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Lesbian


Lesbians in Society and Culture

Lesbians — Defending Their Rights

To further their interests and defend their rights, lesbians have formed various national, regional, and local organizations. Lesbians established the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955 in order to create a structure facilitating their coming out. Women in the Mattachine Society have addressed key women's issues while lesbian mothers formed the Lesbian Mothers Union.

Although, like gay males, lesbians tend to migrate to large and medium-sized cities, they are more likely than gay men to remain living in small cities and even rural areas, where they have formed communes and lesbian family living arrangements of various sorts.

Even in urban areas, lesbians are often the objects of discrimination, including within the workplace. Studies indicate that 25 percent of lesbians have experienced job discrimination based on their sexual-orientation, and over 60 percent anticipate possible negative consequences in the work place. The military, in particular, has been notorious in its discriminatory policies towards lesbians and gays.

Although white middle-class lesbians often are open to working in coalition with women of color, various African-American and Hispanic lesbians have formed organizations of their own. Lesbians of color constitute a "triple minority" as a result of their gender and racial/ethnic status and their sexual orientation.

Lesbians — Contributing to Cultural Genocide?

Many lesbians of color feel that they must subordinate their lesbian identity to their racial/ethnic identity. In addition to hostility from the larger society, lesbians of color often experience hostility within their racial/ethnic communities because they are seen as contributing to cultural genocide based on the belief that they have chosen not to engage in biological reproduction.

Aging lesbians experience discrimination from both the larger society as well as from within the lesbian community. A lesbian senior citizen may be denied access to retirement centers or nursing homes because of her sexual orientation.

Younger lesbians sometimes internalize ageist attitudes from the wider society which lead them to marginalize their older counterparts.

Some studies suggest that lesbian couples have sex less often than heterosexual or gay men. Furthermore, research indicates that lesbian lovemaking tends to focus more on the entire body (hugging, kissing, stroking) and less on the genitals (cunnilingus, insertion of dildos) than is true for heterosexual or gay couples. Most lesbians who desire to have children undergo artificial insemination, but some have turned to in vitro fertilization or adoption.

Children born into lesbian families may have one, two, three or more parents. Various lesbian family arrangements have evolved, such as a lesbian couple and a male (often gay) sperm donor who together raise a child, or families made up of a close circle of lesbian friends. All of these individuals may not reside together, but still consider themselves to be family members.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute


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