Lesbians flock to home of Sappho for festival
Lesbians from across Europe are flocking to Greece for the tenth annual International Women's Festival
The island of Lesbos Greece has witnessed huge numbers of lesbians from across Europe who have gathered there for the tenth annual International Women's Festival.
In the decade since its commencement, attendance at the two-week International Women's Festival in the village of Eressos has jumped from 30 to hundreds of women - mainly German, British, Dutch and Scandinavian, but also Greek and Italian.
The busy programme of events-from Sep 4 to 18, 2010-includes women-only walks and sunset cruises, breathing and drumming workshops, Greek dance classes and lesbian film screenings.
"I've been blown away, there's no unease at all," said Lauren Bianchi, a Scottish woman, who is at the festival for the first time.
According to the Sappho travel agency, lesbians now make up 60 per cent of visitors to the village, rising to 90 per cent in September when the festival takes place.
"My rooms are full for the next two weeks. We'd usually be dead in September, but now it's booming," said Andreas, who runs the Sappho cafe bar and rents rooms on the village seafront.
As the economic crisis continues to pinch, he says Greek holidaymakers spent less this summer and he is grateful for the extended season brought by lesbian tourism.
"People in the village have got used it, especially the young people, but the old people still discuss it among themselves," he says.
These days it is the "more conservative" visitors from Athens, who fill the village in August, who feel uneasy about the lesbian visitors, says Lena Tzigounaki, a Greek woman who moved to Eressos from the capital more than 15 years ago.
Tables from her bar spill out onto the village's main square in the gaze of a large bronze statue of Sappho, one of three erected in the village in recent years.
Like most lesbian-run establishments in Eressos, the rainbow-coloured gay pride flag is on show above the bar.
"When people from Athens see women sitting together, I see whole families looking strange and shocked, but locals don't find anything unusual in women holding hands, or even kissing," she says.
"But there is a limit, of course," she adds.
Source: AFP, ANI
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