but it was a civil discussion. Then came a transgender woman who wanted to stand in front of our banner and shout at us, before leaving to speak from the stage. The crowd were told that we were bigoted and showing intolerance and not welcome at Pride. This had the desired effect, almost no-one approached us after this except to try to make us leave. It is a tactic that is becoming very familiar — to stop people questioning the narrative put forward by transactivists, stifle discussion and cast lesbians and women trying to stand up for their rights as hateful bigots.
After Pride’s opening speeches, some men came over to try to get us to leave, when we refused they attempted to cover our banners with transgender flags. A gay man came over to explain that lesbians have no right to oppress transgender women by refusing to have relationships with them. A video of that exchange was recorded and even watching it back I can see a man looming over a woman on a mobility scooter trying to intimidate her. Gay men telling lesbians that they are bigoted to want same-sex relationships. A group of large men telling women to be quiet and capitulate to what men believe is right. Who is oppressing who here?
Lesbians are peacefully protesting LGBT prides because they have been excluded from their own communities. Lesbians must either accept that male bodies and attitudes are female or be shunned. I asked one of the angry men where he thought homosexual women should go, he walked off and came back with a group of large men and some flags to try to cover our banners. That he couldn’t answer me was revealing. He accepts that being a homosexual is now transphobic and that my right to a relationship with a woman I love must be sacrificed to gender ideology, but presumably either lacks the empathy to see the issue with that or perhaps the courage to stand up for the rights of homosexuals at a Pride event.
Pride was historically about civil rights, somewhere down the line it became fluff, a party, and an opportunity for corporate entities to show off how inclusive they are. Lesbians cannot join in with this party while even LGBT organisations deem female homosexuality transphobic. Pride marches should be a catalyst for lesbians to draw attention to the prejudice and discrimination they face, even when it comes from within the LGBT community.
LGBT organisations do not advocate for or represent the L. This is typified by their stance on gender identity (see Stonewall’s revamped definition of the word ‘homosexual’) but it by no means ends there. Where is the funding for lesbian-only spaces and groups? Lesbians face additional challenges when coming out or being openly homosexual because they are women; this is rarely acknowledged and women are not supported. We are concerned that young women who are lesbian and gender non-conforming are instead being encouraged to become straight transmen. This is modern conversion therapy. LGBT organisations are not listening to the concerns of lesbians, instead choosing to support coercion, gaslighting and deception of lesbians into unwanted sex. Unwanted sex is a synonym for rape. Lesbians need to form an independent movement for the benefit of our community.
Yesterday, Bradford Pride chose to try to intimidate and silence a group of lesbians defending their rights. I was nervous before we went out, but found that events unfolded in exactly the same way they have every time men have tried to make me be quiet throughout my life. I am not nervous now, I’m angry. Women are used to men trying to dominate, we also have a proud tradition of standing together for our rights. We will not be quiet.