Discovery and insights
Due to the sensitivity of queer topics, I collected queer women's perceptions and their expectations for the future anonymously by displaying prompt questions.
After talking to 30 queer women about their perceptions and experiences of invisibility during #lesbianvisibilityweek, I found that invisibility mainly refers to the lack of social acceptance of their identities due to stereotypes and the lack of diversity in how queer women look and act. However, the media representation under the patriarchy, which lack of diversity makes it difficult for them to form a social identity and spread their voices.
In the process of collecting anonymous opinions offline, a discussion was accidentally opened and attracted more people to join (as shown in the picture above). I recognized the desire of queer individuals to communicate with each other, and the potential of a nudge in opening dialogue spaces.」
What makes queer women invisible?
- Underrepresented in women's rights research, advocacy, and the media;
- Historically erased from queer narratives, making individual's voices more invisible and unseen, not to be represented, not to be witnessed
- Be ignored or oversimplified in the social science literature, there are challenges to the visibility of lesbians and how to normalise them from invisible groups
l With themselves: proving to be ‘weird’ by dressing
l With friends & parents: not believed in when coming out
l Within the community: lack of acceptance sometimes
l In society: assaulted and/or sexually harassed by heterosexual men; straight passing
Why does visibility matter?
- Visibility is a social process that helps queer women explore, recognize, accept themselves, and identify with each other through role models and representation;
- Its a witness to queer women's identities, beings, desires, sexuality and empowers them to pursue themselves;
- At the same time, it means that queer women can find better sense of belonging and community to support each other so that their experiences, feelings and truest selves are seen, understood and witnessed , accepted and recognized;
- It also means that they have more freedom to express and be heard.
I invited 20+ queer women to write anonymous letters, collected their experiences of being stigmatised, and tested their motivations of writing letters as a prototype.
What is stigmatization?
Stigmatisation means that queer women get stereotyped about what they should and cannot do in a patriarchal society.
- With parents: take more responsibilities; be a good girl; to marry a man
- With same-sex friends: exploring the balance and trust building between desire and same-sex friendships
- In LGBTQ+ community: barriers to choosing a partner due to sexual orientation stereotypes
- In society: changes in appearance are seen as pleasing others rather than looking for oneself
Through verification from interviews, it was learnt that they hope to be understood and see more role models, which can help them see themselves and their expectations for an ideal future through similarities. Role models not only appear in the media but also in everyone in the community.
This not only verifies the needs of queer women to interact and express with real people in queer space; it also emphasizes their deep desire of being seen, heard, accepted, and understood for a wider social impact
-QUEER WOMEN'S SPACE
What is queer space for queer women?
For them, queer spaces aren’t just places to meet or drink, they’re community hubs where people can feel safe, be themselves and learn about their histories.
By surveying the status quo
Urban spaces often don’t make queer women feel safe, equally welcome, or belong, making queer women-friendly spaces in cities becomes discontinuous. During the past decades, queer venues have been rapidly declining globally, which has been driven by complex social and economic changes, and are interwoven with the development and gentrification of cities.
Likewise, The Common Press’s bar announced its closure this February.
From observations in TCP
Lack of connections and opportunities to meet:
In The Common Press, many customers from other cities hope to have more opportunities to interact with people, but because of limited access or unknown space, many people can only read books alone and go to the next destination;
Understanding the community
Lack of sustainable communities:
- Lack of communicators of history.
- The current queer female community and activities are mainly centralized activities. Due to the high-speed population mobility in the community and in the city, the community is unstable.
- Community connections are more based on individuals and lack sustainable community mechanisms to support everyone, and their voices are unheard by a wider community.