Anyone can feel attached to or identify with a diversity of gender identities and/or sexual orientations. And as evermore definitions have been popularised over the years to embody the emotions and experiences of queer people, it can be hard to keep up.
If you are not totally absorbed in LGBTQ+ culture or the rainbow community, you may not appreciate these lesser-known sexual orientations and gender identities – most of which have a lack of representation in mainstream media.
One such term is sapphic, so we are going to define and cover what does sapphic mean, speak about the sapphic pride flag, and then provide some tips to help you become a better ally to sapphic people.
In this article we will cover...
What Does Sapphic Mean?
The term Sapphic is known as woman loving woman (WLW), or girls loving girls (GLG). It could also stand for lesbian, pansexual, queer, bisexual, or omnisexual. A sapphist is a woman, non-binary, and/or woman-aligned person attracted to other women. This attraction may or may not be exclusive.
While the term ‘sapphic’ is clearly understood within LGBTQ+ circles and especially the sapphic communities, many people are still confused about what it means. Confusion about the term ranges from the professional to the personal.
Sapphic individuals may or may not be attracted to other genders. While this label isn’t exclusive, it is used to unify women-aligned people or women who love other women. It is a term that promotes solidarity among women of different identities that experience attraction to other women.
One can use the term ‘sapphic’ with other identities to mean that they prioritize relationships or attraction to other women. The term can also be used as a stand-alone identity. Sapphic is a useful term for people that know they have an attraction to women but aren’t sure about an attraction to other genders. Sapphic can also describe a relationship between two women.
The word ‘sapphic’, originates from Sappho, a Greek poet from Lesbos. She is popularly known among the queer community for her desire to women and her writings about love. While the words sapphic and WLW are often used interchangeably, it’s good to note that they can have different meanings. For instance, sapphic is an expansive and gender-inclusive term that is welcoming to nonbinary individuals with an attraction to women.
Plenty of nonbinary people attracted to women and cisgender sapphics have similar experiences regarding relationships, life, and dating. It therefore makes sense that there should be an umbrella term to unite such individuals. It’s important to note that lesbians and sapphic aren’t the same, even though a lesbian could identify as sapphic.
A lesbian is a woman who prefers female sexual or romantic partners while sapphic is a general time for woman-aligned gender identities.
Sapphic Pride Flag Meaning
There are many different pride flags symbolizing most queer identities, so it should come as no surprise there is a flag for sapphic people to proudly fly.
On August 14, 2015, Tumblr user lesbeux-moved designed the original sapphic flag. Two pink stripes go across the top and bottom of the sapphic flag, symbolizing love. A violet is in the center, which has traditionally been presented between women to represent their sapphic love. A stunning pair of violets sits in the heart of the original flag.
On June 25, 2017, Tumblr user pride-color-schemes modified the flag and created the current sapphic flag in response to the complexity of reproducing the violets in the center. It is easier to recreate and has a single violet.
On August 3, 2021, wiki user Wemrotung designed the demi-sapphic flag. It’s a demi-flag version of the sapphic flag. A-spec attraction is represented by a dark grey stripe. This flag can also be used for tertiary, sexual, and romantic attraction.
Sapphic Pride Day
Education, visibility, commemoration, and appreciation are all critical in promoting global acceptance and acknowledgment of queer identities and queer folx in general. And from experience, we know it is easier for queer people to talk to friends and loved ones – and to feel the love – when a worldwide day for them is observed. Not to mention it also helps foster awareness and increased sensitivities from society at large.
Sadly however a Sapphic Pride Day has not yet been designated. But that does not stop you from marking your calendar and doing something special (even if it’s just a social media post!) next pride month!
Or any other day of the year, to be honest.
Other Sapphic Information to Help You Be a Better Ally
No sapphic experience is identical to another. You can’t tell whether someone is sapphic by looking at them, observing their personality, or their physical aesthetic. None of these characteristics can provide a clue as to how a person identifies, and this is as true for sapphics as it is for any gender or sexual orientation.
The first thing you should do as an ally to sapphic people is to believe them when they tell you about their identity. Don’t try to argue them out of it or make the mistake of thinking you could know more about how they feel than they do. It could also help if you worked on your mindset. Working on your attitude means you challenge your concept of gender, sexuality, and sex.
After all, if you have any issues with understanding sapphic individuals, the root cause is bound in your understanding of gender and sexuality – not theirs. Educating yourself (as you are by reading about what does sapphic mean?) is an excellent first step to increase your awareness and not make your lack of knowledge in this area a burden on them.
There aren’t any explicit rules or guidelines, but here are some thoughts on how you can be a better ally and support a loved one as you discover what it means to be sapphic.
Understand pronoun usage
The identity of a person is shaped by their name and the pronouns they use. Pronouns such as “us,” “she,” “they”, and “hers” are common in everyday Language. Pronouns are words that we use to identify ourselves. There are several additional pronouns to denote a person’s gender if they don’t identify as strictly female such as the gender-neutral pronoun “they”.
Because pronouns are used to identify one’s gender, mistaking or misunderstanding their pronouns can be hurtful. As a result, it’s critical to honor names and pronouns by habitually using them, as this supports a person’s identity.
It’s crucial to remember that just because someone appears to be cisgender or female doesn’t mean you may presume their pronouns. When you first meet someone, remember to ask about pronouns or introduce yourself using your pronouns to let them know your pronoun preferences.
Using pronouns fosters a more secure and inclusive environment for people to be themselves, knowing that others will respect their identity.
Speak up if you witness discrimination taking place. You demonstrate that hate is unnatural and unacceptable every time you make it plain that you will not tolerate phobias in your life.
You may persuade someone to change their opinions, or you may simply make someone within the room that isn’t out feel safer. It’s appreciated in any case.
Be reassuring and amplify their voice
When someone comes out to you, please remind them that their sexual orientation or gender identity hasn’t impacted your feelings for them, even if it will take some time for you to process what they’ve said. People need to know that you still love and respect them the same way you did before, if not more.
People who don’t listen to LGBTQ+ voices are more likely to do so if straight people offer their perspectives, sentiments, and concerns. Is that acceptable? No. It is, however, a reality, and it is a chance for straight allies to help.
Support equality and come out as an ally
Endorse policies that protect sapphic and LGBTQIA+ individuals from discrimination at work, school, and other social places. Even if the problems appear to be minor, they can have a significant influence on people’s life. If you notice or discover an unfair practice or policy, talk to a supervisor about your views and what you can do to improve it.
Anyone, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity, can be an ally. Support and embrace the LGBTQIA+ community with pride. Remember, being an ally can mean joining an LGBTQIA+ group or community organization or simply demonstrating your support online.
Respect is free
Keep in mind that you don’t have to understand what sapphic means for you to respect sapphic individuals. Even though there are plenty of people who haven’t heard of the word ‘sapphic’, and don’t know what it means, this doesn’t mean that sapphic individuals shouldn’t get the respect they deserve.
If you don’t understand what sapphic means, try to educate yourself and others around you about what it is. However, you shouldn’t place the burden of understanding it on someone who identifies with the word. Do a little digging. If by the end of it, you still don’t understand, it’s ok. Just respect sapphic individuals.