Karla Jay (born February 22, 1947) is a professor of English and the director of the Women's and Gender Studies program at Pace University. A pioneer in the field of lesbian and gay studies, she is widely published.
Jay was born Karla Jayne Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, to a conservative Jewish family. She attended the Berkeley Institute, a private girls' school in Brooklyn now called the Berkeley Carroll School. Later she attended Barnard College, where she majored in French, and graduated in 1968 after having taken part in the student demonstrations at Columbia University.
While she shared many of the goals of the radical left-wing of the late 1960s, Jay was uncomfortable with the male-supremacist behavior of many of the movement’s leaders. In 1969, she became a member of Redstockings. At around the same time she began using the name Karla Jay to reflect her feminist principles.
When activists founded the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the wake of the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, Jay, openly lesbian, was an early member, and became an active participant, balancing attendance at meetings with working and attending graduate school at New York University, majoring in comparative literature. She was one of the few women actively involved in the early gay rights movement on both coasts.
Jay was one of the members of the Lavender Menace group that formed to protest the exclusion of lesbians from mainstream Women's Liberation. She was involved in the planning and execution of the "Lavender Menace Zap" at the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City in May of 1970. The Lavender Menace Zap is considered a turning-point in the history of Second-wave feminism.
At Pace University's 10th Annual Dyson Distinguished Achievement Awards, that took place April 6, 2006, Karla Jay was honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award. She received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle in 2006.
Works and Publications
- The Gay Report: Lesbians and Gay Men Speak Out about Sexual Experiences and Lifestyles (Summit Books, 1979)
- The disciples of the tenth muse : Natalie Clifford Barney and Renee Vivien (Ph.D thesis, 1984)
- The Amazon and the Page: Natalie Clifford Barney and Renée Vivien (Indiana University Press, 1988)
- Tales of the Lavender Menace (Basic Books, 1999)
- Series editor of The Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life and Literature
- Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation, co-editor with Allen Young (Pyramid Books, 1972)
- After You're Out. co-editor with Allen Young (Jove, 1975)
- Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions, co-editor with Joanne Glasgow. (NYU Press, 1990)
- Lavender culture (NYU Press, 1978, 1994)
- Lesbian Erotics (NYU Press, 1995)
- Dyke Life: A Celebration of the Lesbian Experience (Perseus, 1996)
- Brownmiller, Susan (1999). In our time : memoir of a revolution. Dial. ISBN 0-385-31486-8.
- Duberman, Martin (1993). Stonewall. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-93602-5.
- Rapp, Linda (August 6, 2007), "Jay, Karla", glbtq.com
- Jay, Karla (1999). Tales of the Lavender Menace. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-08366-8.
- The violet quill : the emergence of gay writing after Stonewall. New York: St. Martin's. 1994. ISBN 0-312-11091-X.
- D'Erasmo, Stacey (April 4, 1999). "Out of the closet and into the streets". New York Times.