Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Browse Items (47 total)

  • T81_1_53.jpg

    A recording of Judy Grahn who briefly discusses publishing and two independent presses run by women, the Women’s Press Collective & Mama’s Press in the California bay area. The majority of airtime is dedicated to Grahn’s reading of works from the aforementioned presses. She reads chapter 17 from Sharon Isabel’s autobiographical novel “Yesterday’s Lessons” as well as poetry from “Lesbians Speak Out” & poems of Susan Griffin.
  • lois beeby.jpg

    Lois Beeby discusses her early experiences and confusion as to recognizing she was a lesbian. She speaks about her role as a member and officer in the Daughters of Bilitis, and the eventual unrest and split in the group, leading to her leaving DOB. She speaks of unrest between gay men and lesbians and the desire for the two to join together as a united front.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • lois beeby.jpg

    Lois Beeby discusses her early experiences and confusion as to recognizing she was a lesbian. She speaks about her role as a member and officer in the Daughters of Bilitis, and the eventual unrest and split in the group, leading to her leaving DOB. She speaks of unrest between gay men and lesbians and the desire for the two to join together as a united front.
  • kay_ohara_gerrie_morrison.jpg

    Kay O'Hara and Gerrie Morrison are interviewed in 1988. They both talk about their family lives, when they realized they were lesbians, coming out, their relationship, and previous relationships. Kay mentions her engagement and marriage before she accepted she was a lesbian. They talk about the San Francisco DOB from the 1950s and the meeting's events that were held, as well as butch and femme roles. They talk about literature that was available, including the Ladder and the contributions they made to its design and distribution.
  • marilyn_lamkay.jpg

    Marliyn Lamkay is interviewed in New York City in 1987 (it seems to continue from a previous video and is perhaps continued in another video). She talks about being a lesbian in New York and coming out to her family and professionally, her relationships and religious beliefs. She discusses lesbian roles and how she didn't fit into any of the existing roles, even in the DOB community. She discusses community building and CR groups when she was younger and how she went on to hold workshops about resources for gay and lesbian New Yorkers at Bronx Community College. She mentions New YorkDOB meetings and the influence that DOB had in the creation of subsequent lesbian groups and communities.
  • SPW540_LesbianHistProjPic.jpg

    Side A:

    Discussion on the social issues in the Lesbian communinity bar and nightlife scene in Buffalo, NY during the 1950s.

    Side B:

    Continuation of side A. Only 2 minutes of side B used in original recording.
  • BarbaraGittings&KateTobin.jpg

    Barbara Gittings talks about her life and her history with the Daughters of Bilitis. She served as the National Corresponding Secretary for DOB and helped run the NYC chapter when she was living in Philadelphia. Despite that, she frequently criticizes DOB positions and found herself to be more radical in her approach to activism.
  • SPW505_Bonnie.JPG

    Bonnie discusses rules of conduct within the lesbian community, including domestic violence, beginning and ending relationships, identifying as butch or femme, and domestic roles. Other topics include prostitution with women and men, bisexuality, definitions of lesbianism, types of relationships, and her rules of attraction.
  • 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.
  • SPW498_Debra.jpg

    Discusses her child, a son. He was the product of her one-day marriage. She kept him for about 8 months and then her brother and his wife took him and raised him. He would spend the summers with her until he was 12 and then he lived with her and spent the summers with her brother and his wife.
    Believes lesbians make better mothers because they know more. She didn’t want her son to go into gay life because she felt it would be difficult for him, she doesn’t believe that gay men relationships last. She believes you can teach someone not to be gay.
    They talk about gay men and lesbian relationships and social interactions. She would call upon her gay male friends to be her date to events that she needed a date, also sometimes family events. They talk about marriages between a gay man and gay woman. Debra says that she knew quite a few couples who had done that to put up a front, but that those relationships always worked out well. Debra also talks about marriage between two women. She never wanted to get married but knew women who did.
    They also discuss alcoholism and drugs among the gay community.
    On the second tape, Debra further discusses fights in the lesbian community. Madeline asks if she knew any lesbians who played sports in the 1940s and 1950s. Debra believes lesbians played sports but cannot definitely say so.
  • 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.
  • SPW497_Debra.jpg

    Debra discusses her experiences as a lesbian. She talks about her first lesbian relationship when she was 12, how she was married for one day, how her mother knew something was different about her, and how her sister figured out she was a lesbian because she was only married for one day.
    She talks about her relationships with women, how she never openly acknowledged that she was gay but if she was asked she wouldn’t deny it.
    They discuss monogamy, she was mostly faithful, but she also talks about jealous partners and how when one is accused of things, one might as well and go ahead and do it.
    She doesn’t believe that a lesbian relationship is any different than a straight relationship.
    They discuss bars and areas in Buffalo that she would frequent: Moon Glow bar, Pearls bar, Ralph Martins, Ryan’s Hotel, Little Harlem. They also discuss dating rituals, fashion, and relationship/ courting roles.
  • 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.
  • SPW518_Lou + Jane.JPG

    The interviewee discusses the time she considered getting a sex change. She talks about religion. At the end she talks about getting respect. There is significant distortion at the end of the tape.

    Lou and Jane discuss their sexual relationship and further aspects of female sexuality.
  • SPW511_Andy.JPG

    At the start of the interview, Andy talks about the first time someone asked her about sex. She talks about her experience going with hookers. She discusses butches and femmes and argues that femmes aren't "true" lesbians.
  • SPW504_Bonnie.JPG

    Bonnie discusses the lesbian community in which she came out and lived during the 1960s. She describes the difference of experience for butch and femme lesbians in public during this time, the roles butches and femmes play within relationships, and the social expectations involved. Other topics include Bonnie's lesbian mother, alcoholism, lesbian bars, Bonnie becoming actively gay at Catholic school, her way of flirting, and monogamy and infidelity within the lesbian community.
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    Anita talks about being in an interracial relationship with a white woman, and the roles of butch and femme.
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    Anita talks about her first encounters with a relationship with a woman. She then speaks about the difficulties of raising her child. She also talks about the roles of Butch and Femme.
  • SPW527.jpg

    Shane talks about running away from home with two girls after her father forced her to leave home. She then lived as a man in New Orleans under an assumed identity. She was arrested and held for 72 hours on suspicion of robbery. She recalls the people she met during her stay in jail.
  • SPW491_BOBBIE.jpg

    Bobbie speaks on the nature of her various relationships, including patterns of sex and cohabitation, being confused about her significant other identifying as a man in public, she addresses the existence of her children, using men after prison to live and make money, attending gay reorientation church, her sexual practices, and the subject of the "Untouchable".
  • 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
  • SPW489_CAROL.jpg

    Bad sound quality. Discusses that she doesn't think of her community of a lesbian community, though she can contribute to the lesbian community. Says she now stays away from gay bar communities because she is a teacher. Discusses running into students at bars, relationships, family.
  • SPW488_BUFF.jpg

    Talks about dating a prostitute, lesbian prostitutes, lesbians and butches having sex with men, lesbian pregnancy, clothing styles,
  • SPW487_BUFF.jpg

    Talks about community tattoos, race, being butch, the challanges of identity and expectations. Touches on past sexual abuse by her father, gender roles, identity, learning about gay life and her discovery process, friendship, clothing and identity, her marriage to a gay man, her suicide attempt.
  • 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.
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    Mabel discusses her early life as a lesbian in the Village between the two world wars, including the rooming house where she lived and the parties she attended. She describes how women dressed, what they ate at the parties, what they did at the parties, including dancing, the records they listened to, and the general social life of these parties. She describes the interracial relations between white and black lesbians. She also discusses the language lesbians used to describe themselves at the time, including "bulldaggers", "lady lovers", and "butches". She also tells the story of a large lesbian marriage ceremony in Central Park West, officated by a gay minister named Rev. Monroe and how the couple managed to get an offical marriage certificate. She also discusses gay life in Harlem and the New York City drag balls.
  • spw1163_A.mp3

    Event organized by the Committee for the Visibility of the Other Black Woman. Audre Lorde moderates community discussion and dialogue including issues of identity, cross cultural conflicts, classism, and ageism. She also introduces panelists' presentations. Her most sustained comments are on SPW1163, as she introduces the panel on identity.
  • spw1164_A.mp3

    Audre Lorde moderates community discussion and dialogue including issues of identity, cross cultural conflicts, classism, & ageism. She also introduces panelists
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 465.jpg

    Side 3: Phil begins the interview by discussing the dynamics of living with her lover and husband under the same roof, as well her lack of shame or guilt in being gay. She then talks about guilt among other lesbians she knew. Related to this, she discusses reasons people were not public about their lesbian identity, including work and family commitments. She spends the majority of this side of the tape talking about her long-term, intimate relationship with her best friend. She discusses the difference between butch and femme friends, as well as the distinct features of a close friend versus a lover.
  • 451.jpg

    Judy discusses butch and femme identities, social interactions, and role-play within relationships. She expresses relief over how these once rigid demarcations of identity have become more flexible within the lesbian community. Later, however, she notes "class" differences that continue to striate lesbians as a social group.

    The social conditions, the acceptance of lesbians, and the "openness" of homosexuals are compared between New York, Florida, and Toronto. References are made to anti-gay activist Anita Bryant and others who put social pressure on lesbians to stay closeted.

    Additionally, Judy touches upon negotiating workplace discrimination and "nosy" neighbors. She briefly mentions her relationship with her family and what it was like growing up in Buffalo.
  • 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.

  • 448.jpg

    Linda discusses work and how her coworkers knew that she is a lesbian, which did not bother them. She recalls beginning to wear men's clothes to work in the 1970s when women began to wear pants. Linda discusses her relationship, and how her life centers around her lover. She believes that the younger generation is less monogamous than hers. Linda also discusses butch and femme dynamics in relationships.

    The sound quality is poor in the beginning. The tape cuts off abruptly at the end.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 459.jpg

    Side A: Pat and DJ discuss the characteristics of femme identity. The interviewers say they are looking to interview more femmes, which leads to a discussion of the names and locations of lesbians who were a part of the community in the 1940s. The interviewers also mention the difficulties of interviewing lesbians who have not come out. The group discusses why butches are more willing to talk. Pat talks about her time at the Good Shepherd home. There is a brief discussion about the role of lesbians in World War II.

    Cut off at 0:14:55

    Side B: The group continues their discussion of the interview process, including who is willing to talk and who is not, as well as who will use their names and who will not. There is more discussion about beatings. Pat tells of coming out to her mother. Her mother only worries about the violence Pat is subjected to, on account of being butch. There is a long discussion about the nature of breakups and their aftermath. The group discusses the role of third parties in most breakups and the way a butch or femme reacts to a breakup. The issue of "passing" comes up, and Pat talks about working as a cab driver and passing as a man. Often, the children of femmes did not know that their mothers' partners were actually women. The interview concludes with a description of the rules for asking other butches' girlfriends to dance, and the fights that sometimes ensued. This point in the discussion highlights the difference between the generation of the interviewees and the generation of the interviewers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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