This week, 25th April – 1st May, is Lesbian Visibility Week, with Lesbian Visibility Day falling on the 26th. This day and week are opportunities for celebration of lesbians and acknowledgment as to their contributions to the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights. The official day has been around since 2008 but a similar celebration used to be celebrated in the early nineties in West Hollywood where Lesbian Visibility Week would be celebrated throughout mid-July.
We had the pleasure of talking to Abi Hill, the founder of Nonchalant Magazine, a magazine dedicated to providing content for queer women and allies. To tie up this years Lesbian Visibility Week, we discussed what it’s like being a queer woman running a magazine, experiences with sexism, and the impact of creating content that is usually so lacking in our heteronormative society.
Trigger warning: discussions of homophobia and sexism
Q: Why is it important to have a magazine for and lead by queer women?
A: In my opinion it’s vital that queer women have a safe space online where they feel uplifted, accepted, empowered, and more importantly heard. Whilst creating content curated by and for the queer community, we also wanted to ensure that we provided content that was current, fun, and useful! Growing up in the 90s (yikes) meant that there was very little, if any, queer representation in magazines or on TV. I can only ever really remember negative stereotypes which of course is extremely detrimental to society. Also, as a queer woman myself, I found it difficult to find and/or access queer related content that was inspiring, entertaining & useful for me.
Nonchalant Magazine is slightly different from other queer magazines, we pride ourselves in covering all types of content and not solely focused on only queer material. Quite simply, we champion women who champion women. We provide a platform for our readers to be inspired by other women & reinforce positive views of being both a woman and being queer. Through our amazing queer role models stories (#NonchalantRoleModels), our readers can be inspired as to what they can achieve. Our aim at Nonchalant Magazine is to provide women, non-binary people, and specifically queer women content that will tell them what they are, and always have been- an absolute legend.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a feminist as a lesbian?
A: Feminism at its core is about equality of men and women. If I’m honest, I feel that being a lesbian doesn’t play into that argument, plus we’re fortunately moving on from a binary view of the world. I think it’s more about being a human and having strong beliefs about equality for all generally. We as humans must constantly challenge ourselves but also others in the obvious questions; do you believe that women and men deserve equal rights & opportunities? That queer and non-binary people deserve equal rights and opportunities? Do you believe that transgender people deserve equal rights and opportunities? That people of colour deserve equal rights and opportunities? Regardless of your race, sexuality or identity, everyone deserves equality and we are striving for that together. This is what it means to be a feminist (and a good human) in my eyes. We’ve come really far, but there is so much further to go in supporting those around us. I want to be part of that effort, and I want to continue to learn how to be a better feminist, and a better human.
Q: What has your experience been being a lesbian running a magazine? Have you ever received homophobia/sexism?
A: This is a great question, thank you for asking me this. In short, no I have not experienced homophobia directly from running Nonchalant Magazine. However, I think that is related to how far we’ve come with regards to how society views queer people since setting the magazine up in 2017. That said, we do on occasion receive homophobic tweets, DMs and emails. I don’t take these personally, and some of them are slightly hilarious, but sadly highlights that there is still prejudice out there. Prior to running the magazine I had experienced a lot of homophobia. I recall having a drink thrown over my group of friends at a gig and the word ‘dykes’ being shouted. Classic.
I personally had and still struggle with really bad internalised homophobia, so for the first 2 years of setting the magazine up I did not want to be associated with it and was embarrassed by it so I hid away from announcing that I founded it. Four years on I realised that that was very hypocritical of me and it didn’t represent what the magazine is or stands for. The Magazine actually helped me with some important self-reflection. I’m now extremely happy to showcase it and I am so proud of how far it’s come and what it does for women and the queer community. We have a team of extremely amazing people that write, edit and create for the magazine and I’m honestly so lucky to be around such amazing talent.
Sexism however, yes we absolutely do experience this on a regular basis. Something specifically is that we are bombarded with information from adult companies, mainly around sex toys and porn websites. This is, on occasion, something that we do write about and is entertaining for our readers but I do feel that we receive a lot more emails than we should. We have also received what can only be described as “dick pics” via email too. That is NOT what you need when you’re trying to enjoy your morning coffee. This sadly shows that the premise of being a lesbian has a direct link in some people’s minds to highly sexualised, and inappropriate associations.
Q: If you could share one message to the LGBTQ+ community and allies this Lesbian Visibility Week, what would it be?
A: Firstly, love yourself. Because you are amazing. Secondly, be kind to others because they are amazing. Lastly, come chat with us at Nonchalant Magazine because we are amazing. That was weak, but you get the gist!