It is Lesbian Visibility Week. African Rainbow Family is taking this week to educate to educate the public on the lives of Black and Brown coloured lesbian women who are either refugees or going through through through the asylum system.
A lesbian is a woman who is attracted to women emotionally, physically and sexually. Most definitions define lesbians as women who are sexually attracted to other women but they leave out the emotional part, the struggle to accept the love for women and themselves. Asexual women are lesbians too, so it is not just the sexual attraction that is present, it could be the physical attraction, or that you are attracted to personality as well.
On several occasions or most times various people have argued about who can be called a lesbian. This is mostly seen in the LGBTIQ asylum system where lesbians are not believed to be lesbians due to stereotypes in characterising Black lesbians seeking asylum.
Characteristics such as being previously married and/or having children are used to discredit lesbians seeking asylum, who fall into these categories. These characteristics also affect the confidence of women who identify as lesbians but do not have those features. Most people wonder if there are any lesbian women or gold star lesbians still around today. It seems to be that the erasure of lesbian history attests to the fact that these characteristics do not fully describe who a lesbian is. Most people think women who are masculine-presenting are only lesbians.
“There are lesbians in different shapes, forms and colour.” Says, Aderonke Apata – Founder & CEO, African Rainbow Family.
On this day, it is important to note that there is no distinguishing factor that shows anybody’s sexuality. There are non-binary people who identify as lesbians, trans women who also identify as lesbians. There are women who are in arranged marriages who are lesbians and women with children who are lesbians as well.
Do you know that most women who have been previously married to a man but identify as lesbians are most times not believed by the Home Office?
This is one struggle that some of our (African Rainbow Family’s) service users face when they attend for their substantive asylum interviews and are asked questions like ‘have you been married before and to who/what gender’’? Such questions are as a result of the culture of disbelief in the asylum decision making system. It is however, forgotten that lesbian women can have children and/or could have been forced into arranged marriage to please the society and/or families.
This week we would love to make visible the lives of the people we support:
Everyone in African Rainbow Family also wants to put out a remembrance for one of our own, Kittanna Hendickson (Kate), a trans woman and a service user in one of African Rainbow Family’s centres in Leeds, who died this month.
Kate was lively and always participated in all our meetings, and also contributed to our activities. It is a sad news for us and we pray that Kate’s soul rests in peace. Our thoughts are with Kate’s family and friends.
“Kate was a kind hearted person who enjoyed life and a lot of travelling. Kate was an out and proud trans woman, part of African Rainbow Family and gave love to everyone she came across.” Aderonke Apata continues.
“We remember you Kate, your story will not be forgotten’.’
We also hope that the health system is improved and accessible for trans women, non-binary people.
African Rainbow Family says: “Protect and respect the lives of trans, non-binary, lesbian women and gay men.”
BY NESSAKEM NWOSU – TRUSTEE, AFRICAN RAINBOW FAMILY