When we think of gay history in the United States, we tend to think Larry Kramer and the AIDS crisis; we think Harvey Milk; we think the Stonewall riots; we think of the decades-long fight for marriage equality. Gay men — particularly white, cis, affluent gay men — have long since been the popular face of gay rights, and consequently, theirs are the faces most often immortalized in the amorphous archives of LGBT history.
Where did all the lesbians go? We've been here all along — even if our hallmark struggles and achievements have been white-washed, pink-washed, and dude-washed in the narrative of queer history. Even Stonewall, a crucial turning point in 1969 for the queer rights movement, is often misremembered — popular culture likes to forget the riots were incited by trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Let's start remedying that.
Welcome to BuzzFeed LGBT's Lesbian History Week. In light of the historic SCOTUS decision in favor of marriage equality, we thought it was time to spend a bit of time looking behind us as we figure out what — in terms of the things left to fight for, in terms of preserving/reimagining queer lady culture – lies ahead.
We’re kicking off with a retrospective of influential lesbian magazine Curve in celebration of its 25th anniversary – a glimpse at the past quarter century of lesbian culture as told in print. Throughout this week, check back in for daily pieces about the impact of very different kinds of lesbian icons, like Audre Lorde, Lesley Gore and Jessie Craigen; throwback photo essays of vintage queers living and loving in a time very different, and yet not not so different, from ours; and the last lesbian bar in San Francisco closing its doors, indicative of a larger trend across the country of queer spaces getting priced out and shut down.
These are personal histories, and cultural histories, and hybrid personal/cultural histories. They are only a few pieces of a rich and varied past in which queer women fought, loved, fucked, failed, and triumphed. Read them here.