Browsing: Lesbians

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LONNEKE GEERLINGS opens her biography of Rosey E. Pool, I Lay This Body Down, by depicting her subject getting off a cattle car destined for Auschwitz. Convincing the authorities that she was a guard who had lost her identifying armband, combined with her fluent German, served to win her a temporary reprieve. In any event, this quick-witted evasion both saved her life and forever marked her with survivor’s guilt.

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Memorial programs were held in both Boston and New York City this past fall to celebrate the life of activist Urvashi Vaid (1958–2022), who passed away last May. Her longtime friend and “co-conspirator” Richard Burns delivered the first of many eulogies at both programs. What follows is based on the Boston speech, which was delivered on September 28th at Northeastern University. A few items have been included from Richard’s remarks in New York (November 3rd), which began with the following prefatory statement:

 You can see in your program that there’s a campaign to put Urvashi on a United States postage stamp. Stamps are planned three years in advance, and the time is long overdue for us to have an activist lesbian leader on our mail. You’ll be shocked to know that this will be a very political process, and the people in this room could make it happen.

 The New York program was streamed live by the American LGBTQ+ Museum and can still be viewed on their website (americanlgbtqmuseum.org).

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Shields argues that Raisin in the Sun was so popular to audiences because it was an “old-fashioned” play that dealt with important social issues. Hansberry, however, felt frustrated that so many white critics and audiences missed the main point of the play, which was to challenge class oppression and capitalism. With mini-portraits of the figures and issues that shaped Hansberry’s thought, this biography sheds new light on a remarkable writer and intellectual.

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BEST KNOWN for her poetry, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886 –1961) was also a novelist, memoirist, essayist, translator, and famously the lover of one of the richest women in England, Annie Winifred Ellerman (1894–1983), better known as Bryher. H.D. and Bryher were true lovers for over forty years.

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This essay first appeared online to mark the 2021 BFI Flare premiere of Rebel Dykes. It is part of Culture Club, a community publishing venture from the queer feminist film curation collective Club des Femmes.

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LESBIAN BARS have not prospered over the years. The Cubbyhole is the last of two lesbian bars in all of New York City. In the 1970s, in the city of Los Angeles alone, there were at least a dozen lesbian bars. And there were scores more across the country. In the 1980s, there were roughly 200 lesbian bars in the U.S. Today there are only 21 left.

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            The essays in Willa Cather’s Pittsburgh look at the novelist’s creative incubation from idiosyncratic angles. They describe Cather’s work, connections, and ambitions as a young adult, and several neatly assess characters in her early fiction who disdain heteronormative expectations. The book’s notes are useful, though a brief chronology might make it easier to navigate these essays.

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            Murray’s list of unheralded accomplishments is a long one. Among many firsts, she was the first African-American to receive a Yale law doctorate (1965) and the first Black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. Her signal contribution occurred in the field of jurisprudence.

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THREE AMERICAN LESBIANS whose importance to activism and literature cannot be overstated died within a few months of each other this year. Each was responsible for a remarkable…More

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THE CALM, beautifully aged face of the poet Adrienne Rich gazes at the reader from the new book by her friend, Ed Pavlic, who explains that his relationship with Rich began when she (as a contest judge) chose his first book of poems for a prize, and they began exchanging letters in 2001.

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