viernes, 26 de abril de 2019

Reality of lesbian women in Venezuela

Historically, women have been subjected to ostracism, violence, exclusion, the sphere of the private, to fulfill, often against our will, social roles imposed by society dominated by men.
It has not been different for lesbian women, on the contrary, we have been subjected to the same discrimination as heterosexual women and, also, because of our sexual orientation, also by some of our homosexual male friends and activist.

40 years have passed since the creation of the first gay group, Entendidos and almost 30 since the beginning of the homosexual movement in Venezuela in 1989 with the Movimiento Ambiente, both dominated by gay men and with minimal presence of women collaborators. The emergence of Amazonas, Women of Venezuela in 2001, was born as a force that sought to give voice to the lesbian woman and achieved it, for a time.

I can understand, perfectly, the fear that lesbian women can feel to go out into the public sphere, to show us, to make us visible. Yes, fear of rejection, to lose the love of our family, to lose a job, to be subjected to public derision in a deeply macho society. There are many years of accusations of being stigmatized as perverse, sick or sinful beings. However, many women in more difficult times had the courage to be authentic and not hide their sexual orientation. Women like Christina, Queen of Sweden, Anne, Queen of Great Britain, Gabriela Mistral, Chavela Vargas, Teresa de la Parra, Martina Navratilova, Ellen DeGeneres and many more.

But nowadays it is something that we have been surpassing worldwide. Today we have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants, with the Yogyakarta Principles, with a myriad of laws and legal resources that protect us. Countries that have been advancing in the recognition of our rights. All this has not happened by magic. It has happened because lesbian women and gay men have taken to the streets. They have done what most of us, lesbian women in Venezuela, do not dare to do yet, be visible.

Without a doubt, spaces have been opened for women as a result of many years of efforts of the feminist movement (heterosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, black women) and in alliances with other social movements. From the right to education, to work, to voting, to our sexual and reproductive rights. There is still much to be achieved, such as equality in the workplace, salaries, equal opportunities and balance of responsibilities in the home among many other pending issues. But let's not fall to lies dear sisters, let's not fool ourselves, those conquests are all geared toward heterosexual, feminine, white, upper class cisgender women. In the public sphere, we lesbian women with all our particularities remain invisible.

Except for a few Venezuelan actresses who have come out of the closet and for those of us who are in the field of human rights defense or activism, for the common of society we are all heterosexual women and that is how they treat us. In laws against violence, in gynecological consultations, in medical consultations, in inclusion plans, equality plans, parity plans, equality and political participation, in the demands for sexual and reproductive rights, in educational plans, economic plans, in the annals of history, in the great landmarks of society lesbian women remain invisible.

After thirty years of struggle for human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights movement in Venezuela and almost 50 LGBTI struggles in the world (with reference to the pride rallies), Venezuelan lesbian women do not have a solid movement. 

We are still locked in our houses. We remain locked in the closet, we are still hidden in the discotheques, we are still limited to anonymity in the chats, using false profiles and pseudonyms in social networks. We remain afraid that they will see us next to a very visible lesbian woman, or very masculine or very evident for fear of being identified as lesbians. And even when in positions of power, lesbian women choose to remain invisible and prefer to hide their sexual orientation, even though this is very evident to many.
And, no, I will not continue to place all the responsibility on gay men, on machismo, on heterosexual feminists. Nor do I pretend to blame lesbian women, I repeat I understand the history of rejection, but it is time to overcome that past. It's time to get up from our chairs, it's time to get out of our confinement. It's time to be visible, it's time to go out and claim and demand our rights. 

The moment is now. It has been too many years of confinement, too many years of being invisible. But each of us must admit our share of responsibility.

No one is obliged to come out of the closet, that is an individual process and each one must decide at the right time and according to their circumstances. But it is a very heavy burden to live a double life, to remain hidden. It is a terrible burden to keep an important part of our lives hidden. Hide our happiness next to the loved one, hide our chosen family, our partner, hide children, if it is the case. Nobody deserves to live with a hidden part of itself. The weight of maintaining a hidden life is greater than that of being a visible lesbian woman.

Being visible we expose ourselves to rejection, to violence, to contempt, to family rejection, to dismissals, but being in the closet we face exclusion, alienation, marginalization, physical and psychological damage and terrible diseases such as the cancer product of that feeling of internal rejection. The invisibility limits us in our rights, limits us as citizens, limits us in our dignity as human beings.

The decision to be visible is ours, of each one of us, but if you decide to do so, you must know that you have support, you are not alone. There are many more women like you, go out and look at them. Like you, they are full of fear but if you go out you will find them and we can then support each other. Lesbian women can create circles of friendship, sorority and mutual support, but to achieve this we must be visible.

And what will we gain by being visible?
We will win peace, rights, the possibility of loving in freedom, we will gain pleasure, we will gain dignity, we will gain health, we will gain fullness. We will win friendships, we will earn the respect of others for living outside the closet.
There is much to be done, being visible we can demand our rights:
We can demand that our families be legally recognized
We can demand the rights of our children be guaranteed.
We can demand gynecological protocols that contemplate our sexual practices.
We can ask for specific policies to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation.
We can demand that they consider us in the prevention plans of HIV-AIDS and other STIs.
We can demand to be included in the prevention of cancer.
We can demand that they have our reality in the equality plans.
We can demand that there be specific tools to address intragender violence.
We can demand to be included in family planning plans if you want to be a mother
We can demand that the day of lesbian visibility be an annual celebration
We can demand to be included in the studies and analysis of reality, present and past and that are made visible in the school curriculum.

We can help our parents, family and friends to better understand what it is to have a daughter, sister, cousin or lesbian friend.
We can contribute fully to the development of our country.
Let this be the beginning of a new era. A new time for Venezuelan lesbian women. One time marked by the courage to go out and face. To tell the oppressor that we will never allow ourselves to be invisible and to be discriminated against for being lesbian women.
It is time to get up and say with courage "I am a lesbian woman, I make myself visible to demand my human rights". Let's all be visible together to demand our human rights.

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