Sapphic, also known as woman loving woman (WLW), girls loving girls (GLG), LBPQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual, Queer), difemina, or sapphist, refers to a woman, woman-aligned and/or non-binary person, who is attracted to women, exclusively or not. They may or may not be attracted to other genders as well. This attraction does not need to be exclusive, as the label is used as a way to unify all women or women-aligned people who love other women such as lesbians, bisexual women, pansexual women, queer women, and other m-spec women, promoting solidarity among women of all identities who are attracted to other women.
The term can be used as a modifier combined with other identities to show that one emphasizes or prioritizes their attraction to and relationships with other women. It may also be used as an identity on it's own, and may be found particularly useful for people who know they are attracted to women but may be uncertain if they are attracted to other genders. It can also be used to describe a relationship between two women.
The word sapphic comes from the name of the Greek poet Sappho. The island she was born on, Lesbos, is where the word lesbian is derived from.
Sapphic is also a type of poetry comprised of four line stanzas of similar meter. Sapphic poems are historically popular and written by people of all genders.
Use in History
Although historians use the term sapphic retrospectively, the first use of sapphic as a sexual orientation was by sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld in his pamphlet "Sappho and Socrates: Or How is the Love of Men and Women for Persons of Their Own Sex Explained?"
Up until the late 2000s and early 2010s, sapphic was used primarily as an adjective version of lesbian. The first known use of sapphic as an independent identity is by Tumblr user sapphicseekingsapphic on February 23, 2012.
The original sapphic flag was created by Tumblr user lesbeux-moved on August 14, 2015. The sapphic flag has two pink stripes on the top and bottom, symbolizing love. In the center there is a violet, which was historically given between women to symbolize their sapphic love. In the center of the original flag is a realistic pair of violets.
As a response to the difficulty of replicating the violets in the center, Tumblr user pride-color-schemes simplified the flag and created the modern sapphic flag on June 25, 2017.
The demisapphic flag was created by wiki user Wemrotung on August 3, 2021. It is the sapphic flag in the demi- flag format. The dark grey stripe stands for a-spec attraction. This flag can be used for sexual, romantic, and tertiary attraction.
- Poets.org entry on sapphic.
- The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565-1830, Susan S. Lanser, University of Chicago Press.
- "Reviewed Work: English Sexualities 1700-1800by Tim Hitchcock" by Dennis A. Rubini for scholarly journal Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies.
- Digitally archived version of "Sappho und Sokrates: Oder wie erklärt sich die Liebe der Männer und Frauen zu Personen des eigenen Geschlechts?" (in German).
- "A Sapphic Victory, But Pyrrhic" by Frank Bruni from November 2009 for The New York Times.
- A list of Natalie Stein's "Sapphic Salon" op-ed series from November 2009 to March 2010 for B*tchmedia.
- First Tumblr post written by user sapphiclovingsapphic which appears to use the term sapphic as as an identity.
- Tumblr post with the original flag.
- Tumblr post with the new, simplified sapphic flag.