Neither Sin Nor Civil Rights: Ethel Sawyer’s Study of a Lesbian Community

In 1965 24-year-old Ethel Sawyer completed the first known academic study of an African American lesbian community. Sawyer’s analysis of “mate stability” helped me develop an understanding of why in the 1950s and 60s gay women who rebelled against sex and gender norms participated in the most normalizing of all institutions: marriage. Although Sawyer did not hear of any such ceremonies during the two years she spent conducting … Continue reading Neither Sin Nor Civil Rights: Ethel Sawyer’s Study of a Lesbian Community

Kate Millet

The “Sex” In Sexual Revolution

One of the best things about coming out as a lesbian in 1989 was that for the first time in my life wanting and having sex was a positive, not a negative, value. As a teenager I thoroughly enjoyed heterosexual sex, but I struggled with deeply internalized Christian values that held me a sinner of the worst kind, and was subject to the cruel and … Continue reading The “Sex” In Sexual Revolution

The Trouble with Invoking Jim Crow to Fight for LGBT Issues

Pink Panthers Movement’s Response to the Arizona Anti-Gay Law Arizona’s new bill allowing for discrimination based on sexual orientation is rightfully attracting a lot of pushback from LGBT activists. One of the go-to arguments is that the law revives Jim Crow, the practice of segregating African Americans from whites. While there does seem to be a natural logic here, I think the LGBT movement should … Continue reading The Trouble with Invoking Jim Crow to Fight for LGBT Issues

1971 television footage of African American lesbians applying for marriage license

Video of Donna Burkett and Manonia Evans applying for a marriage license. Last week I interviewed Donna Burkett, an African American butch lesbian who spent her lifetime working in factories because she refused to wear a skirt. We can be proud of Donna for taking a stand against sexism in the workplace but the fact is she was not a political animal. She had marched … Continue reading 1971 television footage of African American lesbians applying for marriage license

Breaking the Chains of Homosexual Oppression: Girouard and Tremblay’s 1973 Gay Marriage Record Album

[Image Description: 1973 LP album art for Giourard and Tremblay, shows both men with their arms around each other’s waist and with their arms chained together with manacles, raising their arms into the foreground. They are both gazing directly into the camera.] In 1972 Quebec entertainer Michel Girouard married his lover, Regeant Tremblay, in an unusual and unique ceremony. Girouard was a journalist for Tele-Radio … Continue reading Breaking the Chains of Homosexual Oppression: Girouard and Tremblay’s 1973 Gay Marriage Record Album

“…he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” – Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom (1995) The eyes, ears, and hearts of the world are turned toward South Africa this week as we bid farewell to Nelson Mandela, a man who led the largely peaceful transition of a nation … Continue reading “…he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”