The Muted Lesbian Voice – Notes

The Muted Lesbian Voice: coming out of camouflage

© Nicki Hastie


To return to the page you have just come from, click on your browser’s Back button,
or click on one of the numbers to jump to the position of this note in the text.

See Lillian Faderman; Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women
from the Renaissance to the Present
(London: The Women’s Press, 1985), and Jeffrey Weeks; Sexual
Politics and Society: The regulation of sexuality since 1800
(London: Longman, second edition 1989)

Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society, p.102.

Richard Ellmann; Oscar Wilde (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1987) p.430.

Ibid., p.435.

Jeffrey Weeks; Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to
the Present
(London: Quartet Books, 1977) p.88.

Quoted in Weeks; Sex, Politics and Society, p.105.

Louis Untermeyer; Introduction to The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell (Cambridge:
The Riverside Press, 1955) pp.xxi-xxix.

Quoted in Lovat Dickson; Radclyffe Hall at The Well of Loneliness: A Sapphic Chronicle
(London: Collins, 1975) p.149.

Ibid., p.165.

Introduction to The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Women Poets ed. Jeni Couzyn (Newcastle
upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1985) p.21.

Winston Weathers, quoted in Dolores Rosenblum; “Christina Rossetti: The Inward Pose” in
Shakespeare’s Sisters: Feminist Essays on Women Poets ed. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar
(Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1979) p.95.

The effect of The Well of Loneliness trial.

For technical commentary see Jean O. Love; Worlds in Consciousness (University of California Press, 1970),
and early reviews in Virginia Woolf: The Critical Heritage ed. Robin Majumdar adn Allen McLaurin
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975). Mitchell A. Leaska (The Novels of Virginia Woolf
From Beginning to End
(London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977)) does discuss homosexuality
within Mrs Dalloway, although this is within a wider discussion of “confused sexuality” which
includes a detailed analysis of the symbolic function played by Peter Walsh’s knife in his
relationships with women.

Quoted in Suzette A. Henke; “Mrs Dalloway: the Communion of Saints” in
New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf ed. Jane Marcus (London: Macmillan, 1981) p.136.

Adrienne Rich; “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” in Blood, Bread
and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979-1985
(London: Virago, 1987) pp.23-75.

Suzette A. Henke in New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf p.135.

T. S. Eliot; Introduction to Nightwood (New York: New Directions, 1961) p.xiv.

Faderman; Surpassing the Love of Men p.358.

Gertrude Stein; The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (Stockholm: The Continental Book
Company, 1947) pp.93-4.

Named in Blanche Wiesen cook; “‘Women Alone Stir My Imagination’: Lesbianism and the
Cultural Tradition” Signs 4 (Summer 1979): 723.

“Olivia”; Olivia (London: The Hogarth Press, 1981) p.9.

Isabel Miller; Patience and Sarah (London: The Women’s Press, 1979) p.23.

Radclyffe Hall quoted in Dickson; Radclyffe Hall p.140.

Sharon O’Brien; Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1987) p. 189.

Pat Califia quoted in Jeffrey Weeks; Sexuality and its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and
Modern Sexualities
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985) p.186.

See Sharon O’Brien; Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice

Willa Cather; “The Novel Demeuble” in Not Under Forty (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1964) p.50.

Ibid., p.50.

Quoted in Barbara Fassler; “Theories of Homosexuality as Sources of Bloomsbury’s Androgyny”
Signs 5 (Winter 1979): 241-2.

Herbert Marder; Feminism and Art: A Study of Virginia Woolf (London: University of Chicago
Press, 1968) p.111.

See Fassler’s important explanatory essay, “Theories of Homosexuality” and, as an example
of such lack of acknowledgement see Sandra M. Gilbert; “Costumes of the Mind: Transvestism as Metaphor in
Modern Literature” in Writing and Sexual Difference ed. Elizabeth Abel (Brighton: The
Harvester Press, 1982).

Jane Rule; Lesbian Images (Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1975) p.115.

Allan E. Austin; Elizabeth Bowen (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1971) p.53.

See especially Mary Daly; Gyn/ecology: the metatethics of radical feminism (London:
The Women’s Press, 1979) and writings by the French feminist theorists.

Carl Van Vechten; Introduction to Three Lives (New York: The Modern Library, 1933) p.x.

Deborah E. McDowell; Postscript to Quicksand and Passing (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1989) p.256.

Alison Hennegan; Introduction to The Chinese Garden (London: Brilliance Books, 1984) p.11.

See Lillian Faderman; Scotch Verdict (New York: Quill, 1983).

As discussed earlier in this dissertation – click here to be reminded. A
quote from Lord Birkenhead is referenced as Note 6.

See Martha Vicinus; “Distance and Desire: English Boarding-School Friendships”
Signs 9 (Summer 1984): 601-22.

From Bonnie Zimmerman; “What Has Never Been: an overview of lesbian feminist
criticism” in The New Feminist Criticism ed. Elaine Showalter (London: Virago,
1986), p.208.

For example, Jane Rule’s Lesbian Images.

Christian McEwan; Introduction to Naming the Waves: Contemporary Lesbian Poetry (London:
Virago, 1988) pp.xv-xvi.

Adrienne Rich; “North American Time” in Naming the Waves p.170.

Caiea March; “A Message to the Collective” in Naming the Waves p.127.



< Top of page >

Recent Posts

What does your love look like?

We stand with Orlando ribbonSo here I am – driven to leave my quiet-ish hiding place (of late) and send some comments out into the world. It’s hard to have anything new or powerful enough to say about the atrocity in Orlando, FL, USA this weekend, but I must register my voice of grief, outrage, solidarity and connection with LGBT+ communities and allies everywhere. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected directly through the loss and injury of loved ones, and through the weight of being witness.

Some facts are clear. A heavily-armed man murdered 49 people and wounded 53 others at the LGBT+ Pulse nightclub. This was an act of hatred and homophobia (also biphobia and transphobia), and the majority of those targeted were people of colour during a Latina/Latino/Latinx night. All believed themselves to be in a safe place of celebration during a month of worldwide Pride events.

Here are some other commentaries which say far more than I can:

Latinx LGBTQ community response from Isa Noyola interviewed on Democracy Now (warning – this video contains a shameful clip of Donald Trump taking advantage of the massacre to spread anti-Muslim hate speech).

Orlando is just the tip of the iceberg – a powerful article by Jane Czyzselska, editor of UK Diva Magazine for lesbian and bi women.

Statement from the British Psychological Society recognising that members of LGBT+ communities experience high levels of abuse, discrimination and psychological distress.

I’m sad and angry and confused. It seems to have been a default position of mine recently. But at least these emotions make sense in these circumstances, even if I will never be able to understand how someone can plan and carry out such an attack. I am unable to understand any crimes of hate, whoever is being abused and killed. I have empathy beyond the communities I specifically identify with. It’s important I say this because some despicable individuals are already using the Orlando shooting to encourage different marginalised communities to turn against each other. We must not let that happen.

News sites are reporting (surmising) today that Omar Mateen was most likely gay himself and therefore chose to kill people in a LGBTQ venue due to intense self-loathing. As if this somehow stops the attack being an act of homophobia! As if it’s suddenly explained and means all others in wider society need take no further responsibility and can file it in a tidy box which requires minimal scrutiny: Oh, that’s alright, then – it was just one queer of a certain faith we can’t be bothered to understand killing a load of other queers we can’t be bothered to understand. They only have themselves to blame!

Don’t you see? No person starts out hating themselves or others. It comes from years of indoctrination and prejudice, where instead of  being embraced and celebrated, difference and diversity are viewed as the enemy. When you think of love, what do you see? Who do you include?

On Sunday 12 June, I posted this on Facebook:

Fuck! Why do some of us care? And the rest are intent on destroying the whole world. You don’t have to understand me to not want to kill me. I’ve spent my whole life trying to hurt no-one but myself. I shouldn’t even want to hurt myself. If there was more empathy for diversity, far more of us may survive.

All of my Facebook friends are trying to comfort each other right now.

I understand something about self-hatred. I really do. The agonising attempt to explain to yourself why recognising you’re different from a so-called ‘norm’, and regularly being misunderstood, can make you feel as if there is something fundamentally wrong with your whole being. That your very self is the problem. It’s sad enough when that personal inner struggle only destroys the individual experiencing it. But where does the destruction end when fear and hate is routinely justified? No-one decides to hate. It is taught and it is validated by legislation. The Orlando massacre comes after lawmakers in the US filed more than 200 anti-LGBT Bills.

This fear of difference goes way beyond sexuality. I have experienced this feeling of self-doubt, self-sabotage and insecurity around my mental health. Some of my close friends will know of a new journey of self-exploration I’m just embarking on. It’s not the time to talk about that but, ultimately, this will be positive for me, and I will write about it when I’m ready.

Actually, I’m not sure I have ever *hated* myself for being a lesbian. I just feel as if I’ve been bruised and punished a lot, and that is why the poem below refers to “being a lesbian / would be one / prompt apology.” I am who I am. I’m proud of that. I have not, do not, and I never will apologise. But I have always had to be ready to defend myself which can sometimes amount to the same thing.

It’s another blackout poem, taking words from an interview with author Emma Donoghue which appeared in the Observer Magazine on 8 May 2016. It makes a lot of sense to me, but I wish it didn’t mean so much. I wish I didn’t have to write about being sad, confused and fearful.

It was two weeks ago when I chose to highlight these words and create a new personal commentary. It doesn’t help much with understanding the atrocity in Orlando. But in light of the terribly sad events, perhaps I can ask you to read between the lines to find another space which invites connection, remembers to begin with love, and doesn’t have to end on hate.

Newspaper blackout poem from interview with Emma Donoghue

  1. Susan Calman and Me 2 Replies
  2. Some of us are Literary: Get Over It! 4 Replies
  3. Lost and Found: the importance of archiving for personal and cultural memory 2 Replies