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Celebrating International Lesbian Visibility Day

Today, April 26th, we celebrate International Lesbian Visibility Day, a day dedicated to amplifying the voices and affirming the experiences of lesbian-identifying individuals across the globe. Lesbian Visibility Day was initially created to spotlight the ongoing fight for equitable treatment and rights for all lesbians while celebrating hard-won victories. But it's about more than furthering understanding – it's about fostering opportunities for open expression and disrupting the status quo. The concept of visibility alone speaks to the act of taking space and speaking truth – it's about being seen and heard, boldly and without caveat.

So what is a lesbian? Well, there are different and fluid manifestations of sexuality, but The Trevor Project articulates that "gay and lesbian people have the capacity to form attraction and/or relationships with a person of the same gender". A simple definition which speaks perhaps too broadly to the intricacies of identity. The umbrella is inclusive, encompassing a vast array of lived experiences and challenges – all informing how one navigates the world around them and just how safe it is to be visible. We acknowledge this diversity and do not seek to define the experiences of others.

Which brings us to today.

In a time when contemptuous ideology permeates all corners of society, it's easy to fall prey to false narratives. One such misperception is that days geared toward radical acceptance and allyship, are no longer needed – that equity and parity have been achieved. This couldn't be further from the truth. Persistent sexualization, discrimination and violence are still realities for lesbians and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities at large and the ramifications of silence will affect queer populations detrimentally.

But what would it look like to be an active ally? Well first and foremost, it's critical to be vocal in the face of misinformation. After all, to be comfortable is to be complacent. It's also always a good idea to take your lead from those who have been at the forefront of the fight for justice and acceptance; don't assume that you can speak on behalf of others and know that there is always room for growth or humility. Educating yourself on the living history of 2SLGBTQIA+ rights in and beyond Canada is a good place to start.

Consider learning more about the brave trailblazers who fought boldly for justice and made their voices clear, even when nobody wanted to hear them. There is much to learn about the turning points in queer Canadian history, such as the first lesbian pride march in 1981 or the history of "dyke marches". Additionally, we can't think of any day better to familiarize yourself with the homegrown queer heroes, who made unprecedented strides in activism, protections and the advancement of lesbians and other members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Moving forward, we need to nurture spaces made by and for queer women and lesbians, which by all accounts are on the decline. Cultivating supportive spaces, where communities can find strength in numbers and practice self-advocacy will help to encourage safe visibility. Further, those who do not fall within lesbian identities need to listen closely the voices of the community.

For this reason, we pledge ourselves to see those around us for who they are and who they always have been and to humbly learn from them. Today, and every day. Happy Lesbian Visibility Day.

"My visibility was such a threat. So that is my message about visibility: Be a threat. Refuse otherness. Refuse erasure."
– Victoria A. Brownworth

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