Or, NerdyKeppie and Lesbian Pride Flags
This afternoon, I had a really, really long talk with @dadhoc while we were running errands, sparked by the fact that, once again, someone had come onto one of my posts, demanding to know why we’d set the lesbian pride flag on one of the highest stretch goals. Once again, the post was tagged #lesbophobia. Once again, the asker was someone whose prior two posts were about how ace and aro people ‘don’t belong’ in the LGBTQ+/queer community.
For months now, we’ve been responding to complaints that we don’t include the lesbian pride flag in our products, that we place more priority on other flags, that we’re lesbophobes who hate lesbians, by pointing out, patiently, over and over, that yes, actually, we do include the (lipstick) lesbian flag in our patterns, that every line that we’ve released since we moved to NerdyKeppie.com has included lesbian pride items from the moment of launch, that they’re easy to find, that I devote hours of what’s essentially unpaid labor to making these items that never sell, that we include the flag in our Kickstarters despite the fact that out of 1350 pins across two Kickstarters, only twelve of those pins were selected by backers…
… but it’s never enough. We get screamed at, called lesbophobes, told that we secretly hate our lesbian daughter, castigated for the fact that ace pride stuff sells more so we use it in more of our advertisements, sent harassing messages on literally six different platforms, and on, and on, and on.
On the other hand, I’ve gotten a lot of messages over the last several months asking us to discontinue this flag due to the fact that it was created by a biphobic, transphobic, anti-butch, racist. My response, over and over, has been ‘I really feel trapped, because it isn’t up to me to decide what the “right” lesbian flag is, and we’re going to get harassed if we change.’
Sitting in the car, talking to DadHoc, I realized that my reaction to this harassment, this verbal abuse, has been appeasement. It’s been ‘please stop hitting me, I’m doing what you want me to do.’ It’s been ‘please, please stop hitting me.’
I’m a survivor of domestic abuse, specifically verbal and emotional abuse. I left my abuser in 2004 with the help of several friends. Recognizing that my reaction to this endless campaign of verbal abuse was almost identical to my reactions to my abuser made two things perfectly clear:
- I cannot continue to do this, and
- I cannot model this behavior for my daughter.
Please stop hitting me is not a business model. Please stop hitting me is not emotionally healthy or stable.
Once we got past ‘this is not okay, this is not healthy,’ we started talking about the flag itself. And the truth is? The creator of that flag hates everything that I am. Biphobic, transphobic, anti-butch? The creator of that flag hates everything that I am. Why would I want to spend time making art (because that is absolutely what I do) with a flag that was created by someone who hates large chunks of the core of my identity?
How can that possibly be okay? How that that possibly be healthy?
It isn’t up to me to decide what the ‘right’ lesbian flag is, but it is up to me to determine which lesbian flag we feel comfortable using, and which lesbian flag I feel comfortable using to make art. That is absolutely not only my right, but it is my responsibility to myself as an artist, to my community to not promote a flag made by someone with such harmful, hurtful beliefs, and to the people who put faith and trust in us to make inclusive art that they’re proud to wear.
As of today, NerdyKeppie will no longer offer any items in the (Lipstick) Lesbian flag, due to its creator’s biphobic, transphobic and anti-butch views, due to the lies and abuse that the owners of the shop have suffered for months over this specific flag, and due to the fact that the flag has been largely co-opted by TERFs.
(Now is not the time to ‘not all lesbians who like that flag are TERFs.’ It’s a known problem with the flag at this point. It just is.)
We have already removed all items with that flag from our store. Due to the processing time between our printing company and the website, a few ‘ghost’ items may still remain. They are not available for sale. If any purchases come through before the items resolve and disappear from the website, we will refund them in full.
Does this mean we are not offering a lesbian flag? Of course not! After careful consideration and research, we have decided that the lesbian flag which we feel most comfortable using for our art going forward is the Inclusive Lesbian Flag, proposed in A Lesbian Flag For Everyone.
It will take us some time to replace all of the items with the new patterns, but we hope you enjoy a preview of the new flag’s look on some of our most popular designs. These leggings are already up for sale on NerdyKeppie!
In addition, here’s a preview of what this flag looks like when applied to our Faith And Pride Pins:
I will no longer be engaging with any of the abusive behavior which has targeted my family for months.
You have every right not to give my company money if you don’t agree with the decision to discontinue offering the Lipstick Lesbian Flag. I have every right to delete your comments, to block you, to report you, and to continue offering products I feel good about selling to people who treat me like an artist who spends countless hours making art to feed my family, and more importantly, like a human being who is worthy of respect.
And so that’s what I’m going to do. I can’t take out the trash from the entire community. I will, however, take it out from my community, and I will replace it with something inclusive. Something beautiful. A lesbian flag meant, from the beginning, for every lesbian.
“Please stop hitting me” isn’t a business plan.
This, however, is.