July 25, 2012 § 1 Comment
“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency. Lesbian women inspired me from childhood on to claim the space of my own self-definition.” — Bell Hooks
Last year I walked in Salt Spring’s Pride Parade, which is quite an eclectic assortment of individuals both gay and straight who come out in droves to support the gay community on the island. Now, even though I am not gay, I felt moved to participate in the march last year for no other reason than that I care about equality, justice, and human rights. I also happen to have a dear cousin who is lesbian and have had many close friends throughout my life as well who are gay and lesbian. Why should these precious individuals ever experience any discrimination because of their sexuality. It takes all of us — gay and straight alike — to change the status quo and to take a stand.
I recently read “Feminism is for Everybody” by Bell Hooks — a mind-blowing fantastic author who I should have read many years ago! Hooks is a straight black academic woman who teaches at City University in New York, and she is also a revolutionary feminist thinker.
In one of her chapters she talks about the advances that were made for women’s rights due to the work of lesbians who “helped form the women’s liberation vanguard.” She notes that simply being gay does not in and of itself make one a feminist, of course, and yet, many of the advances that took place for women in our society were spurred along by courageous lesbians who were willing to speak out for justice and to live lives of their own choosing.
Bell writes: “Our freedom as women to chose who we love, who we will share out bodies and lives with, has been deeply enhanced by the struggles of radical lesbian women both on behalf of gay rights and women’s rights.
“Without radical lesbian input feminist theory and practice would never have dared to push against the boundaries of heterosexism to creates spaces where women, all women, irrespective of their sexual identity and/or preference, could and can be as free as they want to be. This legacy should be continually acknowledged and cherished.”
This year, I pay homage to the courageous women who came before me, many of them lesbians, who had to confront numerous challenges in order to be themselves — they changed the world and made it a better place for us all.