A history and celebration of my tribe
I enjoyed this article. I'm not a lesbian, but I learned my feminism in the 1970s in a women's group mostly composed of "political" lesbians. Your description of that culture in the 1970s and at Greenham is so familiar to me. It was such a supportive and welcoming environment. I didn't know about a lot of the later developments though, so this was really interesting.
A beautiful, poignant and also infuriating essay. All women need to understand just how much lesbians have their backs. Happy Lesbian Pride.
It's interesting that the New Misogyny has chosen to target lesbians. Women must stand together and fight like hell. Thanks Julie for being our voice.
Thank you. This was really interesting and good to learn about.
When i was a young revolutionary in the early 70s, the Maoist Communist Bookstore, FANSHEN, started a lecture/story series, where they invited the old revolutionaries of the 20s, 30s and 40s, to give talks about their experiences. It was inspiring. They had done things – general strikes, pitched battles with scabs and gun thugs in the timber mills – that amazed us.
It would be great to have a lecture series like this, with tales from activists at Greenham Common, the Hot Autumn, Gay Liberation Struggles in the UK and the rest of Europe...
Lesbian who lived through the era of hidden lesbian bars and job dismissals if you were a homosexual. The lesbian culture at that time seemed far more united than now. We had fun, and we were also in danger. My partner and i were followed by men one night and stoned - actually pummelled with stones and curses. I listen to the old lesbian-feminist songs (Never Turning Back") and have entered cronedom - here to support my younger struggling lesbian sisters by speaking out, being present when needed, and challenging the fuckers who question us and our identities.
In 1979, during my freshman year at university my women's studies teacher introduced herself by saying, "I'm a radical lesbian feminist." The penny dropped. Wasn't easy living openly as an androgenous lesbian. Earned a living by doing a variety of things, including: co-owning/operating a haunted attraction for nearly 20 years (I don't like horror), producing video for Gay Cable News (covered ACT UP protests, lesbian Kiss-ins, community events and celebrity interviews) making a documentary about the women of Camp Sister Spirit in Jones County Mississippi, grant writing for the Lesbian Community Cancer Project and am now beginning my 19th year as a social studies teacher in a Chicago public high school. I've struggled against the backlash, generational amesia and now seeming erasure of our existence and/or culture. The "lesfic" newsletter I subscribe to recently changed its name to "sapphfic" to be more inclusive. My heart goes out to anyone who struggling with their identity. In particular, I have endeavored to help my trans students find resources and feel included and cared for. Yet, does that mean that I must feel that my own identity must be erased? I first understood the societal limitations imposed upon me for being a girl and later a woman. Later, I encountered the additional societal hinderances of also being a lesbian. Is it unfair of me to react against the co-opting of these identities by persons who were born male, but have now transitioned or are transitioning? As a college softball player, I would have been upset if my spot on the team would have been filled by a transwoman, not because I dislike transwomen, but because it is simply unfair (unless they transitioned before puberty). It's like asking a wrestler in a 126 lbs. weight class to grapple with someone in a 145 lbs. class. I don't want to be labeled a "TURF" because I question the fairness of my own erasure. Don't even get me started with the gaslighting regarding pressuring lesbians into having sex with transwomen. Everyone should be able to choose who they wish to be initimate with. The notion that some in our community are shaming others for not wanting to have sex with them is intolerable. I'm fearful that if we cannot figure out a way to mediate this conflict it will seriously divide our community. Of course, this isn't the only existential issue we're facing. Maybe the Gen Zers and Alphas will figure this all out so my identity won't be relegated to the pages of cultural history.
Thanks Julie, for this trip down memory lane. My life and yours have followed similar, sometimes overlapping paths re: class sexuality, feminism etc.
I really value your clarity and the high ethical standards and integrity you bring to your activist journalism. You really do make a difference xxx
Trans women are women
Great article! - Also a good reminder of our power if we stick together.
I really enjoyed this article. So important to look back at history.
I’m not a lesbian. I’m a bisexual woman and really feel the lack of any political organising or movement to coalesce around <insert your own joke about bisexuals being unable to commit to anything here>.
Really hoping we can fashion something along similar lines for the current fight.
What a fascinating review of Lesbian History. Thank you!