Tag Archives: Lesbian

Intergenerational Lesbians: How Can We Learn from Each Other?

By Jenna Weston

The feminist poet Muriel Rukeyser famously wrote, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?/ The world would split open.” What if a dozen women told their truth to each other? A hundred, a thousand, a million? We did just that in the late 1960s and the 1970s. It was called Women’s Consciousness Raising, and it was a powerful method of shaping radical feminist awareness and political action, as well as building a female cultural alternative to the patriarchy.

In these present turbulent times– with judgement, canceling, and factional opposition all in ascendency– I believe the tool of consciousness raising could offer a way for lesbians of different generations to communicate with each other and find common ground.

Second-wave consciousness raising groups were so effective because they were a balance of the personal and the political. They were not study groups or therapy sessions. They were a way of communicating that was designed to honor each woman’s experience– without interruption, argument or debate. We spoke in the concrete, not the abstract about our individual lives. Then together, we drew insights and conclusions from the common patterns that emerged.

We met weekly, usually with no more than a dozen women. Keeping the groups small nurtured the intimacy and trust needed to open one’s self up to the most vulnerable truths of our personal experiences. It also allowed us ample time to fully share, widely explore, and deeply listen.

I was in my 20s when I joined a women’s CR group, as they were called. I was married to a man but knew somehow I was not living authentically. In hearing the stories of other women’s lives I realized I was not alone, and, over time, this validation gave me the courage to radically change my life. I came out as a lesbian, and became an activist. I also learned that other women could be smart, fierce and passionate—not something I experienced from most of the closed, conservative, gender-role following females I’d grown up around.

Especially in the beginning sessions of our CR groups we expressed a lot of anger about the misogyny and domination we had been subjected to. Many of us had suppressed it for years, for fear of retaliation. In the group we could freely name our oppressions and oppressors. We soon came to value our rebelliousness and were amazed at how words came pouring out, given a supportive environment. We appreciated each other for how honest and brave we were. We came to realize we were no longer interested in procuring “a piece of the pie” or being accepted into mainstream society– things the first wave feminists had fought for. We declared that the whole pie was rotten, and we needed to walk away and come up with a completely new recipe.

Sitting together in circles – usually on the floor of someone’s living room – we strip-searched our souls, digging down deep into previously hidden sources of our own women’s knowledge. We identified and repudiated the agents and symbols of our oppression. By throwing off burdens we had been carrying that weren’t ours, we opened a space for a Woman’s Way of Knowing to enter. From that we built a uniquely women’s culture of books, music, festivals, lands, spirituality and politics. It was intersectional, although we didn’t call it that back then, as we came to see and address how all patriarchal dominator hierarchies were connected, systemic and structural.

For a long time our structures and accomplishments went almost unnoticed by the mainstream we had withdrawn much of our energy from. But then the beauty of our creations began to be seen—and coveted. We could not be allowed to live lives that did not revolve around men. A backlash rose up, and it still continues. All lesbians– of every generation– are living under that backlash now.

I believe this is the perfect time for us to come together again in CR groups and share with each other the truths of our lives. Young and old, telling each other what it is like to be a woman, a lesbian, in these harsh times. Inventing and re-inventing our 21st-century selves together, not following some externally-imposed theories. Replacing dogma with discovery– arrived at mutually. Through the process of each woman sharing in turn her own experiences and observations, we can learn so much from each other. We don’t have to be isolated, or depend on outside sources like the media to tell us how to think, what to believe. Our principles and truths can evolve holistically, from our combined parts, and infuse our new coalition of multiple generations with lesbian empowerment.

Note: Jenna Weston’s article was published originally in Rain and Thunder: A Radical Feminist Journal of Discussion and Activism, Issue #77, Spring/Summer 2021.

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I am lesbian

by Rand Hall

lesbian – a woman
a woman not defined by man
by her relationship to man, any man
but by her
her love of woman

lesbian goes against the grain
strong, defiant, female
by birth
not by feminine description
or restriction

lesbian is outside the lines
the girl definition that binds
she is self-defined
so fine

may be
soft on the outside
or hard
ly soft
but always soft on the inside

may be high femme
or drag butch
or an androgyne
or none of the above
but she can love
and when she does
she loves
a woman

she is
a lesbian

Rand Hall

Rand Hall

I am not gay, though I am queer (different from the norm), I am not unclear. I claim my birthright as a woman for there is nothing stronger or more powerful on this earth than a woman.

I claim lesbian, a womon-loving-woman. I give thanks every day that I was not born a man, needing a d**k to make me feel “bigger than, better than,” always aware of and needing to take care of my d**k. Creator was kind and I was born a woman.

Woman – the essence and the word is still vilified in this man-centric civilization. Every strength, intelligence, ability, sense of self, sense of power, demand for freedom and independence — we are conditioned to believe must be a “masculine” trait. No wonder that young dykes and “butches” feel they can not be women, can not identify as “woman.” Better to be “other” or anything but weak, useless women.

I am 60 years old and I am no boy, no matter how you spell it (boi), no insignificant, irresponsible, unthreatening child – no immature male child. Hell no! I am a woman. Fully grown and taking my own. I do not have to redefine or rename me because I do not fit their definition of woman. I am a woman, this is what woman is. Strong, capable, powerful and able – I am a woman. Tender, loving, alive – woman. Stand up in your face, take my full space, know its ALL my place – woman. I am a woman-loving-woman – I am lesbian.

Lesbian is not a queer, not a gay woman, not a “bisexual” not an “in transition” person. Lesbian is a woman who defies patriarchal definition and thinking. Lesbian loves women, including her woman self.

Feeling like there is a “place” for each of us is critical for our spirits to soar. Many of us fought hard for lesbian space, had to create it, are still fighting to maintain it. I am a lesbian and I want lesbian space, I want a lesbian conference. I want to share readings and writings with women who identify as lesbian.

I do not want to give up Womonwrites: A Southeastern LESBIAN Writer’s Conference (1) to males, to male energy, male thinking, male beings, to those who were born or raised male or who claim male privilege, to women whose experience or focus is male, to women who accept male definition.

Centuries of male dominance have not been able to erase women-loving-women, women identified women, lesbians, amazons.  I love seeing and hearing the younger women sharing with, growing with earlier feminists, lesbians, landykes, survivors and pioneers. Will those we welcome into our homes and our hearts succeed where the men have failed.

Perhaps if we do not surrender our identity as a Lesbian gathering, young women will not come and Womonwrites may eventually die. Better to die naturally than be murdered. When there are no longer any Womonwriters left that identify as lesbian, there will be no need for Womonwrites.

If some younger women feel that “lesbian” does not include them, perhaps they will start new gatherings that meet their needs and their sense of identity and community. But do not come to a LESBIAN gathering and try to erase the lesbian.



1. The Womonwrites conference recently split into two conferences. One, Dykewriters Southeast Lesbian Writers Conference, continues the Womonwrites tradition of womyn-born-womyn-only space. Dykewriters will have its first conference in December, 2019. Here is their description of Dykewriters: “Dykewriters create space for womyn-loving-womyn who are born female, still live as female, identify as lesbians, and love to write, read, and listen to lesbian words. We are primarily for lesbians in the southeastern region of the United States, but lesbians from other regions are welcome. We celebrate womyn, affirm our herstory as lesbians, and work together to find avenues of creativity and expansion.” For more information see the Dykewriters website.

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