Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Browse Items (8 total)

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    Irving Cooperberg discusses the importance of having a physical, experimental space and what it means for the legitimacy and stability of the community. He discusses different LGBT groups and community spaces throughout NYC, and the ways in which they promote life and hope amidst the HIV/AIDs epidemic. He talks about how these spaces give legitimacy to the community and allow for the melding of all different cultures and people. He also discusses the gay Synagogue and its role in the larger gay and lesbian community.
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    Sonny Wainwright provides discourse about the privilege of marriage as it pertains to illness and becoming a parent. She explains her choice to "live straight" for several years so that she could have a child. It was not until she met Audre Lorde that she realized she had "choices", whom she called her teacher. Wainwright also discusses the need for lesbian illness support groups due to unjust experiences brought on by the illegality of same-sex marriage.
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    Sonny Wainwright discusses being closeted, her group of closeted friends, and keeping her private life private. She also discusses labels as being necessary because the word “woman” does not define every part of her, and when she is free to be who she is she will no longer feel the need to be labeled a “radical lesbian feminist” because woman will be sufficient. Also mentioned is Wainwrights’ battle with breast cancer, and how it brought her first book Stage V: A Journal Through Illness.
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    The New York gay bar scene in the 1950s gave Sonny Wainwright and her peers a place to be together without the interference of straight society. She left New York in 1953 to become a college teacher at University of New Hampshire. Wainwright oscillates between ideas of identity and stories of different instances of being outed in her personal and professional life, including a story about developing a relationship with a student at the University of New Hampshire, who outed her sexualty leading to her dismissal.
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    Sonny Wainwright discusses coming out in 1948, navigating the Village bar scene as a young college student with her lover Kelly, and the social life of lesbians in the 1950s. Wainwright found support in the bars as well as her close circle of closeted friends prior to the formation of the Gay Women’s Alternative.
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    In the final part of the Old Neighborhood Voices interview with Audre Lorde, she wraps up the talk with a discussion on the drama of lesbian life in her youth. She talks about the difficulties and joys of living in community with lesbians in the 1950s and how being on the edge of society gives you a different worldview. She stresses how everyone should view themselves as an outsider so they don't lose perspective on the true sense of power structures at play in the world.
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    In the second part of the Old Neighborhood Voices interview with Audre Lorde, she talks about living around the Village in the 1950s - from the migrators who came into the gay bars just for the weekend, to the imagined mythos of the Village as a place for anyone outside of white, middle-class America, and to the conflicts between the older residents and the newcomers to the area. Lorde touches on what her apartments were like and the rent situation of the area, as well as scrouging together food to share with her communities as a poor person. Then, Lorde discusses the multiple lives lesbians of the time had to live and the incredible gift that integrating every aspect of herself was as she got older. She touches on the Stonewall Riot, as well as the way she had to stop arbitrarily dividing aspects of herself to make others more comfortable.
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    Old Neighborhood Voices interviews Audre Lorde about living as a young Black lesbian in the Lower East Side (now referred to as the East Village). She discusses the interconnectedness of the lesbian communities in the neighborhood, the imperfect support systems they offered each other when there were no other options, and the pressures of living on the edge of society. Lorde also discusses the racism that was rampant in the gay community in the Village, and how the few black lesbians within these communities were met with apathy when discussing political matters. She also discusses the effects of McCarthyism in the 1950s on her lesbian communities, as well as how she gained political consciousness growing up with the Brown v. Board of Education case, as well as by living near the Women’s House of Detention in the Lower East Side and seeing Black incarcerated women for the first time.
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