CCLOW and Lesbianism
BY CARMEN PAQUETTE
Lesbian feminism is growing stronger in Canada both within the gay rights movements and within the women's movement.
Some initiatives in the women's movement show increased support for lesbian rights. The NAC lesbian issues committee has been revived since the last AGM and has consulted the National Lesbian Forum on possible courses of action (1). CRIAW's last conference had the development of the lesbian community as a sub-issue of its major theme "Women and Development." No less than 4 workshops were held on lesbian themes, a heady experience for those for of us who have struggled sometimes to get even one on the agenda of a women's conference! NAWL has a Lesbian Issues Working Group striving for similar visibility and they are also co-operating with EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) so that research into sexual orientation recognizes lesbian experience.
As a national organization seeking to improve the lives of Canadian women, CCLOW can support and catalyze this process during its second decade by welcoming the voices of lesbians on educational issues, on issues that impact on education for women and all other aspects of women's lives.
In 1984 at its national conference, CCLOW had at least one lesbian workshop on the theme of feminism and lesbianism and has not to my knowledge excluded or discouraged the participation of lesbians since then. A more pro-active stance is now appropriate.
CCLOW can do this by asking for lesbian input while its briefs, projects and political positions are being developed. It can also mention lesbians when it speaks about the diversity of Canadian women. And it can educate its own members in ways to diminish their fears of lesbians and lesbianism.
CCLOW members can publicize lesbian groups and activities as they would those of any other group within the women's movement, and they can lobby M.P.s on the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation as they do on issues of discrimination on any other basis: sex, race, marital status, economic level, education.
The energy and commitment that we as lesbians bring to improving the lives of women is what all feminists, lesbian or not, are in the process of acknowledging and celebrating. Welcome aboard, CCLOW!
Carmen Paquette is a franco-ontarian adult education and training consultant. She is co-founder of Action éducation femmes, CCLOW's sister organization, and of the National Lesbian Forum._________