Since today, Easter Sunday, is a special day, we have awarded Lesbian Of The Day to a truly holy woman in the lesbian world: Sappho.
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poetess, born on the island of Lesbos sometime between 630 and 612 BC. Little is known about her life as the bulk of her poetry has been lost, but the few surviving fragments have cemented her reputation as one of the ancient world's great poets.
Of course her name and birthplace are the sources of the words "sapphic" and "lesbian".
Here is a fragment of one of her poems:
Some the army of cavalry, others of infantry
or of ships say upon this dark earth
that is the fairest. But I say fairest is that: whoever you love.
It's easy to make this clear to all.
For she who far surpassed all human beings in beauty, Helen
abandoned the finest man and to Troy sailed,
and neither her child nor her beloved parents thought her, not for a moment.
This made me now think of Anaktoria, not being here anymore, Oh I wish I could see the enamoring step and the shiny glare of her face, rather than Lydians' chariots and infantry's battles and armor.
Love shook my soul, like on the mountain the wind upon the oaks falls.
Mary Renault was a British writer best known for her wonderful historical novels that recreated in Ancient Greece in magnificent detail (I recommend The King Must Die and The Persian Boy). Renault met her life partner Julie Mullard in 1933 while they were training as nurses and they were together for 50 years, until Renault's death in 1983.
Jeanette Winterson is a British writer who has been out since the publication of her debut novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, in 1985. Winterson is an outspoken public figure and has won several major literary awards. Recently she has been in the tabloids due to her relationship with the previously married psychotherapist Susie Orbach.
In an interview with The Times this week, she criticised the media for using the term 'lesbian' as a negative headline-grabbing stunt. Ironically The Times themselves then used that quote in much the same way with their article "Enough of the 'lesbian' tag, says author".
I have been collecting headlines from the tabloids and overwhelmingly, 'lesbian' (their favourite) or 'gay' is used negatively, as though once the sexuality is identified, the rest of the horror story (benefit fraud, underage sex, battering etcetera) naturally follows. There are some rotten no-good lesbians and some rotten no-good gay men, but there are rotten no-good heterosexuals too, and we don’t use sexuality as the explanation of whatever it is they have done.
- Jeanette Winterson
Carol Ann Duffy is an out British poet and playwright. Earlier this year she was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, the first female and the first openly homosexual person to ascend to the traditional post. Today she published her new Christmas work which attacks the war in Afghanistan, MP's expenses, banking and many more current issues.
Public roles should be inhabited comfortably and happily by people whatever their sexuality is.
- Carol Ann Duffy