Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Browse Items (46 total)

  • Andy, 1982, April 20.jpg

    Andy further discusses how she came to construct her butch image. She recalls getting into fights with men and having to give up good jobs because she refused to give up her queer image and identity. She discusses her clash with a teacher when she was in school in the 1950s. She describes her relationship with a prostitute and other close relationships. On side B she talks about breaking into the butch scene and coming out. Andy talks about gay bars and places queer women were welcome or not. She discusses fashion and explains why they wore their t-shirts backward.
  • arcus flynn.jpg

    Arcus Flynn discusses her early life and her struggle with isolation and depression, her eventual discovery of the Daughters of Bilitis meetings and the community and friendships she found there. Arcus talks about the early importance of roles assumed by lesbians in the community (butch/femme), her involvement with the Women’s Rights movement, her evolution from Catholicism to born-again pagan spirituality (the Irish triad: truth, knowledge, and nature), and her discovery of herbology and natural healing.
  • astrea.png

    Short clips of several interviews with various members of the Daughters of Bilitis about their experiences with the group and being a lesbian in the 1950s and thereafter.
  • SPW490.jpg

    She thinks people have the wrong opinion of lesbians, she says she feels alone in the bars, role playing was important that someone should be the more aggressive person in a relationship, talks about how she needs a butch in a relationship, thought of herself as a femme although she didn't dress feminine, describes a "dyke person", bar atmosphere and how she went to a bar every night to hit on the bartender, how much she enjoyed the bar scenes, prostitution, story about how she was abducted and raped by 3 men, about how she was in an abusive relationship, spending time in a correctional facility, sexual relationships while in jail
  • SPW486_BUFF.jpg

    Buff discusses the impact of the Metropolitan Community church on her life and the gay-rights movement. Mentions activities in Tucson, AZ. She stresses that current lesbians should know that there is more to life than the bars, but that in her time in Buffalo she didn't feel there were places for community outside of them. Mentions her time in the army, realizing she was homosexual, and coming out. Discusses her time in the army, lesbians in the military, being in Seattle and Germany with the military just after the Korean war. She talks about the differences in gay identity and self identity in the past compared to now.
  • 449.jpg

    Cindy or Joan (speaker unclear) discusses her experience of growing up in a working class family. She also discusses going to bars as she got older, and her relationships with women. She describes lesbians being harassed by police officers in the past. She also describes how her car was vandalized once, which she thinks was because she is a lesbian.

    Speakers' identities are unclear throughout. Recording label identifies Cindy and Joan but it is hard to tell if there are actually two separate speakers.

    Sound quality is poor. Tape cuts off abruptly at the end.
  • SPW513_DJ.JPG

    DJ discusses her early experiences with women as a teenager, her feelings of being a tomboy, and her coming-out experience. She discusses her experiences in the bar scene in Buffalo in the 1950s, and describes ways in which women would interact with each other, but publicly and privately. DJ also discusses roles in relationships, particularly the butch and the femme.
  • SPW514_DJ.JPG

    Side A: DJ continues her interview from tape SPW513. She finishes discussing her romantic relationships then moves on to discuss gay literature, specifically The Well of Loneliness. The topic of workplace discrimination is mentioned. DJ discusses relationships in the community through the venue of gay and straight bars. Relationships between straight men, lesbians, and bisexual women are discussed as well as race relations. Side B: DJ covers the topic of prostitution in the lesbian community. She speaks about the choice some lesbians make to marry men and have kids.
  • 472.jpg

    Side A: Dorothy discusses her personal life and how she came to discover that she was a lesbian. She talks about her marriage and separation. She discusses her relationships with women, all of which were long-term. Dorothy talks about her job in engineering as a tool designer and the fact that she performed a man's work for a man's salary. She discusses lesbian social life during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and names several popular bars including Eddy's Tavern, Ralph Martin. She talks about her developing alcoholism and the prominence of this disease among lesbians in general, perhaps as a result of their uncertainty about life. Dorothy also talks about butch and femme roles in lesbianism, stating that she doesn't identify herself with either role despite the fact that the butches identified her as one of them.

    Side B: Dorothy continues the discussion of roles in lesbianism and the division between the two groups in bars. She says that her "crowd" did not distinguish between these two groups and she ultimately stopped going to bars, partly as a result of the need for role division. She discusses in some depth her problem with alcohol and talks about her membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. She talks about how she decided that she was a lesbian and gives further details about her first relationship. She also speculates on whether or not other people knew she was a lesbian, including her mother and acquaintances such as her landlord. She says that she has never had any problems with people discriminating against her. Dorothy also continues to talk about the social dynamics of bars in Buffalo.
  • 474.jpg

    Side A

    Dorothy discusses lesbians in the military during World War II with regard to her friend Betty, a lesbian marine who feared her phone was tapped. She refers to it as a 'witch hunt'. Dorothy discusses lesbian bars in Buffalo in the 1940s -1950s, and talks about friendships and butch and femme roles.

    Side B

    Dorothy discusses her break up with her girlfriend of 13 years, Charlotte. She talks about their courtship, sexuality, home life, and their families, who were never formally told they were a couple. While talking about the break up she mentions the deed to a cottage they shared and losing personal property in the breakup. Dorothy mentions seeking help from a lawyer and a lesbian psychologist in the 1950s. Dorothy discusses that she once considered suicide after a breakup.
  • 475.jpg

    Side A

    Dorothy discusses how women met one another, sexuality, and her various relationships. Particular focus is on her 10 year relationship with her girlfriend during the mid 1950s to mid 1960s.

    Side B

    Dorothy discusses how she feels about children and the fact that she never any. She gives her opinion on two women raising a child, and talks about her friends who are now married to men who raised children. In addition, she continues her thoughts on sexuality and butch-femme roles.

  • SPW479_ELAINE.jpg

    Discussion centers on bars in Buffalo in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, in particular Bingo
  • SPW477_ENIT.jpg

    Enit discusses facing her sexuality at the age of 12 and coming out to her family despite her frustration at their lack of acceptance. She goes on to discuss her social life and dating in Buffalo, NY, noting how she used to meet women at bars but that her social activities have changed with age. She discusses her participation in the Erie Picnics held for gay men and women in Pennsylvania. She is 47 at the time of the interview.
  • SPW478_ENIT.jpg

    Enit discusses how her perception of Lesbian oppression has changed over time. She also talks about acceptance in the work place and how professionals view Lesbians. Enit explains that her personal interests have changed with age and that her hobby is dance. She finishes by discussing her interactions with straight women and the support she gets from her Lesbian friends.
  • SPW500_Andy.jpg

    Andy discusses the history of gay rights in Buffalo, New York, and describes how it feels like to be open about her sexual identity. She shares some of her childhood and early adulthood experiences in the 1950s and 60s –her first relationships and confronting the risk of losing her job. Other topics discussed include the gay and lesbian bar scene, raids, prostitution, butch and femme roles, and Andy’s experience within the African American gay community.
  • 446.jpg

    Joan talks about how she went to jail and her experiences while she was held there.
  • 441.jpg

    Side A: Joan discusses the distinction between butch and femme lesbians, the differences between the white and black gay communities, the Buffalo lesbian bar scene, and coming out in the 1960s.

    Side B: Joan discusses the class divisions in the lesbian community, the university gay scene, and her personal, professional, and romantic history.
  • 443.jpg

    Side A: Joe talks about the social atmosphere in the 1920s through the 1940s. He talks about Service Clubs and Music Circles as vehicles for social interaction but claims not to know of any exclusively gay or lesbian social groups. He also talks about the one gay bar in town in the 1930s and '40s and calls it "middle class at best."

    Side B: Joe talks about social clubs (all men's clubs) and how gay society functioned within these clubs. He also talked about sports and gay women at the time.
  • 470.jpg

    Side A: Judy discusses some of the bars she used to frequent, and her changing views of sex.

    Side B: Judy discusses her past relationships and the ways in which she feels the treatment of women at jobs has changed.
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    Judy discusses her views of gay men, including her belief that all so-called gay men are in fact bisexual.
  • SPW503_Judy.JPG

    Judy describes her experiences over the past thirty years up to the point of the interview. Topics discussed include cheating (“playing around”), polygamous lesbian relationships, fights in bars, holiday celebrations, friendship, same-sex marriage, religion, drinking, drugs, crime, mental health and treatment of lesbian women, the commonality of lesbian women seeking psychiatric treatment, the working environment for lesbian women, living alone, families of lesbian women, and one case of a lesbian woman raising a son. Judy believes that lesbian women should not raise children and has an extensive discussion about her reasoning. She ends the interview by discussing movie stars and entertainers that were popular among the lesbian community in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • BarbaraGrierFinal.jpg

    Barbara Grier discusses her personal experiences with developing her identity. She describes lesbian nightlife and particular lesbians frequented in her youth.
  • EdithEyde.jpg

    Edith Eyde talks about her life growing up in rural southern California, moving to Los Angelos and discovering the lesbian culture there. She discusses publishing Vice Versa, one of the first lesbian magazines, and her music career.
  • SchwartzNestleFinal.jpg

    The interview begins with Judith Schwarz and her recollections of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and how she knew of women who were hesitant to join Daughters of Bilitis, as they simply wanted to meet women at the bar, and feared their names appearing with labels publicly. She also discusses how women were hesitant to receive mail from Daughters of Bilitis for the same reason. She also talks about her first woman lover, and the circumstances that led to that.
  • JohnsonBarden2Final.jpg

    The interview begins with Lois Johnson, who discusses when she realized that she was a lesbian, which caused her to move out to California and take a job in journalism. It was there that she met a woman who eventually became her lover, and they used to play music together. Sheri Barden talks about her social life after she met Lois Johnson, though she did like to party with her landlord, who was also a lesbian, though these social affairs pretty much came to an end when her relationship began with Lois.
  • HelinDemingFinal.jpg

    Pat Helin and Barbara Deming discuss their childhood in Iowa, their involvement with the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco and their friendship with Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.
  • 447.jpg

    Linda talks about her relationships and the idea there are no longer clearly defined lesbian roles (i.e. butch and femme) in relationships, as there were when she first came out in the 1960s. She describes her family life growing up and when she came out to her family.
  • SPW492.jpg

    Marge speaks of the bars in Buffalo, NY in the 1950s, specifically Bingo's, Chesterfield, Dugan's, Mardi Gras, and Carousel, which had more of an established lesbian clientele. She tells how Carousel changed from a lesbian to gay crowd in the late 1950s and eventually closed because of allowing "careless" behavior. She felt patrons of gay bars in the 1950s were more respectful than at the time of the interview in 1980. Marge was arrested for serving a minor female, which she felt was an attempt to close the bar where she worked. The tape cuts off at the end of the second side.
  • 452.jpg

    Side A: Mary Ann discusses her experiences going out in public with her girlfriends, and the treatment they receive at restaurants, bars, and on the street. She mentions that their public treatment is very often instigated by the masculine way her partners are dressed; she herself has always been very femme. Mary Ann talks about her incarceration for robbery, and her time in a psychiatric hospital for depression and attempted suicide.

    Side B: Mary Ann continues to discuss her time in jail. She took on a butch look, and began to receive small gifts under her cell door from femme girls in other divisions. She developed relationships with different girls that she worked with while in jail, and talks about lookouts, or "chickies," standing watch for girls who were with their partners in the showers or elsewhere. She then talks about her sex life with a long-term partner of 22 years, with whom she raised foster children. Later, she touches on her job as a dancer at Buffalo clubs, and a two-year period when she worked as a prostitute.
  • 453.jpg

    Mary Ann talks about posing as a prostitute for men in a straight bar. She would arrange a meet-up location and then she and two girl friends would overpower and rob men. She describes several muggings she and her two friends carried out. One happened in a hotel; another took place in a man's house with his family there. She claims she and her friends never hurt anybody "more than they had to." Mary Ann also talks about the distinction between gay bars and bars where she would go to hustle. Gay bars were places to have fun with friends and not for prostitution. In one aside, the interviewer asks Mary Ann why she calls her girlfriend "my man," to which she replies that's the way her lover wanted to be addressed.
  • 456.jpg

    Side A: Mary discusses her experiences in the gay community in Buffalo in the 1950s. She discusses in detail the gay bar scene and describes the clientele at the Carousel, Bingo's, and the Chesterfield. The interviewee also describes the dynamic of the relationships she experienced and observed in terms of both race and gender identity. Mary also discusses prostitution in the Buffalo community during the 1950s. She describes some of her own sexual and relationship experiences.

    Side B: Continuing the conversation from Side A, Mary discusses in more detail the types of people she observed in the various bars in Buffalo, as well as her family. She explains that she got along with her family, but never came out to them, in spite of which her father never questioned her about her relationships or pressured her to get married. She also discusses the socio-economic status of various gay communities throughout Buffalo. Both the interviewer and the interviewee discuss butch and femme identities within the larger context of the lesbian community in Buffalo. Mary speaks in more detail about her social experiences.
  • 460.jpg

    Side A: Mary briefly describes her childhood and family dynamics. Mary and the interviewer then discuss the first time Mary recognized being different and her thoughts on desiring women at a young age, yet not knowing about lesbianism as a concept or about the lesbian community. Mary then recalls the first time she encountered the word "lesbian" when she joined the U.S. Air Force and describes her experiences with women while in the service. Mary talks about being a lesbian in the military, the investigation into her conduct, and her dishonorable discharge. After Mary got another job, she started going to a bar in Buffalo, N.Y., and she talks about the other lesbians she met there. Mary then discovered other bars and talks about the scene as well as the role-playing of butch and femme.

    Constant whirring noise that stops about 10 minutes into the recording.

    Side B: Mary continues the discussion on butch and femme role-playing. She elaborates on fights, holding down jobs, and being "out." She also explains the relationships lesbians had with gay men in Buffalo, N.Y., and the bar scene dynamics of mixed, gay, or lesbian bars. Mary and the interviewer discuss gay activism and the difficulties of being involved in activism at that time. Mary also describes outings where there was a risk of being visible as a group, such as going on picnics or renting cottages. She elaborates on her experience with social dynamics like cliques and having heterosexual friends within the lesbian and gay community. Mary then expands upon the nature of her relationships with women as well as with black lesbians - racial prejudice and relationships are discussed.

    Constant whirring noise that stops about 5 minutes into the recording.
  • 461.jpg

    Mary describes the bar scene, parties, fashion, music, bar layouts, and fights at Bingo's and Carousel bars.
  • mgNikkiNichols copy.jpg

    Nikki Nichols describes her coming out process, and experiences with older lesbian women as a teenager. Discusses changing views on butch/fem issue. Laments the lack of lesbian groups in Sacramento, as well as describing issues with and fears of gay bars. Talks about how the discovery of DOB saved her life – socially and otherwise. Describes first DOB convention in 1960. Discusses her research into Native American attitudes towards homosexuality, as well as Native American rights movement.
  • mgNikkiNichols copy.jpg

    Nikki Nichols talks about The Ladder and its role in lesbian history, and gives her thoughts about which leaders loomed large in the DOB. She brings up the Act or Teach “controversy” of the early 60s. She mentions problems with drug culture in San Francisco during the 60s. She also talks about her enthusiasm for active protest/picketing, and the difficulties of getting gay activists and rallies in California outside of San Francisco.
  • 457.jpg

    Side A: Liz and Madeline ask Pat and DJ for feedback on a draft of "Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold." Pat claims the book paints too rosy a picture of lesbian life, underplaying the prejudice most lesbians encountered in the 1940s and '50s. Both talk about the Buffalo bar scene in the 1940s and '50s: mentioned are Carousel, Bingo's, the Chesterfield, Ralph Martin's, the Mardi Gras, and the Midtown. The discussion shifts to relationships, faithfulness, and prostitutes.

    Recording has loud feedback sounds and squeaks at the beginning.

    Side B: Pat and DJ discuss bar denizens vs. lesbians who did not frequent bars and the "class" distinction there, and also the way non-butch lesbians looked down on butches. DJ describes how her long-term relationships were analogous to marriage, where she was the breadwinner and her partners were housewives who perhaps worked but did not "provide." Both discuss the fact that in the 1940s and '50s butches had the freedom to have affairs whereas femmes were expected to be faithful. This created an atmosphere of mistrust in which monogamous long-term relationships became very difficult.

    Recording has loud squeaks at the beginning, hisses throughout, and cuts off abruptly at the end.
  • 458.jpg

    Side A: Pat and DJ continue the discussion of relationships during the 1950s from tape cassette SPW457. The two women discuss aspects of how to make relationships long-lasting and the importance or lack thereof of sexual intimacy in relationships. Both Pat and DJ discuss personal opinions related to intimacy in relationships, particularly in long-term relationships. The discussion then turns to types of attraction and intimacy.

    Side B: Pat and DJ continue to discuss relationships during the 1950s and talk about reasons for breaking up. The discussion revolves around the importance of taking care of a woman and being able to satisfy her needs. The two women discuss the negative stigma of cheating. The discussion turns to take pride in a partner and the importance of her appearance and physical presence. Pat and DJ also talk about the presence of violence during relationships in the 1950s, listing insecurity between partners as the main reason. The two women speak specifically of violence in bars as a result of talking to another woman’s lady or challenging femmes in relationships to talk to other women. They discuss how much of this behavior was learned from lesbian role models of the 1940s.
  • 467.jpg

    Side A: Pat discusses her experiences as an African American lesbian. She developed friendships and relationships with both white and black gay women in the 1950s. She denies there were any racial tension in the Buffalo lesbian community; Pat says her experience was very inclusive. She also discusses experiencing police harassment, but says that she longer experiences discrimination from law enforcement. Pat discusses her wardrobe in the 1950s, which was composed of mens' clothing, and where she used to shop.

    Side B: Pat discusses her friendship and romantic relationship with Jerry Jones, a male impersonator, who was well known in the 1950s Buffalo lesbian community. Pat discusses her move to Albany, N.Y., in the late 1950s and the birth of her daughter in 1957. She also mentions her experiences at after-hour bars which were only open to African Americans. While she used to frequent them in her early years, she no longer goes. Pat identifies as a butch lesbian and discusses the differences between butches and femmes. When she was younger she did not allow her partner to touch her during sex, but is much more open to the idea now. According to Pat, many butch lesbians did not receive sexual contact from their partners.
  • mgPatBarbara copy.jpg

    Pat and Barbara continue to discuss their early lives in Iowa and relationships with their families. They elaborate on their early days in San Francisco, Pat’s previous marriage, political affiliations, jobs, dancing in gay bars, and why they ultimately left the DOB.
  • 454.jpg

    Side A: Pat discusses her definition of lesbianism and her attitude towards “radical lesbians.” She also discusses her background, including her relationship with her family and her experience at an all-girls Catholic school. She talks about how and when she realized she was a lesbian and describes her early relationships with women. She discusses leaving home and experiencing gay bars for the first time in the 1950s. Finally, she discusses butch and femme roles and how they have changed.


    Side B: Pat discusses why she does not have many gay friends and why she does not identify with the lesbian community. She talks about her relationships and her feelings about sex.
  • 455.jpg

    Side A: Pat talks about her childhood in North Port, N.Y., her relationship with her parents and siblings. She goes into detail about her estranged relationship with her older sister. She describes when she first knew that she was a lesbian and tells the history of her relationships with women. She starts with her first affair at age 13, with a nun from her Catholic school - Sister Eugenie - to a relationship she had with Maryann (Marty). She describes her time at nursing school in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and the gay bars she frequented until she moved to Florida with her then girlfriend. She says she moved to Buffalo, N.Y., in the late 1950s, and describes the Buffalo bar scene, mentioning Dingles, Mardi Gras, the Chesterfield, the Carousel and the Carol Hotel. Pat mentions that the Carousel was very elite, something she did not like. This leads her into a discussion on “role play” and how important it was to distinguish oneself as either a butch or a femme. She classified herself as butch, but stated that she was very uncomfortable with the label and now prefers to be less overt.

    Side B: In this interview Pat talks about how she does not like or feel comfortable in the gay community. She has never identified with it, or been made to feel welcome. This is one of the reasons that she does not maintain friendships with other lesbians, unless she is having a sexual relationship with them. She mentions being victimized and physically assaulted because she was a butch lesbian. Interviewer Madeline enters the discussion, speaking about her own sexual experiences with women. Madeline classifies Pat as “untouchable,” something that Pat denies, stating that she is simply very private. She feels that sex is a necessary but not important part of a relationship; it is something that is never sought or welcomed. She is suspicious of those who claim to experience sexual pleasure, including Madeline.
  • 462.jpg

    Side A: Paula describes various locations where gay men and women would meet each other, like Kleinman's Corner and bars such as Ralph Martin's. Often these locations also served as hubs for sex workers. She speaks about the rigidly defined roles of "butch" and "femme" provided for lesbians during the 1940s. Paula talks about her life as femme and being married to a man who introduced her to gay/lesbian life. She discusses her sexual life and the type of sex that women had with each other in the 1940s, specifically within the strict binary of butch and femme. Paula recalls the social life at bars, such as Ralph Martin's, which included dancing, drag shows, prostitution, and drugs.

    Side B: Paula speaks about her family life in relation to her sexual identity. She talks about her husband's fast lifestyle and her changing preferences eventually causing the dissolution of their marriage. Paula mentions the types of employment she has had, including working in department stores, as a waitress, as a desk clerk at the Genesee Hotel, and on the assembly line at Bell Aircraft. She speaks more about various bars that she went to: Pat's, Dugan's, the Carousel, and the Carlton Hotel. She talks about a long-term relationship that she had, after her divorce, that lasted ten years, as well as traveling out of the Buffalo area to places like Florida, California, and Utica, N.Y.

    The recording cuts off abruptly after 23 minutes.
  • 466.jpg

    Phil talks about being in a relationship with another woman and how she provided for her. She also goes on to talk about how other butch femmes provided for their partners and what would happen when they would break up. Phil further goes on to talk about gay literature and her problems with it. She also discusses gay bars and the lack of support for them.
  • SPW494.jpg

    The gay movement has taken the lesbian community out of the bars or the "gay underworld," as compared to when she came out in the late 1960s, about 10 years prior to the interview. Portia, age 26, is not out at her job, but is known as a feminist and civil rights activist; her sister is openly homosexual. She talks about her early sexual experiences with girls and how she never felt guilty or different, but felt guilty with boys because of her Catholic upbringing. Her father beat Portia after she went out with her lover, and then she moved out of home at 18. She attended university and discusses her relationships and friendships in college, as well as her relationship with her first lover, who is still her partner, and their infidelities.
  • SPW526_SHANE.jpg

    Shane talks about getting into trouble during her teenage years and how her father kept sending her to all-girls schools thinking it would straighten her out. She speaks about gay bars in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. She tells a story about running away from home to pursue a relationship, ending up involved with hustlers and begging her father to help her stay out of jail. She talks about moving back to Buffalo, getting a job, and how things have changed.
  • mgStellaRush copy.jpg

    Stella Rush and Helen Sandoz are interviewed in 1987. The interview mostly concerns Stella Rush, who talks about her childhood; specifically her encounters with incest and molestation. She also talks about her experiences with police discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s in L.A. Helen and Stella both talk about being editors of the Ladder and being a part of the DOB. Stella talks about workplace harassment, and fear of loser her job. They show photographs from the 1960s, including some of their cat. The video closes with the two discussing their wedding rings.
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