Lesbianism is NOT just the sexual and romantic desire between females but it is also a bonding of friendship and love. Personally, I am sick and tired of homophobes focusing on the sex lives of the LGBTI community (as if we had sex 24:7 – like the Energizer Bunny! LOL).
We as lesbians and bi-sexual women have to claim and spread our herstory. Below, I have just focused on some stories in Ancient and Classical Greece. Do feel free to comment on others that you may have found. Thanks, paula.
Lesbian Herstory in General
Like everything else that has to done with women’s achievements (straight and gay), lesbian herstory has fewer historical writing and records compared to gay men. Yet, as lesbians, we have made leaps and bounds in discovering our herstory. Society is changing in most countries and families are releasing love letters of their lesbians sisters, wives, daughters and others.
Male homosexuals get more attentions than lesbians in a male-dominated Greece. Sappho and Alcman write about women-loving-women. Sappho’s poems discuss her love for both men and women. For instance, in Sappho’s Fragment One, the poet asks Aphrodite for aid in wooing another woman. In contrast to the rigid active/passive sex of Greek males, Sappho wants to give and receive love that goes beyond mere sex.
Alcman wrote hymns known as partheneia, which praises the attraction between women.
Plato’s in his work, Symposium, includes lesbianism in the Speech of Aristophanes. Another writer Asciepiades presents a descending view of lesbianism when in Asciepiades he states that two women rejected Aphrodite’s “rules” and did “other things which are not seemingly. Yet, this man was a homosexual!
In Greek mythology, the story of Callisto has been interpreted as implying that Artemis and Callisto were lovers. As a follower of Artemis, Callisto took a vow to remain a virgin, as did all the nymphs of Artemis. Of course, male myth riders had to turn the story into Zeus appearing in the form of female Artemis!
The Greeks did not change or try to interpret the myth of the Amazons who were strong lesbians.
It was NOT possible for me to get a photo of the red-figure vase in the Tarquinia National Museum (Italy) that shows a kneeling woman fingering the genitals of another woman, in a rare example of sexual activities between women being explicitly portrayed in Greek art.
It is extremely hard for lesbians to have straight men and women try and deny Sappho’s love of women. They have denied that the relationships involved sex and when they are forced to admit the lesbian sex, they attribute it to some sort of ritual! (LOL).
We do have some friends in Plutarch whose biography of Lycurgus of Sparta, claimed that the older Spartan women formed relationships with girls that were similar to the male homosexual relationships. We have to thank Sarah Pomeroy who writes that Plutarch’s depiction of homosexual relationships between Spartan women is plausible. For instance, she argues, in the girls’ choirs that performed the partheneia of Alcman, homosexual relationships between girls “would have flourished.” Pomeroy, Sarah B. (1995). Goddesses, Whores, Wives, & Slaves. London: Pimlico. p. 55.
We are claiming our lesbian herstory with pride and spreading it, particularly, to homophobic countries. We are proud and we are everywhere and have been since the Dawn of Civilization!
“A Happy Sappho Day to You!”