What follows is the journey of Sonny Wainwright as she struggled to deny breast cancer its dominion. What follows is layer and layer of history: of one lesbian feminist community in New York City in the early 1980s facing illness, of a health care system, of a family, of love affairs, of feminist poets and writers organizing in this time, of the Upper West Side of New York City when renters were still the norm, of women's network and gay community organizations, of the American 1980s' treatment of breast cancer. As I typed each word, the time lived for me again, the meeting places, the doctors we shared, the working class Bronx neighborhoods that birthed us, as I typed the names of women comrades from that time, I knew once again why so much of my life has been given to the archival project for this is just the story of one community and all over America, lesbian and straight women feminists in towns and cities were creating similar interconnected lives, this is the time our collectivism flourished, our resistance to Reagan America. I hope students of all kinds of history will find their way to this primary source, I hope Sonny's story with all its naked places will find readers from all over the world, realizing the privilege of what our community had, that while Sonny could rage at the doctors that refused to listen, as least she had doctors, she had hospital rooms, she had a safe apartment on cold winter days. Sonny knew all of this too.
I needed to do this and I hope Lydia, Edith, Karyn understand what I have tried to do. As my own mortality grows near, I chose what I want to do with my hours. When I left my New York apartment, only a few blocks from Sonny, I had to choose which books to take with me. I had many. Sonny's Stage V: A Journal Through Illness" traveled over continents along with Walt Whitman, and my selected needed ones. I knew I had unfinished work to do. How do we resist the brutalities in our time, sometimes in our name? By knowing when and how we stood together outside the center of power, creating other possibilities of how to live. I hope you will tell your stories of your times of resistance.
Note: I have corrected many of the typing errors, I hope, and written some concluding notes at the end of the last installment. Again, because of the way the writing is presented here, you can scroll down to the first installment and read through as the text of the book goes, but this is yours now, read Sonny in any way you wish. And all gratitude to the women of Acacia Books that gave Sonny the greatest joy in her lifetime, of seeing her work in print. You can still find copies of the original book
with its photographs for sale on the web.