Thursday, June 19, 2014
My Lesbian-Feminism: Jacqui, Joan and Chea, 1980s
La Professoressa has departed for Adelaide to visit with family, leaving Cello and I to ramble in our memories. I have been answering several letters by women researchers trying to understand what was at stake in the deeply conflicted late 1970s and 1980s over issues of sexual pleasure and danger. I soon learned the pitfalls of looking back from my 74 years at a time when I was passionately engaged, the longings that arose again, the mistakes of memory but not of heart, I still believe. The wheel of historical interest is turning; for years women would write me asking about the bar days of the 50s and 60s, but as we become fewer and fewer, the focus now is on the early days of lesbian-feminism and the politics of our connections and exiles. That is a good thing and I know how rich are the Lesbian Herstory Archives holdings form those years.
As I was writing to one of the researchers, trying to explain my disaffection for Women against Pornography and their tactics at the time, I remembered with a gentle fondness, my younger self''s decision to wear a black slip when I was reading my erotic writings, to put my large woman's body behind the words, an honesty of unavoidable location. Sometimes women walked out of the readings in protest both to my words and to my body, but this was how I lived my politic in Reagan America. Then I remembered that wonderful Saskia Scheffer of the archives had found this photograph of a writing- reading tour I did with Jacqui and Chea, perhaps the only image of the black slip Joan still in existence. How self absorbed this is, and how inconsequential, I think, but how moved I am by this image, all of us, the bad girls, standing before a performance with a New England weather beaten porch fence behind us. Thank you, comrades, for the embrace. I can feel the body under the slip still and the warmth of yours against me.