Guest Speaker: Joan Nestle, co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York
For almost 40 years, grassroots archives have been part of the air I breathed and it continued to be when I first came to Melbourne and in 2000 sat with a group of women in Jean Taylor’s home which was also the home of the Victorian Women’s Liberation Archives who were trying to work out what to call their collection and where to house it.
The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather and preserve records of lesbian lives and activities so that future generations of lesbians will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives. The process of gathering this material will also serve to uncover and collect our herstory denied to us previously by patriarchal historians in the interests of the culture that they serve.
From Something Good: A Feminist Sing-a-Long Songbook, compiled by Andy Malone and Di Otto (February 1981) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
Shameless Hussies--Helen Potter
Lyrics: Helen Potter
We're the Shameless Hussies and we don't give a damn
We're loud and raucous and we're shouting for our rights
And our sex and for fun and we'll win
To end the afternoon, all of those gathered joined in sharing memories of their actions, in singing their songs of resistance and eating home cooked lamingtons and chocolate birthday cake.I sat thinking of that other gathering at 4 Fitzgibbon just a few weeks ago where lesbians in their 20s filled the vista--what a length of lesbian, queer, women's history I have lived with, through. In my body lives the 1950s butch-fem communities of the American 1950s and now it is joined with out rancour or shame to the lesbian feminist resistance movement and onward into the gender refusal visions of the new generations. I kept looking at the First Australians flag that lay at the center of the room, here in our own form of a corroboree, a communal gathering held usually in the sands of the dry river beds or under a cooling gum tree. Something in me broke free, some thing loosened, and I was stepping into the rivers of reconciliation.
All above photos by La Professoressa, March 24, 2013