Greek-American Paul Thymou, resident of the Aegean island of Lesbos, holds a banner reading: "If you are not from Lesbos, you are not a Lesbian," outside of an Athens courthouse on on June 10


Oh, this is just too good! Reuters reports that we can continue to be "lesbians," lowercase L. Here's the story:

ATHENS - A Greek court has dismissed a request by residents of the Aegean island of Lesbos to ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

Three residents of Lesbos, the birthplace of the ancient Greek poetess Sappho whose love poems inspired the term lesbian, brought a case last month arguing the use of the term in reference to gay women insulted their identity.

In a July 18 decision, the Athens court said the word did not define the identity of the residents of the island, and so it could be validly used by gay groups in Greece and abroad.The ruling ordered the plaintiffs to pay court expenses of $366.

"This is a good decision for lesbians everywhere," Vassilis Chirdaris, lawyer for the Gay and Lesbian Union of Greece, told Reuters. "A court in Athens could not stop people around the world from using it. It was ridiculous."

He said the plaintiffs were free to appeal the decision in a higher court.

Lesbos, which lies just off the Turkish Coast, has become a gathering spot for gay women from around the world, especially at the village of Eressos which is regarded as the birthplace of the poet in the 7th century B.C.

Several residents testified during the trial that the use of the word lesbian had brought recognition to the island and boosted its tourist trade.

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In ridiculously related news, ClaireTrageser reports in the Seattle P.I. blog that the American Family Association's OneNewsNow (I'm not even giving you that link; why encourage them?) has a strict policy of substituting the word "gay" with "homosexual"via automatic editing. Thus the Christian news outlet repeatedly described the sprinter Tyson Gay, whose record-breaking Olympic time trials will send him to Beijing, as "Tyson Homosexual."


Nancy Natale said...

What would we have called ourselves out here in Northampton, the lesbian capital of the U.S.A. if the decision had gone the other way??!! Thank Goddess that I don't have to call myself a "Womyn loving womyn"! (What is the plural of that anyway?)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, lesbians everywhere. But Nancy, I beg to differ about Northampton's status. I'm from the SF Bay Area, and I've think we've got it all over you. If you lost "Lesbian" you could probably use "Bernal Heightsian" (Bernalian?) and people would get it.

Hi Joanne!


Hylla said...

From the ridiculous to the... more ridiculous.
I dunno, Northampton might win over SF in pure concentration stats. Plus N has Cheryl Wheeler, whom everyone should see perform live at least once.

Chris Ashley said...

So, I have to give up my first name because it's within the words "Christian" and "Christianity" yet I'm not a believer? Just call me X.

In answer to Nancy and Oriane- Oakland, that's where it's at. And I could name neighborhoods: Glenview, Temescal, Laurel, Rockridge.

Joanne Mattera said...

So, Oakland is to SF as Brooklyn is to NY?

But I did read that Northampton has the greatest concentration of lesbians anywhere. ("Concentrated Lesbian" sounds like an energy drink.)

Chris, er, "X," sorry you've been de-named. Too bad you weren't from Lesbos. You could be a Lesbian, uppercase L.

Chris Ashley said...

"Newsweek dubbed Northampton "Lesbianville, U.S.A." because of its huge girl contingent, as well as being the home of all-female Seven Sister holdout Smith College."

Yeah, but is that actual numbers, or per capita? With a population of 28,978 at the 2000 census, I'd say it has to be per capita.

"An analysis by the Urban Institute of U.S. Census 2000 numbers showed that Oakland has the third-highest concentration of gays and lesbians among the 50 largest U.S. cities, behind San Francisco and Seattle." It's in the Wikipedia, so it must be true.

Look at how hard I'm working on Oakland's behalf! I'm a civic booster! The Chamber of Commerce should give me a job.



Mark Staff Brandl said...

I guess you could call yourself "Sapphos" and really get their goat (a bad joke I know). What a wonderful poet. I read her in Latin recently, but not Greek: really beautiful work.

And then there are the Heterosexuals of Gibraltar...

Nancy Natale said...

Isn't it great that we would vie for our cities/towns having the honor of being the lesbian capital? Why, not too long ago, we were invisible and uncounted - oh, wait - that was the U.S. Census.

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