Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Well, it looks like the Lesbians have lost the right to exclusively use the term Lesbian.
Lesbians from Lesbos took a case to court in Athens demanding that a Greek gay representative organisation stop referring to the female homosexuals they represent as Lesbian.
Apparently, the inhabitants of the island of Lesbos are in general a bit miffed at how the name of their island, which is as stolidly hetero as the rest of the Greek isles, has been nicked by gay women.
This led to the immortal line uttered by one (male) witness during the case:
"My daughter is a Lesbian, my wife is a Lesbian and I'm a Lesbian too."
It's a little difficult to overturn the common usage of a century, and I'm inclined to look at this court case as a Canute-type attempt to hold back a tide.
At the same time, I do have sympathy for the inhabitants of the isle of Lesbos. The only reason that their name has been co-opted by gay women is because 2,500 years ago, one bisexual lassie who lived there once wrote some smutty verses about lady-loving.
And her name, rather than the name of the entire island, could perhaps more appropriately be used as a descriptor for gay women. And anyway, isn't the term 'Sapphic' so much more, um, poetic than 'Lesbian'?
Of course, 'Sapphic' has been around a long time, and never really caught on. So perhaps a whole new term could be introduced to replace Lesbian and give the poor people of Lesbos their name back.
It would also be a very magnanimous gesture from the Sisterhood to offer to give back the word. Not to mention a rare opportunity to redefine themselves.
A few options come to mind:
Galwegians might work. After all, Ireland's notoriously bohemian West Coast town is so laid back they certainly wouldn't mind sharing their name with the lady-lovers.
Or perhaps Irises. In honour of that gay friendly pillar of tolerance up in Belfast, Mrs Robinson.
Any other suggestions?