History

Signs and symbols: lesbian

By @pridematters1

In this series we look at signs and symbols that are associated with parts of the LGBTQIA+ Community. 

The Labrys 

The Labrys is also known as the double-bladed axe, and is from the Minoan Crete civilisation – a civilisation that is often portrayed as matriarchal. Since then, however, it has been used in more recent times to represent lesbian and feminism.
It has been used as its symbol since the 70s. Some women have it tattooed on their inner wrist, or as a pendant. 


In late Victorian times, when the use of term “Lesbian” was emerging, it was likely that if you were a gay or bisexual woman you may have given violets to the woman you love or have feelings for. This most likely comes from poetry that ancient Greek poet Sappho wrote:

“If you forget me, think of our gifts to Aphrodite and all the loveliness that we shared. 

All the Violet tiaras braided rosebuds, dill and crocus twined around your neck.”

The Greek island of Lebnos gives its name to gay females in honour of Sappho. Further, if you open a dictionary you will find the term Sapphonism which is an alternative to Lesbianism. A word that has now died away, similar to the gift of violets. 

There is a flag designed especially for women who identify as lesbian and feel they are grossly misunderstood because of stereotyping. Although little is known about its origins it is thought to have originated from a blog called This Lesbian Life.

The flag was born out of frustration of people disbelieving that they couldn’t be a lesbian because they were far to effeminate. To many, the flag stands for visibility of diversity, and educates the ignorance many within the LGBTQIA+ Community often feel. 

pictogram or “glyph” has been used to represent male and female genders since the 50s. In the 60s they were often seen on public toilets. As the LGBTQIA+ Community rose symbols were created to represent varying groups. The female pictogram represents Venus and so two adjoining of the same represents female homosexuality.

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