(Montreal) Celebrated for the very first time in Montreal in 1982, Lesbian Visibility Day (JVL) aims to highlight the issues experienced by lesbian women and sexual diversity. Forty years later, the event still has its raison d’être.
Historically, these women have been discriminated against and “systematically made invisible,” says Tara Chanady, director of the Quebec Lesbian Network (RLQ).
In doing so, women were relegated to the background of the story; those who were homosexual, bisexual or trans occupy an almost non-existent place, with the consequence of inequalities that are sometimes more or less visible, which are added to other unfavorable treatment they suffer for simply being women.
“There is still a great misunderstanding of the realities of lesbian, bi, queer women; they are still invisible and it is embarrassing to talk about them. It’s important to promote a space to celebrate the accomplishments of these women,” said Ms. Chanady, who also refers to the rise of a certain right-wing ideology to reiterate the importance of the JVL.
Women are also underrepresented and marginalized within the LGBTQ2 community itself.
“It’s always important to make yourself visible, to campaign to be accepted at our fair value, because we’re not completely accepted yet,” says Geneviève Labelle, co-spokesperson for the JVL with her spouse and partner of Mélodie Noël Rousseau.
“With our queer feminist theater company [Pleurer dans’douche], we did a show called Ciseaux, and we wondered if it was still necessary to have these places [for sexual diversity ] or if society has become more tolerant, adds the latter. Unfortunately, there are still great inequalities. »
Madames Labelle and Noël Rousseau know what they are talking about; drag king artists, they do not enjoy the same influence as their male counterparts, who occupy a more interesting share of public space, thanks in part to the media coverage of this art, which is sometimes controversial.
The Naming to Exist campaign, launched by the RLQ on March 8 on the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day, aims to allow those who have been gagged to speak up again and reclaim who they are. eyes of the world.
The director is delighted to see more and more women appearing in the public square; she refers in particular to actress Debbie Lynch-White, politician Manon Massé and singer-songwriter Ariane Moffatt, who serve as an example for other women and who demonstrate that success is possible for these members of sexual diversity.
At the same time, other models of lesbian women are monopolizing growing media space, but are “formatted to appeal to the male gaze and the general public” without regard to their real representativeness, laments Ms. Chanady.
“It’s a kind of paradox, to see a lesbian with a purchase value, who is represented in the series often in the same way: a tall, beautiful, young, thin woman, she enumerates. This is not representative of all lesbians. »
The co-spokespersons of the day abound in this direction. “The butch, the more masculine lesbian, is less accepted,” says Ms. Noel Rousseau. In fact, male femininity is less accepted in the media and therefore less shown. »
Although the JVL is held annually on April 26, the RLQ is organizing a party this Saturday at the creative space Bain Mathieu, in Montreal, to celebrate sexual diversity among women. Panels on various issues experienced by these women and an award ceremony for activists who have contributed to the cause are planned.
“It’s important to celebrate each other, to recognize each other and to meet each other. It’s an event that is intended to be unifying and festive, because queer joy is important, “says Ms. Noël Rousseau, who will host the evening with his wife in the guise of their drag king alter ego.
The organization will take the opportunity to launch its book Lesbian Archives, which tells the story of “those who love women and who have shaped Quebec society in the shadows”.
“Women’s history has been written overwhelmingly by men, obscuring multiple narratives and perspectives. It was time for us to write our own, that of the pioneering women of sexual diversity who often remain in the shadows, despite superhuman efforts and luminous initiatives, explains Ms. Chanady. This non-exhaustive anthology aims to revisit the history of those who have marked it through our lesbian archives, from yesterday to today.