Anderson, Hillary Rae (2018-04). 'I identify with fighters': The South and Southern Identity in Lesbian Feminist Activism in the 1970s. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This dissertation is a historical examination of the development of 1970s Southern lesbian feminism in the United States. It uses archival research, lesbian feminist periodicals and publications, and Southern lesbian feminist artistic production from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The theory of intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, and elements of social movement theory informed the analysis. The timing of the 1970s brought together a particular political climate that nurtured Southern lesbian feminism. The 1970s were after major legislative victories in the civil rights movement, during a period of growth for American feminism when feminist and lesbian feminist print culture were at their height, and the decade was after the gay rights movement became militant, but before the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. This dissertation argues that Southern lesbian feminism's development in the 1970s made the American South a new site for political agitation among self-identified lesbians; it proved the importance of Southernness - Southern identity - in lesbian feminist praxis. Southern culture shaped and tied together social constructions of race, gender, and sexuality, which caused Southern lesbian feminists to adopt a revolutionary political philosophy that uniquely combined elements of Black Power, radical feminism, and gay liberation, seeking to end multiple oppressions by transforming society. Manifestation of Southern identity in their activism is evident in the cultural production of Southern lesbian feminists. The activism of Southern lesbian feminists often differed from the activism of Southern gay, especially white, men during the decade. Even though Southern lesbians and gay men formed some political alliances and coalitions, Southern lesbian feminist theory and practice were sometimes at odds with the activist agendas of many Southern gay men. Southern identity also distinguished lesbian feminist activism among self-identified Southern lesbians from that of lesbians in other regions of the United States. The 1970 Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention, the mid-decade growth of gay rights organizations in the South, Anita Bryant's 1977 Save Our Children (from Homosexuals) crusade, and the 1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, evince these differences.

publication date

  • April 2018
  • May 2018
  • May 2018
  • May 2018
  • May 2018
  • May 2018