We did it and we’ll do it again.
Since the November election, white supremacists, anti-gay activists and hardcore misogynists have come out in the open, trying to reverse the legal gains of the last two decades, and harassing us and attacking us in the flesh.
One group fighting back is Lesbian Avengers 25, using anniversary exhibits about this direct action group to inspire new activism.
The Lesbian Avengers were launched almost 25 years ago during another wave of anti-gay and white supremacist hate. This was their call to action: “LESBIANS! DYKES! GAY WOMEN!… We’re wasting our lives being careful. Imagine what your life could be. Aren’t you ready to make it happen?”
A multitude responded. Twenty thousand dykes marched on Washington. More than 60 chapters sprang up worldwide, launching Dyke Marches near and far. The Lesbian Avengers also took “out” gay activism where it had never been before — into the heart of heartland politics where they successfully beat back anti-gay legislation in rural Idaho.
Some of their most powerful actions addressed the convergence of hate. In their very first action, the Lesbian Avengers gave out balloons to support the Rainbow Curriculum in New York, designed to teach little kids about diversity. They learned to eat fire to call attention to the firebombing deaths by neo-Nazis of Hattie Mae Cohens and Brian Mock, a black lesbian and her white gay friend. The Avengers even took over a radio station spewing hate against LGBT folks and people of color.
Kelly Cogswell, a coordinator of Lesbian Avengers 25, says her goal in sharing the Avenger story is to prove that it’s possible to fight back.
“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. It’s not magic. But sustained activism does make a difference. The Avenger story also shows that you have to take a leap of faith. The Lesbian Avengers ended up having 60 groups all over the country, and mobilizing 20,000 dykes in DC for the first Dyke March ever. But the whole thing only happened because six people sat down in a room and said, ‘We’re doing this, whether anybody joins us or not.'”
The Lesbian Avengers 25 welcomes your support, whether it’s participating in the Lesbian Avenger oral history project, coordinating a mobile exhibit in your area, or donating to their current Indiegogo campaign (through Dec. 20). For more information, check out the Lesbian Avengers website, or Lesbian Avengers 25 Facebook page.
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