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The Key Differences Between Sapphic and Queer

Robyn Exton

Oct 30, 2023

The Key Differences Between Sapphic and Queer

Imagine standing on the shore of an island, feeling the warmth of ancient Greek sunlight caressing your skin. You stand on the beach and watch a cluster of ladies enjoying themselves – laughing heartily, crooning tunes, and swapping tales. This was Lesbos, home to Sappho, one of history’s most celebrated poets whose love for women gave birth to the term sapphic queer.

In this exploration into identity and language, we dive deep into understanding sapphism beyond its historical roots – navigating modern implications in LGBTQIA+ communities as well as societal views.

We will delve into the world where sexual orientation intersects gender identities; and understand how sapphic has become more than just a romantic or sexual attraction towards women; it’s about symbolizing love that defies traditional definitions.

And remember, this journey isn’t just for a select few. Lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, trans, gender-non-conforming, and cis individuals are all part of the story too.

Understanding the sapphic queer identity

The term sapphic, with its rich history and broad scope, has become an umbrella term within the queer community. It includes lesbians, bisexuals, and pansexual people of various genders. This group isn’t limited to cis women but extends to trans femmes, mascs, nonbinary folks – anyone who experiences attraction towards women.

The evolution of sapphic and queer terms

Sappho was a Greek poet known for her love poems about other women; thus, ‘sapphic’ is derived from her name. Over time though, this word evolved beyond symbolizing love between two women alone. Today’s definition embraces diverse gender identities attracted to femininity.

Queer terms have also transformed over time in parallel with social changes. They began as derogatory slurs before being reclaimed by activists during radical political movements in the late 20th century.

The expansive nature of sapphism

Victoria Williams on TikTok demonstrates that sapphic identity can be fluid and varied based on individual perspectives within our diverse community.

In contrast to historical usage focused primarily on romantic or sexual orientation towards females alone, today’s meaning emphasizes inclusive representation across all orientations,

Delving into sapphic identity

“Sappiness” can mean different things depending upon personal understanding.”

Embracing sapphic sexual orientation and gender identity

  • A woman-aligned person might identify as sapphire if they experience attraction towards other feminine individuals irrespective of their own gender identity.
  • A nonbinary person may consider themselves sapphic if they sense a bond to womanhood and have an inclination towards women or other gender-nonconforming persons.
  • Even a trans man could identify as sapphire, given he was assigned female at birth and is drawn towards femininity.

Delving into sapphic identity

Sapphic identity, rich in diversity and fluidity, encapsulates a myriad of sexual orientations and gender identities. It’s like an umbrella offering shelter to various experiences under the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

The sapphic community is far from monolithic; it includes those who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual non-binary individuals attracted to women. In this vibrant landscape of attraction patterns, each person experiences their romantic or sexual orientation uniquely.

This sense of inclusivity stems from its namesake – the Greek poet Sappho known for her love poems about women. This connection with historical roots provides validation for many queer women and nonbinary people today.

The term ‘sapphic’ has morphed over time but maintains its essence – a woman-aligned person experiencing attraction towards other women. If we imagine sapphism as an expansive ocean teeming with diverse marine life forms, then everyone gets to choose how they want to swim through it without being confined by narrow channels.

The portrayal of sapphic love in media and literature

Sapphic love has been portrayed in various forms of media, from books to films. From the ancient poet Sappho to today’s diverse world, ‘sapphic’ has grown to embrace all those drawn towards femininity—lesbians, bisexuals, pansexual folks across gender spectrums—and includes trans femmes and non-binary people as well.

Sadly though, representation often lags behind reality. So when you look at media portrayals, you may not see all these wonderful variations mirrored back at you.

Fret not, though, because there are plenty of places where our stories shine. One such treasure trove is The Ultimate Saphic Masterlist 2023, featuring books that capture authentic sapphic narratives across genres so every reader can find something relatable.

Being sapphic: more than just a label

The term ‘sapphic’ is more than just a designation; it’s an identity that holds deep personal and emotional worth for those who accept it. For many, being sapphic isn’t about fitting into boxes but rather expressing their authentic selves.

This encourages a wide variety of people to come together, producing an energetic atmosphere. This is truly the essence.

Sapphic vs. queer: distinguishing between the terms

When it comes to LGBTQIA+ terminology, there’s a rich tapestry of words, each carrying its unique nuances. Two such terms are ‘sapphic’ and ‘queer.’ Although they may look alike, these two terms have different implications.

The political connotations of queer

‘Queer,’ while initially used as an insult towards individuals within the community, has been reclaimed by many. Today it stands as a broad term for non-heteronormative identities – but with political undertones. It suggests resistance against societal norms and can often imply radical or political usage.

Being queer doesn’t just denote who you love; it is also about questioning societal standards and advocating for equality across all spectrums of gender and sexuality.

The inclusivity of sapphism

In contrast, the term sapphic carries less weight in politics, instead focusing more on identity and attraction. Named after the Greek poet Sappho known for her romantic poems symbolizing love between women, ‘sapphic’ refers to any woman-aligned person or non-binary individual attracted to women.

This inclusiveness makes sapphic an umbrella term embracing lesbians, bisexuals, trans femmes, mascs, cis-gendered women – anyone experiencing attraction towards females regardless of their own gender identity.

In comparison with queer, which implies a broader scope covering sexual orientation beyond heterosexual normativity along with sociopolitical defiance, being sapphic offers specificity centering around attraction experienced towards females irrespective of one’s own gender identification making it relatively exclusive in its inclusivity.

Interestingly, the sapphic community is less recognized in the queer space, even though it encapsulates a diverse range of identities. It’s an underused term that could serve as a helpful label for many people.

The symbolism associated with sapphic identity

When we talk about sapphic identity, the imagery that often comes to mind is the sapphic flag.

The meaning behind the sapphic flag

The original sapphic flag consists of three colors: two pink stripes at the top and bottom with a lavender center stripe. Each color holds specific significance in representing various aspects of sapphism.

Pink is chosen as it traditionally represents women. The dual pink stripes reflect romantic and/or sexual attraction towards women or woman-aligned individuals within this community – embracing everyone from lesbian to pansexual non-binary people attracted to women.

In between these vivid bands of passion lies a calming strip of lavender. Historically linked with queer identities, this shade symbolizes how those identifying as Sappho deviate from traditional heteronormative narratives, marking their distinctiveness while acknowledging shared experiences across diverse gender-sexual spectrums.

This symbolism isn’t merely confined to physical flags fluttering atop pride parades but also permeates digital spaces where social media platforms provide fertile ground for such expressions.“Every time I see someone using our flag on Tumblr or Twitter,” a Tumblr user wrote, “it gives me hope.”

Symbols beyond flags

Symbolic representation extends beyond flags into realms rich in emotion like poetry – specifically, the sapphic stanza. The term, coined by the Greek poet Sappho who was known for her love poems towards women, resonates with individuals attracted to women and serves as a testament to their experience.

Exploring complex emotions and experiences through symbolism is truly beautiful. It’s like an untraveled road in mainstream narratives. For those who identify as sapphic, it gives more than just visibility—it provides validation and recognition too.

As the sapphic community grows and evolves, so does its place within the broader spectrum of LGBTQIA+.

Sapphic is used to promote solidarity among women and non-binary people attracted to women. It’s a beacon for individuals who identify with woman-aligned persons or those who experience attraction towards them.

This sense of unity doesn’t just end at identification; it extends into support systems as well. A range of resources are available that cater specifically to this group, aiding in creating spaces where they can connect over shared experiences.

A sense of camaraderie often arises from sharing common struggles and triumphs. For many sapphire queers navigating their identity amidst societal pressures could prove challenging but rewarding nonetheless. While not mutually exclusive terms, ‘queer’ & ‘sapphic’ tend to overlap significantly, fostering an inclusive environment unlike ever before. With inclusivity comes representation—a crucial element for any community’s growth and acceptance.

By sharing stories, struggles, triumphs, and the spectrum of sapphic love through platforms like social media or dating apps such as HER, individuals attracted to women can connect on a deeper level. These avenues have also created opportunities for non-binary identities to form connections that resonate with their experiences.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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