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You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
We are an open and affirming, multi-racial and multi-cultural, assessable to all, peace and justice oriented body of faith. We go into the community and God's disciples. Grounded by the teachings of Jesus the Christ, we uplift Christ's goodness, create spiritual community, and care for God's people and God's world. Dynamic hope, incredible compassion, extravagant hospitality, and radical love are our core values.
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Is “Lesbian” Becoming a Loaded Word?
Terminology is important, especially when it comes to the LGBT community: the use of the word “queer,” the spectrum of terms that relate to gender identity, and the words we use to describe sexual orientation are constantly up for debate and revision, with new words changing the way we talk about what it means to be LGBT (and Q, I, and A, depending on who you ask).
Does the term #lesbian to refer to a gay woman further divide the community? #LGBTQ Click To Tweet
Until recently, lesbian was a widely-accepted term, but more people are beginning to question whether having a specific word to describe a gay woman further divides the LGBT community.
A Brief History of the “L Word”
By now, most people probably know a little about where the term lesbian originated: the island of Lesbos was home to the poet Sappho, whose poetry centered around the lives and romantic encounters of women. For some time, the term was solely used to describe people and objects from the island of Lesbos, but the 19th and 20th centuries saw a change in the use of the word toward its contemporary meaning, especially when it came to medical studies of homosexuality:
- Documented – The first documented use of the word “lesbianism” to describe relationships between women didn’t occur until 1870, while by 1890 the term was included in medical dictionaries, but only as an adjective (as in “lesbian attraction”).
- Ignored – In medical studies of homosexuality, female relationships were often ignored, and were even considered not to exist. Male homosexuality was considered a much more pressing societal issue, but women who engaged in same-sex relationships were usually thought of as possessing masculine desires.
- Separate – By 1925, the word lesbian had entered common usage to describe women who were attracted to other women. Additionally, this contributed to the idea of lesbians as a subculture within the gay community.
For less than a century, #lesbian has been commonly used to describe sexual identity. #LGBTQ Click To Tweet
Despite its origins in ancient Greece, the word lesbian, as we know it today, is a pretty recent development. For many lesbians, widespread usage of the word helped form a sexual identity and resist society’s tendency to ignore lesbians or refuse to acknowledge their existence. It’s no wonder that the term moved from medical use to the most widely-accepted term: by having a word that specifically described female homosexuality, lesbians were able to make a place for themselves in society.
Using Lesbian to Include or Exclude
Since society’s attitudes toward homosexuality have significantly shifted since the term lesbian came into wider use, many women are beginning to question the continued use of the word. In fact, many lesbians now prefer terms like “gay woman,” while others view the word lesbian as overly restrictive, since it excludes sexual orientations that don’t fit neatly into gender binaries.
- Limitations – In a recent interview, Trish Bendix, editor of AfterEllen.com, discussed the limitations of the word “lesbian,” stressing the need to balance inclusion with concerns that losing the word lesbian could mean a loss of identity for queer women.
- Preference – Raina Bow, writing about the word lesbian for the Huffington Post, found that lesbians were somewhat divided about the terminology: while the percentage of women who preferred to be called “lesbians” was about equal to those who preferred “gay,” the majority of women didn’t care either way.
- Defined – Some other writers even questioned how we define a lesbian: while there are those who think the term should only describe a woman in a relationship with another female, there are valid concerns that this excludes women who desire a relationship, but are not able to pursue it.
As society shifts, some gay women are beginning to question continued use of #lesbian. Click To Tweet
Clearly, this is a topic that is only beginning to be widely explored, but there are already some excellent questions being asked about how the LGBT community can use terminology to include and represent a wider range of sexual and gender identities.
Is “Lesbian” Here to Stay?
Chances are, the word lesbian isn’t going anywhere. It’s too ingrained, both within the LGBT community and outside of it, to suddenly vanish. But as awareness of non-traditional sexual identities grows, so does the need for new language to ensure that all women are represented in discussions about sexuality and gender. The wider acceptance of the word “queer” has already shifted this conversation and allowed for greater diversity within the community, but the debates and discussions are ongoing.
We’d love to hear what you think about the word lesbian. Has it become too limiting, or do you consider it an important part of your identity? Be sure to let us know!