Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The Treasure Hunt

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pp. 1-22

I, too, write as woman, lesbian, and feminist; a dinosaur facing extinction in this new queer jungle. I’m writing now to describe what it looks and feels like to be written out of history.
My generation of lesbian activists, who honed our identity politics and confronted racism and classism in the spaces of women’s music events and women’s bookstores, are approaching a cultural expiration date. Having achieved many of the radical goals we pursued through the late twentieth century—same-sex marriage, antidiscrimination laws, openly lesbian celebrities and politicians—we are indeed celebrating new...

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Chapter 1: The Soundtrack of Our Awakening

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pp. 23-62

For more than thirty years, I’ve collected the work of feminist musicians and comedians who enjoyed cult status as lesbian stage performers in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. These groundbreaking artists, earning very little in return for what they gave to the women’s community, worked tirelessly as local and national activists. Against all odds, they made the subject of lesbian rights into dance music, whether on bass guitar, piano, banjo, drum kit, saxophone, horn, djembe, or flute. They lent a lesbian identity to jazz, rap, romantic ballads, electric guitar licks, African drumming,...

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Chapter 2: By the Time I Got to Wombstock

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pp. 63-112

First, there was women’s music: the sound of lesbian existence. Next, there were women’s music festivals: destinations and sites for instant immersion in (primarily) lesbian community. Women’s music festivals took shape within the first year or two of recorded lesbian music in the early 1970s, soon becoming the signature networking events in radical lesbian culture....

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Chapter 3: Hunting and Gathering A Literacy of One’s Own

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pp. 113-148

In the summer of 2014, while working as a guest lecturer for Olivia Cruises, I gave a series of talks about the changing status of women in world history. Afterward, lesbian passengers of all ages sought me out to offer their own perspectives, and two conversations were particularly moving. One woman, in her early sixties, celebrated the rapid improvements in gay and lesbian civil rights she’d lived to see. She confided, “Sometimes I can’t even believe it! The pace of change has been so sweeping that I can only compare it, maybe, to being African American and in just one lifetime going from slavery to seeing the election...

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Chapter 4: Imagining an Eruv

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pp. 149-176

Jewish women forged new communities of their own during the second wave of American feminism. The three quotes above show wide varieties in approach and in leadership: the Orthodox wife of an Orthodox rabbi discovered her own feminism; a radical lesbian separatist defended Jewish women’s roles in lesbian separatism; the first woman ordained as a recognized rabbi in the United States acknowledged the burden of being a feminist role model. There was certainly no one approach to carving...

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Chapter 5: Points of Erasure Remembering Generation Flannel

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pp. 177-202

Right now, many female activists in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties are gazing thoughtfully into the glowing embers of lesbian culture. For us, this is still an active campfire where we gather and warm ourselves; one which, we hope, will not fade away into forgotten ash, but instead retain hot coals to stoke new fires. Such images of heat and spark have always served to symbolize shifts in leadership; think of that other fire-based metaphor, the passing of the torch—presumably, to a next...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 203-204

There is no greater pleasure than acknowledging those whose support, mentoring, assistance, and love helped bring a book into print. I am delighted to express my gratitude to the following persons and institutions: The Barbara Deming Fund for Women granted me sufficient funds to attend the Old Lesbians Organizing for Change oral history conference in Houston, Texas. A Hedgebrook residency on Whidbey Island allowed focus, sisterhood, and writing time for completion of one of the most challenging chapters herein. I’m grateful to Bill Leap, who has consistently invited me to present radical new work at the annual...

Notes

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pp. 205-218

Bibliography

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pp. 219-224

Index

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pp. 225-249