Melissa Vital ('23)


The term “lesbian” is typically used by people who identify as women and who are attracted to other women. For some, it means anyone who is not a man (one may be non-binary, for instance) and who is attracted to other non-men. The term has etymological roots reaching back over 2,500 years, to the period in which a Greek poet named Sappho of Lesbos lived. She was famous for her lyrical works, which included content regarding same-sex relationships between women. As a result, the term “lesbian,” as well as the adjacent term “sapphic,” came to be synonymous with that topic. Some women in same-sex relationships also (or instead) identify with the term “gay.”

Along with gay men in same-sex relationships, lesbian women have faced discrimination due to their sexuality for centuries. In most countries around the world, especially outside of the Americas and Western Europe, same-sex marriage is not legal. Homophobia, defined as the irrational fear of and discrimination against homosexual people, is prevalent even where marriage is allowed.

According to a 2021 Gallup poll, approximately 0.7% of American adults, or over 23,000,000 people in the United States, identify as lesbian. Along with other LGBTQ+ Americans, lesbian women have found a sense of community in certain places, such as the cities of San Francisco, California and New Orleans, Louisiana, where acceptance is especially common.

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