Philip Baldwin  

Lesbian Day of Visibility is marked on 26 April, with Lesbian Visibility Week taking place from 24-30 April. Ahead of this occasion, it was great chatting to Baroness Liz Barker, who campaigns for all LGBTQ+ people. I began by asking why Lesbian Visibility Week is important to her… 

When I was young, there was no visibility, just fictional caricatures and they were not realistic representations of lesbian life. These days, it’s important we have a wide variety and diversity of lesbians so young people know that they can be themselves. We’re professionals, have families, are notable individuals or sometimes ordinary individuals. We are there to be respected alongside everyone else. 

 

Which LBTQI+ women inspire you? 

 That’s changed over time. We went through the phase of people being outed, like Maureen Colquhoun MP and Billie Jean King, whose public appearance was traumatic. Billie Jean King went on to be a trailblazer, an inspiring and decent woman who fought not just for women’s equality but for justice and human rights for everybody. We’ve now got to the point where we can celebrate people who are not trailblazers, they’re people who are quietly getting on with jobs and their lives. That’s very important in terms of equality. 

 

Are lesbians sometimes left out of conversations about LGBTQ+ rights? 

 I think we’ve always been a part of the conversation. Lesbians have always been there, from decriminalisation to HIV. It’s just that sometimes our stories are told in ways which are quieter, but none the less as important. Sometimes we don’t shout as loud as the blokes. But we are very much part of our community. Lesbians are absolutely front and centre. 

 

What about conversations about women’s rights? 

 Yes and no, in that a lot is being manufactured at the moment as part of the anti-trans debate, to say that lesbians are excluded which is not true. What is true is that there are debates, for example, around women’s health where lesbians are ignored. Quite often in the medical profession they tend to think about conditions rather than people. It’s probably more thoughtlessness or lack of awareness, rather than deliberate discrimination. Stonewall, LGBT Foundation, TransActual and the business organisations are working very hard to ensure we are no longer ignored. 

 

What would your message be to LBTQI+ women in 2023? 

 Celebrate our diversity. We live in a time when there is a highly organised campaign to divide and conquer. The only people who will benefit from that division are men, the patriarchy. I think we should celebrate the fact that in 2023 we are all diverse, able to discuss differences within our community in a helpful way and not be at each other’s throats as some people would like us to be. We will grow in strength, and we will give the next generation more hope than we had when we were young. 

 

Follow Liz Barker on Twitter 

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