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(en) fae bahia [Brazil]: Lesbian Visibility: Affection and Resistance in Our Political Environments (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 13 Sep 2021 08:50:41 +0300

Reflecting on lesbianities and anarchist struggles is, in a first impulse, the search for names and materials about anarchist lesbians visible in history, a search that presents us with a gap of references. Asking why these absences leads us to two questions: first, the female invisibility within different movements, given by structural issues of machismo and misogyny; and second, the aggravation of this condition when we think of lesbian women, made invisible also thanks to lesbophobia. ---- Lesbianity and the issues surrounding it are systematically shrouded in invisibility, the history of lesbian women has been repeatedly erased or not taken into account in various contexts. Since lesbianity is a crack in the norm, a threat to the dominant heteropatriarchal structure in our society, which explains the great effort to erase it.

Thus, despite the male predominance also in our anti-capitalist circles, it is possible to find references to anarchist women, such as names such as Maria Lacerda de Moura, Lucy Parsons , Espertirina Martins and Emma Goldmann. Goldmann, in fact, was an important anarchist theorist who raised, in her trajectory, the banner of non-prejudice against lesbians and gays, being criticized even within libertarian contexts, after all, even the anarchist movement in her time was not free from discrimination against LGBTQIA+ subjects[1].

However, none of these women mentioned are lesbians, as far as is known. One of the few prominent names of publicly lesbian anarchists is Lucía Sánchez Saornil. Lucia was a militant anarchist and feminist, Spanish poet, known for being one of the founders of Mujeres Libres , an important autonomous organization of anarchist women, born out of the need to resist machismo outside and within libertarian circles.

The organization was articulated by the search for what they called the ''double struggle'', for social anarchist emancipation and for female emancipation. The Mujeres Libres had great expressiveness during the Spanish Civil War and is still an important reference in the gender debate and anarchism.

Lucia also served with the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista (SAI) and, among other things, published in important gazettes in the 1920s, sometimes using male pseudonyms to enter these spaces. She achieved the happy feat of exploring lesbian themes in a period when any break with heterosexuality was criminalized and female voices were secondary, yet we know little of her history in our circles.

Being a lesbian was a political and affective condition that constituted her identity. Lucia Sánchez, in addition to being persecuted as an anarchist, was also persecuted as a woman who loved other women. These identities were not separate, she undoubtedly treated her sexuality as part of her struggle and how she perceived the world and her companions around her. However, women's sexuality is rarely considered in the study of their resistance trajectories and, in most cases, it is assumed, beforehand, that they were/are heterosexual.

So, in addition to looking for these references, it is important to reflect on why sexuality is pushed to a place of lesser importance. Why is sexuality so often seen as a subject considered subjective, identity and individualized? Why don't we politicize our sexualities and seek to understand them as part of systems of domination or practices of revolution?

Since the struggle of women has been teaching us, for a long time, about how the private is political , and we know that, as much as we sell an idea that our sexualities only concern who we have sex or not, they are very more than that.

Heterosexuality, for example, is not just an option or personal taste that freely happens, it is much more part of a culture, a system, there are institutions committed to its maintenance and that benefit from it. Compulsory heterosexuality (RICH, 2010[1982]) serves capitalism, keeping women subservient to a logic of production and reproduction that is fundamental to this economic\political system of our society.

Thus, being a lesbian woman can also be read as a way to subvert repressive and normative logics. In these terms, we can think about how lesbianities have the potential to extrapolate private affective-sexual relationships, constituting other forms of interaction and solidarity between women, which can culturally modify the rivalries and subservience pushed to socially disciplined female populations.

The visibility of our sexualities is therefore political. And, therefore, it is necessary to think politically about relations, whether they are hegemonic or marginalized, also removing them from a liberal field that identified them only as isolated orientations, identities disconnected from structural issues and therefore not dialogued in our theories and anarchist practices. As Audre Lorde reminds us:

[...]this is the banner of cynicism on the right, encouraging members of oppressed groups to act against each other, and for so long we've been divided because of our particular identities that we can't all come together in one effective political action. (LORD, 2017[1983], p. 6)

Lorde also claims that our libido is not just the sexual energy we use in love relationships, but rather an energy that moves us to produce other forms of speech, to work and fight. Based on this, we can affirm that our desires, affections and relationships are also vital in the battles we fight.

It is necessary to rescue the history of the expressive movement of lesbian groups and activists in Brazil and Latin America, as an example we have the GALF - Grupo de Ação Lesbian Feminista, which was replicated in Peru, and which was responsible for the magazine Chana with Chana , considered the first lesbian publication in the country. The Chana Chana with even made direct reference to the Mujeres Libres and often brought discussions with libertarian themes, such as the notion of autonomy.

In 1983, in São Paulo, the GALF led the case of the Ferro's Bar uprising , where there were protests against the frequent repression of lesbian women and even the ban on the sale of Chana with Chana . This episode was the reason why August 19th was nationally considered Lesbian Pride Day, and we must not forget those origins.

The history of lesbian movements is marked by resistance and rebellion. Lesbian authors and activists were essential to bring to light relevant debates such as simultaneous, intersectional violence, addressed for example by the Black Feminist Collective Combahee River , composed of black, heterosexual and lesbian women, including important black lesbian authors such as Aude Lorde and Cheryl Clarke.

We can also remember the contributions of Ochy Curiel - Afro-Dominican and lesbian social anthropologist - who denounces the heterosexual character of the construction of the State and the idea of Nation in his works. She also seeks to politicize lesbianity beyond just a ''sexual orientation'', as does Dorotea Gómez Grijalva - a Mayan theorist from Guatemala - who defends the proposal of a ''political lesbianity''.

In Brazil, Heretika, an independent lesbofeminist and anti-capitalist editorial, has done an excellent job of translating and disseminating texts by lesbian, black feminist and anti-capitalist authors, thus democratizing, through zines, the reach of these writings and reflections. As anarchist groups, we also need to appropriate this knowledge in our internal and public formations. Even when not directly anarchist, many of these productions can contribute to the enrichment of our daily theory and practice.

Lesbian women have historically suffered from extreme exclusion, whether in[hetero]feminist movements, by those who did not want to be ''confused with lesbians'', or in mixed non-heterosexual spaces, dominated by gay men who monopolized the agenda. As well as in the left, where political parties underestimated, made invisible and diminished the struggles considered "homosexual" in general and even anarchist strands that crystallized the class debate as central and did not propose to weave an intersectional understanding of this debate .

Assim, podemos nos perguntar: Grupos anarquistas têm sido um espaço de acolhimento ou de exclusão para mulheres lésbicas? Companheiros e companheiras heterossexuais têm pautado suas lesbofobias internalizadas? Continuamos reproduzindo modelos de militância masculinistas? Temos oportunidade para debater sobre nossos afetos nos espaços de resistência?

Lesbianities are multiple. There are black lesbians, peripheral people, mothers, fat people, people with disabilities, rural workers, indigenous people. And the more intersecting these lesbian bodies are, the more violence they receive. Also from the State, the police and the capitalist labor market. The less feminized, the more excluded from professional spaces that profit from the hypersexualized sale of female bodies. Thus, lesbian women are sometimes seen as not useful, a hindrance to this production/reproduction system.

Public policies for the LGBTQIA+ population are important achievements, obtained through struggles, but they are also fragile and dismantled with each authoritarian change of government. Furthermore, the policies that have been instituted so far are secondary to the safety and health of women who interact with women. It is also necessary to guide the radicalization of these struggles, as self-management and autonomy have historically been words and actions dear to the survival of lesbians. As one of Heretika's reflections reminds us:

It is not by chance that rebellious and unyielding women are negatively accused of being lesbians. At different times, lesbianism, seen as a dysfunction, represented and still represents a threat to the norm of institutions such as the Church, the nuclear Family and the State itself. The fact that lesbianism is so feared and repressed by the State, reveals to us that there is political power and strength in the love between women.

I conclude then with this reflection and call for articulation: To what extent can anarchist struggle contribute to lesbian struggles, and to what extent can lesbian struggles contribute to anarchist struggles?


LORD, Audre. The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power . Translated by Tatiana Nascimento dos Santos - December 2009. R etirado Sister Outsider, 1984. In Texts chosen from Audre Lorde . Heretika Publisher (PDF)

LORD, Audre Transforming silences into language and action. Translated from Audre Lorde - "Foreign Sister" (Sister Outsider), Essays and Lectures, 1984.In Selected Texts by Audre Lorde. Heretika Publisher (PDF)

RICH, Adrienne. Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence . Bogoas. n. 05 | 2010 | for. 17-44

Lucía Sánchez Saornil . 2013. Available at: https://www.anarquista.net/lucia-sanchez-saornil/. Accessed on: Aug 25, 2021

[1]Acronym that searches cover the diversity of sexualities and gender identities, being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual, Queers, Intersex, Asexual and the + signaling the possibility of other identifications.

Posted by Specific Anarchist Forum

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