We spoke to Char Bailey on our Wednesday Instagram Live about Lesbian Visibility Day. Char is the co-host of community podcast, volunteer education officer and a life coach. Char celebrates Lesbian Visibility Day which takes place every year on the 26th of April and was featured on a panel talk hosted by PINK News last year.
We asked Char if she thought Lesbian visibility day was needed
Char divulged that when she was younger she didn’t think brown people could be queer, this was and still does remain a common misconception. This changed when she saw Lady Phyll, who was visible, and without that, she would have remained believing there wasn’t a place for her. Char explained with a quote she likes; ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, and growing up because she didn’t see herself it prevented her from becoming herself.
We discussed how stereotypes often come into play
Lesbians are typically seen as women who play sports, who are ‘tomboys’ or who act ‘masculine’, and on the reverse, women who are feminine could not possibly be lesbians. Visibility days are important because they help to break narratives shaped by patriarchal ideas, they make all types of lesbians visible, no matter how they present themselves to the world. That is why visibility days are needed. Char went on to explain that if you search on google it’s not about lesbian women, there is a lack of wholesomeness and that the results tend to be pornographic or stereotypical. What being a lesbian means to her, is very different to how people view Lesbians outside of the community, looking in. For Char it’s about changing the lens, it’s about showing a different view. ‘There’s no wrong way to be a lesbian, you just are. you have to show the diaspora and the spectrum of queerness so that anybody out there can identify. And we start to change and direct our own narrative as lesbians.’ Being a ‘lesbian’ often means being sexualised under the straight gaze. The day is important because it allows for there to be a space and time to show that lesbians do exist in all forms, not just the stereotypical google search.
We asked about the celebration aspect of Lesbian visibility day and whether it was something that Char was actively excited about
Char told us that the launch of Lesbian visibility week this year was ‘a standout moment.’ She stated that due to the emergence of TERF’S- TERF is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist- as the trans community became more visible, a lot of people assume that all lesbians are TERFS- especially following an incident a few years ago when TERFS stormed the Pride march in London. Char said that it has now become even more important for lesbians as the L in the LGBTQA+ community to show solidarity. To support the rest of the community by celebrating themselves and showing that there is a whole spectrum of lesbians; ‘We’re different and we embrace you all….. that’s what it takes to start changing the narrative.’
Char’s advice for brands when they wanted to work with different communities, throughout the year.
Char said that due to her autism she tended to view things in ‘black and white’, and there was only one way for brands to do this and that was to become inclusive. This means the people who work for the brand have to be representative of the communities they want to collaborate with, without this tokenism happens. Brands have to build their teams with marginalised groups in order for the representation, and inclusiveness to be genuine and to have longevity. This means they won’t have to look far for answers on how to be inclusive because they have immediate access to those communities within their teams. For Char it is about making sure that people who have the experience should be the people to share that experience, only they really know, those without it can understand and empathise to a point, however when it reaches that point they should ‘pass the mic’ if we don’t aim for inclusivity we will stay in the same place.
The celebration of Lesbian Visibility Week has not come without its challenges, with Facebook taking down an advertised banner that celebrated the week after reports were made that it was linked to pornography. For Char, this sort of action taken by Facebook is exactly why visibility days are needed because that shouldn’t happen in 2020. The celebration of Lesbian VIsibility week is fundamental for Char as for her it is about connecting with the wider global Lesbain community. ‘When people come together we are powerful when we all sing the same song the volume is louder, regardless of the accent you are singing in, if we all sing the same thing, people will hear us.’
Visibility days are about representation, education and celebration. When these come hand in hand, for communities who are often left on the sidelines, a day of visibility becomes fundamental, ‘we don’t have to be in uniform to be unified’ Char poignantly noted and at Seven Six agency we couldn’t agree more.