This is something I’ve been thinking on for a while. In the West, we’ve seen rapid changes in the rights and perceptions of gay and lesbian people throughout the last decades of the 20th century and into the 21st century. This has been a positive thing, that has resulted in gays and lesbians achieving levels of equal rights under the law in ways that were well nigh unthinkable even just a few decades ago. However, I also think this rapid cultural and political evolution has led us to a situation where the previous configurations of attitudes to gay and lesbian people have changed so much that thinking in terms of the old LGB alliance, based on an assumption of overlapping interests, has become irrelevant.
The most pertinent fact here I think, is that gay men have finally been able to negotiate their way into the Men’s Club with all its accompanying patriarchal power, whereas previously they were largely locked out due to being disqualified, as it were, because of their sexual orientation.
That’s not to say that homophobia against gay men no longer exists; however, I think any analysis of contemporary political media and pop culture will show a great deal of visibility for gay men and their issues, largely portrayed in a sympathetic and positive light. Portrayals of gay men have also moved on from the often stereotypical and sensationalised depictions that existed during the 90s and early 2000s (think Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Birdcage, Queer Eye for the Straight Gay etc.) to showing gay men more as being regular men with various interests and personality traits who happen to be gay (the way Kevin from popular show Riverdale is handled is a good example of this).
Meanwhile, despite theoretical legal equalities, things have gone backwards for lesbians in real terms. Lesbians have less acceptance and visibility than previously, to the point where we have pretty much lost the right to association, and are back to underground style secret meetings as used to happen for much of the 20th century.
That’s why I think it’s no longer useful to think about the Ls and the Gs as being in any sort of alliance. The cultural and political landscape has shifted so much that those areas of overlapping oppression we used to share have largely disappeared, and gay men have shown themselves perfectly happy to side with other men in order to throw lesbians under the bus.
I really do feel our current situation in the West is more like Ancient Greece, where men being with other men was perfectly acceptable, whilst lesbianism was still unacceptable due to men wanting to control women’s bodies and reproductive and sexual labour.
We are at a junction now, in 2018, where lesbian spaces have been consistently targeted and destroyed for over a decade. Lesbians are increasingly shamed in different ways by both the Left and the Right for experiencing same sex attraction, and are often bullied out of womanhood altogether by being convinced they need to transition or identify as nonbinary.
Young lesbians, instead of finding a flourishing lesbian culture, are being shunted into trans/queer spaces that are inherently hostile to lesbians. They are shamed for their sexual attraction to other women with extremely lesbophobic language that pathologises lesbian sexual desire – particularly the phrase ‘vagina fetishist’. They are shamed for their gender nonconformity and encouraged to disidentify from womanhood and become trans or nonbinary. They are shamed into dating male bodied persons and engage in sex that is at best ambivalent and at worst corrective rape.
Any sort of publicly advertised lesbian only event is accused of being exclusionary and transphobic and shut down, almost always by left-wing activists. This leads to many situations where lesbians are alone and isolated and completely unable to connect with other lesbians at all.
While the gay male community has also experienced some infiltration from trans individuals and their legions of supporters, the numbers tend to be much smaller, and the infiltrators are often not taken seriously or listened to as they are biological women attempting to tell biological men what to do, and that simply doesn’t fly in a patriarchal system where power is always weighted towards favouring men over women.
The issue is that the vast majority of men gay men, not being as affected by the trans issue, and also enjoying greater social visibility and acceptance, simply don’t care about what is happening to lesbians. In fact, almost the only time we hear gay men speaking up about this issue, it is to chastise lesbians for not opening up our spaces to trans identified males, or telling lesbians that indeed ‘transwomen are women’ and we should just get over ourselves and our transphobic vaginas and get on that ladydick.
Viewing this behaviour of gay men with the understanding that we live in a male supremacist culture, this does actually make sense. Gay men are supporting their bros who want to fuck and colonise lesbians. Why wouldn’t they? Of course their allegiance is going to be to another group of men, and not to women. That is how patriarchy survives and perpetuates itself. Indeed, given that gay men have only recently begun to enjoy the full rights of patriarchal masculinity, they may in fact be MORE EAGER to prove their allegiance to other men who have granted them this honour. Meanwhile, trans identified males also let gay men off the hook of having to accept trans identified females (transmen), because TiMs are not concerned with supporting women, not even when they’re deluded women who have caught the trans bug and think they’re gay men. Instead, TiMs respect the rights of other men to define their sexuality and their boundaries, in this case gay men.
In the rapidly growing area of trans identified children and teens, the numbers of girls who are presenting with trans identities is far outnumbering boys. Undoubtedly there are young boys being transed who would grow up gay if left alone, but the latest numbers suggest that, again, it’s the next generation of lesbians who are being disproportionally affected by this, as well as numerous other girls who don’t ‘identify’ with the current degraded status of the female condition.
So given all these factors, I really think it’s time to accept not only that the LGBTQ+ is a failed political experiment on a grand scale, a twisted nightmare of authoritarianism in which straight people get to colonise and police gay and lesbian identities in disturbing ways, but that the LGB itself is also dead.
Lesbians need to get over the idea that there is any solidarity or political safety left within the concept of the LGB. There isn’t. We’re effectively in Ancient Greece, not 80s or 90s era USA, and our political strategies need to reflect that reality. Similarly, I think that heterosexual allies who want to support lesbians need to realise this as well. Yes, we absolutely need to get rid of the LGBTQ+ movement, but supporting a return to the LGB is not the way to go either, because the cultural and political environment has changed too much for that to be a meaningful concept. Gay men are being increasingly integrated into mainstream acceptability, whereas lesbians are being increasingly targeted and destroyed. So forget the LGB and support lesbians. Understand that lesbians are an extremely small minority with little visibility or political power who have been on the front lines of this aggressive misogynistic roll back of women’s rights longer than any other group of women.
Also: to all the lesbians out there – you are amazing and we will get through this, just as we have every other attempt that has been made over thousands of years to erase us. This latest steaming pile of shit will not bring us down.