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Lesbian Visibility Week 2023: Everything you need to know about its significance in Sheffield

Lesbian Visibility Week (LVW) is important to lesbians all over the world, but what is it, and why should it be recognised in the Steel City?

What is Lesbian Visibility Week?

LVW is an annual event aiming to both celebrate lesbians and show solidarity with all LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people in the community.

The event, first set up by DIVA Magazine and Stonewall in 2008, runs from Monday 24 to Sunday 30 April.

It was originally conceived after the lesbian community claimed LGBTQ+ campaigns focused primarily on gay men and forgot about them.

Today, hundreds of events are held around the world to observe the awareness week, to give WLW (Women Loving Women) a platform.

Why is LVW important to the lesbian community in the Steel City?

Fiona Barrett, a 20-year-old who identifies as lesbian, said: “Throughout life I always felt so alone and that what I thought and felt wasn’t natural, especially growing up in a Catholic and conservative environment.”

The psychology student went on to say: “Even though I no longer think I’m alone in liking women, Lesbian Visibility Week reminds me continuously that I matter as a person, sexuality included.”

Heather Paterson, CEO of SAYiT!, an LGBTQ+ charity for young people, said events such as Lesbian Visibility Week are vital to make queer youth feel accepted.

Miss Paterson, 42, who identifies as a queer woman herself, said: “Whilst I work with lots of lesbian-identifying young people, Lesbian Visibility Week is important to me because I belong to the community too.

“There are lots of wonderful lesbian women in our community and it’s a great way to platform them in a positive way, away from the lesbophobia.”

What is ‘lesbophobia’ and is it a problem in Sheffield?

‘Lesbophobia’ comprises various forms of prejudice and negativity towards lesbians as individuals, couples, or as a social group.

This can come in the form of hate speech, fetishising, and even physical acts of violence.

SAYiT! also act as a third-party hate crime reporting service for LGBTQ+ individuals who don’t feel comfortable going to the police.

Miss Paterson said: “The number of hate crimes in Sheffield have definitely gone up.

“This is why it’s more important than ever to mark awareness weeks such as this.”

Miss Barrett said she’s faced lesbophobia in the form of fetishising in Sheffield, she said: “When I’m on a night out and kissing my girlfriend, the stares are sometimes awful.

“Cat calling and wolf whistling is what lesbian relationships are subjected to.

“Lesbians are seen as something for men to enjoy instead of respected.”

Which LGBTQ+ support groups and charities can lesbians find in the Steel City?

There is a wealth of LGBTQ+ groups in Sheffield. Below is just a few you can find as a lesbian:

  • SAYiT! Sheffield: a charity for LGBTQ+ youth aged 11-25 who hold weekly meetings for all members. The charity are also running an event on 17 May to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHoBiT) in the Winter Gardens. This could be a good way to get your foot in the door!

  • Andro & Eve Sheffield: a group who occasionally hold LGBTQ+ cafes.

  • Sheffield Voices LGBTQ+ Café by Sheffield Mind.

  • Stonewall Sheffield: an LGBTQ+ charity who hold who hold meetings.

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