I came across an article by Stella Duffy over the weekend called Standing In The Shadows: Invisible Lesbians. Stella Duffy calls for lesbians everywhere to come out and be counted, but I’m in two minds about whether this is something I could do – and unsure about the process.
Stella Duffy urges that “It’s up to all of us to step up, come out and start showing ourselves. Time’s up for the incredible invisible women.”
I’m out to my close friends, and what started being just a few people at work has snow-balled into what feels like the whole company. Lesbian rumours spread quicker than wild fire! Luckily my work life is completely separate to my home life so the Chinese whisper of my sexuality did not reach my family. I was able to tell them myself when I was prepared. So I am out. But I do not openly talk about my girlfriend at work, or advertise my sexuality, so in other ways I suppose I am still in?
I agree with Stella Duffy that as a minority, gay women need to be visible in order to fight for equality, or stand up against discrimination. However, I think for a lot of people coming out can be incredibly complicated and a scary experience. The imagination is a powerful thing, and although I have not yet had to deal with a really bad reaction, it took a huge amount of courage to think I can do this and move things forward in just my personal spheres.
There must be lots of women like me who are out in some parts of their world, and hidden in others. In what parts of the world would Duffy like us to make ourselves visible? Should I be out protesting calling for equal rights, or is not enough that I am challenging every colleague, friend and family member that I out myself to? It would have been useful if Duffy could have been clearer about exactly the shape of this mass “outing.”
As Duffy points out, I too am hugely indebted to the women and men of all sexual orientations, who won for us the freedoms and rights in the West that we frequently take for granted. But does every challenge need to be public to be important?
Other stuff about Stella Duffy I found along the way: