Black Lesbians in the 70s

During the initial planning session for the In Amerika They Call Us Dykes: Lesbian Lives in the 70s Spring Series, there was lack of clarity about the activity of Black Lesbians in the early part of the 1970s. The aim for Black Lesbian Herstory in the 70s: An At Home Tour and Guide to the Black Lesbian Herstory of the Collection was to present information to the lesbian community and increase Black Lesbian invisibility.

On April 24th, 2010, a Zine in the format of a timeline of compiled clippings from the Lesbian Herstory Archives subject files was distributed to an audience of over 100 women. The Park Slope limestone was well attended: curator of the Keepin On Exhibit, and poet, professor, Georgia Brooks coyly strolled into the backroom; filmmaker, Cheryl Dunye roamed the Keepin On Exhibit and discussed her new projects; AALUSC Director, Kim Ford provided an overview of the origins of Salsa Soul Sisters; UConn Rainbow Center Director, Fleurette King was vocal about her commitment to bringing this herstory to her campus.

The extreme energy was initiated by the Players, four Black Lesbians who enacted the text of the Zine’s clippings. Arianne Benford, Olive Demetrius, Tanika Harbor, and Kaz, collectively read excerpts in the voices of women such as Pat Parker, Audre Lorde and Beverly Smith. Audience members read from the notable Conditions 5 Black Women’s issue, and the room was filled with voices of 70s lesbians from the Lesbian Herstory Archive’s Spoken Word Collection. Hours of wine and cheese, hugs, tears, and networking later, this event was a reunion. The Fall Festival will hold a replication on Saturday, October 9th where the Black Lesbian in the 70s Zine will be distributed and the conversations may continue.