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The World - People & Culture - The Black Triangle

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The Black Triangle
By Encarna (Y5C, 2006-07)

When you hear the word “homosexual”, what do you visualize? Probably the first association that one makes is a love affair between two men. Why does one forget about women? Is it another kind of discrimination? Maybe.

The notion of “lesbian love” derives from Lesbos, a Greek island  located in the east Aegean Sea.  Lesbos was the place where Sappho, one of the great Greek lyrists and few known female poets of the ancient world, ran a girl school in the 6th century BC.   Sappho’s literary production is based on the passion for her students, though lots of speculation about this controversial figure and her private life still remain. For this reason Sapphism stands for the term “lesbian” to describe love between women.

Lesbian relationships are very frequently mentioned in literature: ancient Grece, China and even in some medieval stories from Arabia that describe the way women lived together in harems filled with beautiful and sensuous girls whose duty was to entertain the sultan.

Of course, being described in literature doesn’t mean at all that lesbian love was accepted or permitted. Yet, special punishment devoted to these women was not as intense as the way men homosexual love was subject to persecution. This kind of “unacceptable women’s behaviour” was identified with a black triangle in Nazi concentration camps.

Luckily, lesbians have claimed for their rights and visibility throughout history.  Now Spain gives gay couples the right to get married and even adopt children.  Popular TV sitcoms such as “Friends” – Ross’ ex-wife.  “Aquí no hay quién viva” – Bea – or “7 vidas” – Diana – have contributed to bring lesbian characters to audiences who now tend to accept them as a very common part of every day life.

The Black Triangle Sappho of Lesbos
by Gustav Klimt
Black Triangle
Sappho by Klimt