Lesbian campaigners tell us what Lesbian Visibility Day means to them

Lesbian Visibility Day, now embedded in the international LGBTQ+ calendar, is a celebration of the world’s diverse Sapphic community.

Held on April 26 every year, Lesbian Visibility Day showcases women-loving-women, providing a platform for lesbian role models to speak out on the issues facing female sexual minorities.

The origins of the day remain mysterious, but is has been running since 2008. Having initially started in the US, Lesbian Visibility Day – thanks to the wonders of the worldwide web – is now celebrated internationally.

To mark the occasion, PinkNews spoke to seven lesbian figureheads about what Lesbian Visibility Day means to them – and some of the issues that still need to be overcome to achieve global equality.

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall


Ruth Hunt (Stonewall)

“We’re still not mainstream and not all lesbians are visible. Representations of diverse lesbian identities continue to be extremely limited.

“There’s much more to be done before lesbians from all backgrounds feel included and see themselves reflected in society.

“Now, more than ever, we need to recognise that lesbians exist in all communities and raise the profile of diverse lesbian identities.

“We need to listen to the experiences of lesbians who are disabled, older, black, Asian and minority ethnic and trans, as we continue to push for film, TV and literature to tell their stories.”

Phyll Opoku-gyimah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of UK Black Pride

Phyll is co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride (UK Black Pride)

“Lesbian Visibility Day is important, as are so many other days, because this day allows us to celebrate lesbians here and abroad.

“These include the lesbians who have come before us, and those who have paved the way, as well as lesbians today who are raising the roof, and younger lesbians, who are our future leaders.

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“Lesbian and bi visibility is about being proud in all our shades and experiences, which is vital by virtue of our very existence.

“As a black lesbian woman, I love my complexities, nuanced ways, and richness. They allow me to amplify my voice and be heard and seen 365 days of the year, when often parts of society wish to erase my lived experience.

“We have a great deal of work to do in amplifying the experiences of all lesbians, which has to take an inclusive approach.”

Claire Harvey, Paralympian and Chief Executive of Diversity Role Models

Claire Harvey, Paralympian and chief executive of Diversity Role Models

“Lesbian Visibility Day is when we simply take time to see one aspect of both the diversity that is always around us, but also the intersectionality of all of us.

“Being a lesbian is one of the core aspects that make me who I am. In our busy lives, it’s key to [feel able to] say: ‘Yep, that’s who I am. If I had to hide that part of me, or if I wasn’t able to love my partner, it would really impact on my ability to thrive.'”

“It’s important that young women see that you can love other women – or be bi or pansexual – and be happy, confident, successful and a great role model.

“It breaks down stereotypes and challenges peoples’ perceptions, and that can only help the next generation grow up without the sense of fear, shame and isolation that many of us grew up with.”

DJ Ritu, Disc Jockey and LGBTQ+ Activist

DJ Ritu (Simon Richardson)

“This celebration is a day when we can rejoice in who we are, and every aspect of ourselves. A day to be out, proud, and fully resplendent as women that connect with other women. Everyday should be like this.

“Gender equality is still a utopian goal, and women are often overlooked, and marginalised, in the workplace, on the street, and in history.

“Our skills, qualities, and achievements often go unrecognised or uncharted, and this inequality is compounded for women of colour, women with disabilities, and women that don’t conform to ‘heterosexual norms.’

“Having at least one day per year when we can claim some prominence, and also find strength in numbers, is more than welcome – as well as vital to address imbalance.

“Lesbian Visibility Day is particularly pertinent this year in the wake of the #MeToo, #TimesUp, and the gender pay gap campaigns.”

Aderonke Apata, Human Rights Activist and Founder of African Rainbow Family

Aderonke Apata, human rights activist and founder of African Rainbow Family

“Lesbian Visibility Day means a lot to me. I see it as a day when we can celebrate who we are as people who don’t conform to the heteronormative narrative. 

“At African Rainbow Family we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day and continually use it to raise awareness about lesbians of colour, as well as for demanding a fair and humane asylum system for lesbians.

“It is important that we are visible as lesbians in order to avoid our erasure. There are many lesbians around the world that live in fear of freely identifying [as gay]. In 36 Commonwealth countries, same-sex love is illegal.

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“The more we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day and continue the conversation, the more we raise awareness about the fact that love is not illegal. We can encourage lesbians in the closet to ‘come out’ and demand their freedom.

“This brings me back home to lesbian women that are seeking asylum in the UK and other countries. The treatment of lesbians seeking asylum in the UK by the Home Office is disgraceful and appalling…they don’t believe you can be a lesbian and have children, or have been married previously due to conforming to societal norms.”

Jane Czyzselska, a Psychotherapist and former Editor of Diva

Jane Czyzselska, a psychotherapist and former editor of DIVA (Holly Falconer)

“I’m glad this day exists but, in a better world, it wouldn’t be necessary.

“Lesbian Visibility Day is important because, despite the improvements in legislation in the UK, lesbians are still often erased from or face challenges in public life, cultural productions, their families of origin and some faith organisations.

“Because of enduring white cis-hetero-patriarchal norms, some lesbians still feel forced to hide parts of themselves. And lesbians young or old, who may not yet have found a community, are fearful of real and harmful prejudice.”

Elly Barnes, CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate

Elly Barners, CEO and founder of Educate & Celebrate (Naz Simsek)

“Lesbian Visibility Day is the celebration of women – trans women and queer women of all races, religions and nationalities – just getting on with their lives and being able to be themselves without fear of discrimination.

“This day, alongside other queer celebration days, is still an integral part of moving forwards to create an intersectional land of social justice where all are treated equally and fairly. We are on this journey, but we must not stop driving the rainbow bus until we get there.”