Lesbians vs. Lesbians
- A Greek court has been asked to draw the line between the
natives of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos and the world's
from Lesbos - home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised
love between women - have taken a gay rights group to court
for using the word lesbian in its name.
One of the plaintiffs
said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual
and Lesbian Community of Greece, "insults the identity"
of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.
can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou. "Our
geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies
who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos," he said.
The three plaintiffs
are seeking to have the group barred from using "lesbian"
in its name and filed a lawsuit on April 10. The other two
plaintiffs are women.
Also called Mytilene,
after its capital, Lesbos is famed as the birthplace of Sappho.
The island is a favored holiday destination for gay women,
particularly the lyric poet's reputed home town of Eressos.
"This is not
an aggressive act against gay women," Lambrou said. "Let
them visit Lesbos and get married and whatever they like.
We just want (the group) to remove the word lesbian from their
He said the plaintiffs
targeted the group because it is the only officially registered
gay group in Greece to use the word lesbian in its name. The
case will be heard in an Athens court on June 10.
Sappho lived from
the late 7th to the early 6th century B.C. and is considered
one of the greatest poets of antiquity. Many of her poems,
written in the first person and intended to be accompanied
by music, contain passionate references to love for other
Lambrou said the
word lesbian has only been linked with gay women in the past
few decades. "But we have been Lesbians for thousands
of years," said Lambrou, who publishes a small magazine
on ancient Greek religion and technology that frequently criticizes
the Christian Church.
Very little is
known of Sappho's life. According to some ancient accounts,
she was an aristocrat who married a rich merchant and had
a daughter with him. One tradition says that she killed herself
by jumping off a cliff over an unhappy love affair.
Lambrou says Sappho
was not gay. "But even if we assume she was, how can
250,000 people of Lesbian descent - including women - be considered
and Lesbian Community of Greece could not be reached for comment.
Back to Mason's index....