The author was joking as she attempted to position herself as the one true defender of lesbians after being told to shut up by Linda Riley, founder of DIVA magazine and creator of Lesbian Visibility Week.
Lesbian Visibility Week is off to a great start with two straight cisgender women attempting to center themselves and speak over life-long lesbian activists, such as Linda Riley. JK Rowling also took the time to engage in what can only be described as misogynist harassment of a transgender woman with a beard.
Responding to that misogynist harassment of a transgender woman by JK Rowling, Baroness Emma Harriet Nicholson of Winterbourne asked:
“Dear Jo @jk_rowling Why did I think lesbians (great people) were females of that ilk?
How did I go wrong in not understanding they were actually MEN??? As a beloved wordsmith please explain,
“Excellent question, Emma! Defining lesbians as same sex attracted women excludes and oppresses the most marginalised of all groups, ie, people with penises and beards who want to shag women. And before you say’but aren’t they straight men?’ THEY’RE WEARING EYELINER, BIGOT. Jo x”
Of which there is a lot to unpack. “Same-sex attracted” is a phrase which has its origins in homophobia and conversion therapy, arguments about who is the “most marginalised” are set up by contrarians trying to waste your time because equality and freedom are not zero sum games and literally noone has said that eyeliner makes someone a woman.
Statements like the above truly show the depth of anti-trans conspiracy theory which JK Rowling has allowed herself to fall victm to. But its been noted repeatedly that we probably should have seen the signs coming, not least because of her friendships such as that with the Baroness.
Baroness Nicholson was an MP about 30 years ago, during which time she opposed marriage equality, blocking thousands of LGBTQIA+ people from marriage. She supported Section 28, a UK law in place from 1988-2003 the impacts of which devastated the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth, as it basically meant you couldn’t do or say anything perceived to be ‘encouraging children to be LGBTQIA+’.
Indeed such was the Baronesses’ homophobia that she was protested in 1995 by a group of lesbians called The Lesbian Avengers. Yes, specifically lesbians targeted Nicholson for protest because of her extensive homophobia at the time. According to the Avenger’s website it was due to Nicholson’s refusal to sign the “UN Year of Tolerance declaration” while it included sexual orientation.
This group showed up at Nicholson’s house in Devon wearing t-shirts saying “we recruit” and calling for the politician to resign. The event was described as a “tea party cum protest” in papers.
Nicholson also courted controversy when she said vile things about Munroe Bergdorf and proceeded to try and defend her opposition to gay marriage on Twitter as recently as 2020. Instead she found herself removed from her honourary Booker foundation vice-president position as a result. She had already been removed from Lumos, the charity she founded alongside JK Rowling, whose website says she has had no involvement since 2010
I contacted Lumos for comment and they said they do not comment on the beliefs of their founder.
It isn’t just Nicholson who JK Rowling has a homophobic soft-spot for, it seems. She has also been buddying up to other notable people involved in queerphobias such as Caroline Farrow and Rosie Duffield MP. With the former being a career homophobe who has appeared on BBC’s Question Time to oppose marriage equality and the latter being a UK Labour MP who has had lesbian staff quit citing her ‘overtly transphobic’ opinions.
Despite all of this, I am not expecting JK Rowling to have her “are we the baddies” moment any time soon.