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Synonyms: WLW, Women Loving Women, Woman Loving Woman
See also: F/F, Femslash, Yuri, Girls' Love, Sapphic Fandom
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Sapphic Pride Flag by Pride-Flags (2016).

Sapphic, more known as WLW, Women Loving Women or Woman Loving Woman, is a term used in wider queer circles as an umbrella term for women who desire to be in a relationship with other women, though this definition is very loose and can encompass a wide range of identities.

The term sapphic is based on Sappho, a Greek poetress who was born and lived on the island of Lesbos.

The term WLW specifically is thought to have originated in Black American Vernacular English in the 1920s,[1][2] but has since been more widely adopted. The term is often used in media fandom as a way to label ships and characters under an umbrella term, as "gay" could be considered inaccurate to bisexual people, as could "same sex" for transgender people. It is a great umbrella term that avoids having to "choose" between sexuality options regarding characters.

Full disclosure, I am a bi woman, and since the start of the show, I’ve seen Vanya as a lesbian, though if I had to describe her canon-wise right now I’d just say “wlw” due to lack of confirmation. If she’s bisexual, or pansexual (or another label that I cannot think of at the moment)? That’s fantastic, any LGBT+ rep is important to have and should be celebrated.[3]

It is fandom-independent, unlike related terms such as femslash and girls' love. "Sapphic" is primarily used in the English-speaking world, though other languages also use the term such as sapphisch in German. Although the term looks similar to F/F, it has different connotations and use cases. Achillean and MLM are similar masculine terms. Sapphic is more widely used than the similar term Achillean.

The terminology and the community surrounding it are very accepting of non-binary people, who may be under both umbrella terms. Variants of the "WLW" acronym such as WLNB, NBLW and NBLNB are common.

Sapphic Fandom is its own fannish community which a rich history, as discussed on its page.

Fannish History


Resources/Further Reading

  1. ^ WLW,, accessed April 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Even if the origin of the term “wlw” lies in black lesbian communities, Tumblr post by butchcommunist, October 22, 2015. (Accessed April 24, 2021).
  3. ^ An excerpt from a longer meta post about Vanya Hargreeves from Umbrella Academy, by probiepannikar. Posted August 7, 2020 (Accessed May 7, 2021).