[EPISODE] The Stonewall Uprising and the Lesbian Community
Jeff talks about Karla’s experience and her involvement in the lebsians and gay rights movement. In 1974, she worked for Pace University in the english department and she taught english as a second language. During 1984, Pace established their LGBTQ programs, which was started by Karla. The LGBTQ students created a program called doing with difference and they each counted the number of letters so the numbers can appear only in the letters and not in their transcript. They were afraid they wouldn’t be accepted so they decided to keep their door closed during their program.
Karla changed her name in 1969, as part of the women’s movement and she didn’t like her last name because it reminded her of the Berlin Wall. Due to the Vietnam war, the students took over the Pace University building for about 10 days. The guys wanted the women to make food and sleep with them to get through there revolution. Since that situation occurred, Karla became a feminist. She joined the Red stockings, a feminist group that developed awareness about homosexuals. At first, she liked what the group did for lesbians, but later the group only focused on heterosexual woman, so Karla felt like she didn’t fit in. Karla wants to organize a lesbian and bi organization in other schools so everyone can feel accepted.
Jeff and Karla talk about the night of the stonewall uprising. Karla says she went to the second night of the stone wall to see what’s happening and when she arrived everything was the same. On the door it stated “everyone cooperated with the police and go home” and she said everyone remained peaceful so she had no idea what was going on. In addition, Karla talks about GLF and when she met GLF it made her feel like she was home. She considers the Gay Liberation for Women family. She also joined the radical lesbians and later the action they took was called lavender mineses action. The Radical Lesbians and Gay Liberation For women became one big group. They created “women identify women’’ as a group effort to voice their opinion about gay rights. She joined other organizations, such as the Rat magazine, which was a counter cultural women magazine talking about the women’s movement. Karla tried to make people happy in their own skin and wanted people to join her groups.
Flavia Rando, an accomplished scholar and activist in queer activities and lesbian affairs and Fran Winant, an award winning poet and painter (Looking at Women (1971), Dyke Jacket (1976), and Goddess of Lesbian Dreams (1980)), join us on the show tonight.
For many years Flavia ran an art editing business, but went back and got her graduate degree to start teaching after growing bored of her time as an editor. One of the elements of the lesbian revolution was the huge cultural renaissance and explosion of art in the community. Before stonewall lesbian life was an extremely difficult time laced with turmoil, abuse, and violence. Stonewall had a drastic and immediate improvement on the quality of lesbian life, as it gave way to incredible strides in the forming of communities and alliances and exposure of culture. The villages were both lesbian culture centers of New York producing art and culture. Moving up to Harlem we see the celebration of drag balls, though it is uncertain if women took roles in these balls. However, Harlem was another center of Lesbian activity.
Guests are welcomed back with a little bit on the exhibition highlighting lesbian herstory from Flavia. The exhibition expresses ideals of value and the expression of the self through art in the lesbian and queer lens. The exhibition focuses on the lesbian herstory as well as the experiences of lesbians during the stonewall era. The exhibition is running through September 22. September 20 holds a special clothing event in the exhibition with thousands of tee shirts with political slogans and countless buttons. A section on “meaningful firsts” is present as well such as anthologies of poems. Fran’s poetry speaks on different elements of gay life with struggles in identity and declaration.