Social and Interiorized Lesbophobia in Spain
It was interiorized lesbophobia, or having negative feelings about lesbianism while being a lesbian. As if the mainstream gaze was inserted as a judgment inside me.
Spain, Southern Europe
Story by Laura Fernández Aguilera
Published on September 6, 2020. Reading time: 4 minutes
Content Warning: This story contains mentions of homophobia that can be upsetting for some readers.
I remember my process of accepting that I like girls as a slow and private process. I knew it, I felt it, I fantasized about it and started to be open about it when I was 13 years old. It was when I was 16 years old when I started to pronounce the word “bisexual” and later “lesbian” out loud. Years later, I discovered feminist activisms, I found myself some role models and I started to empower that part of me. I had relations with women and I even shared it with some people within my family. It looked like it was clear: I was lesbian. I didn’t talk about it far away from my confidence circles, but I existed, as many others had existed before me.
However, the lesbophobia has always been there in one way or another. In my case, it hadn’t manifested as physical violence, but as fear to disappoint others, as silences and concealment. It was interiorized lesbophobia, or having negative feelings about lesbianism while being a lesbian. As if the mainstream gaze was inserted as a judgment inside me.
When I started dating Gabriela, my current and first long-term partner, I was able to understand much better what lesbophobia is. The voices in my head were reaffirmed in the public space.
I realized I was scared to hold her hand when we were walking together in the street or kiss her if we were surrounded by strangers, while we live in a country, Spain, where this is legally possible. I wanted to enjoy the pleasures I had been dreaming about, but at the same time, people’s gazes were into me. I felt nervous, ashamed, judged and scared. Once, someone even reproduced the sound of throwing up, called us dirty and asked us to go home or to a hotel, because we kissed in a public park.
Luckily, I have a brave girlfriend. We both decided, for us but also for all the others, that nobody will take our pleasure to enjoy each other and to be who we are in the public space. As my fag friend Piro says, one way that the political right-wing parties manage the non-normative sexualities is to accept their existence but to delete visibility, sending us into the closet again.
I think about my story and about all the silenced and hidden stories that exist in the heads of other lesbians that cannot live freely in the public space. Maybe they can’t because their states don’t even recognize their existence nor guarantee their basic human rights. Or maybe they do, but the social violence is so strong that existing without fear is not a real possibility. Even in places like Spain, where our rights are legally recognized, the mindsets keep clinging to heteronormativity and our bodies are exposed to public opinion and judgment. A place where we are asked to kiss in private, so kids won’t see us and won’t be scared
But if these kids would actually see us, they might think they can also be like us and live their own love stories out loud while occupying their fair place in the world.
For these kids, for us and for all of them who are not able to do so, fighting against interiorized and social lesbophobia by responding to it on a daily basis, is my sound and proud commitment of today.
 I recently read about a report published by the International Association of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and Intersexuals (ILGI). The headline says: “Where being gay is illegal around the world”. I invite you to read it too.
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