Lesbian Feminist Liberation

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Lesbian Feminist Liberation
Founded1972 (1972)
Key people
Jean O'Leary
Formerly called
Lesbian Liberation Committee

Lesbian Feminist Liberation was a lesbian rights advocacy organization in New York City formed in 1972.


Lesbian Feminist Liberation was originally the Lesbian Liberation Committee and a part of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). In 1972, when the members felt the GAA was not giving enough focus to lesbian and feminist issues, they left GAA and formed the Lesbian Feminist Liberation.[1][2][3]:92 The departure was coordinated by Jean O'Leary.[4] The formation of Lesbian Feminist Liberation left the Radicalesbians (RL) group with few members.[5] The Lesbian Liberation Committee, and initially the Lesbian Feminist Liberation as well, met at an old firehouse at 99 Wooster Street in SoHo, the location was known as "The Firehouse."[6]


In 1973, Lesbian Feminist Liberation participated in the campaign to lobby the New York City Council to add sexual orientation to the city's anti-discrimination city ordinance.[3]:96

Twenty-five members of the organization attended The Dick Cavett Show and disrupted his interview with George Gilder, an author the organization believed was anti-feminist and anti-lesbian.[3]:98[7]:102

The organization also organized a demonstration with 200 participants, and a large fake lavender colored dinosaur outside the National Museum of American History to protest sexism at the museum.[3]:98

They picketed at a Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts movie theater that was showing Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which some feminists found offensive for its depiction of lesbian sadomasochism.[3]:98

Lesbian Feminist Liberation's Jean O'Leary speaks at 1973 LGBT Pride March in New York City.

The organization opposed the performance by drag queens at the 1973 LGBT Pride March in New York City. As they passed out flyers, Sylvia Rivera, of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, took the microphone from emcee Vito Russo and spoke against the sentiment and spoke of the harassment and arrests of drag queens on the street, some of whom had been involved with the Stonewall riots. Lesbian Feminist Liberation's Jean O'Leary then insisted on responding by denouncing drag as misogynist and criticizing the march for being too male-dominated. This prompted Lee Brewster of Queens Liberation Front to denounce anti-transgender lesbian feminists. The increasingly angry crowd only calmed when Bette Midler, who heard on the radio in her Greenwich Village apartment, arrived, took the microphone, and began singing "Friends". This was one of many events in early 1970s where lesbian and transgender activists clashed.[3]:113[8]

When NBC aired "Flowers of Evil", an episode of Police Woman about a trio of lesbians murdering nursing home residents for their money, the organization staged a zap at NBC's New York City headquarters on November 19, 1973. Ten women entered the building in pairs at 15-minute intervals, traveling by elevator to different floors before converging on the Standards and Practices offices. Advised that vice president Herminio Traviesas would not return to the office until the following week, demonstrators announced their intention to wait until he returned and occupied his office overnight. Around 75 women demonstrated in front of the building. The following morning half of the women left, along with the children of the lead protester. The remaining protesters unfurled a twenty foot long banner from the balcony of vice president Herminio Traviesas's office reading "LESBIANS PROTEST NBC". They and street-level picketers chanted slogans like "NBC works against lesbians" and "Lesbians are sitting in".[7]:112–13 The demonstrators hoped to attract both network news coverage and arrests. When they realized neither was forthcoming, they left the building. While the networks ignored the story, it was picked up by local media and the wire services.[9] Ultimately, NBC agreed not to rerun the episode.[7]

In 1974, the organization worked with New York Radical Feminists to increase the visibility of women at the New York City LGBT Pride March.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nestle, Joan (2007). The Feminist Memoir Project — A Fem's Feminist History. Rutgers University Press. p. 338. ISBN 9780813539737. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  2. ^ Myers, JoAnne (August 20, 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement. Scarecrow Press. p. 165. ISBN 9780810863279. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Stein, Marc (2012). Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement. Rutledge. ISBN 9780415874106. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  4. ^ "Jean O'Leary Is Dead at 57". gaycitynews.nyc. 4 (23). Gay City News. June 2005. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  5. ^ Zimmerman, Bonnie, ed. (August 21, 2013). Encyclopedia of Lesbian Histories and Cultures. Routledge. p. 636. ISBN 9781136787515. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Dyke, Mindy". sinisterwisdom.org. Sinister Wisdom. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Capsuto, Steven (2000). Alternate Channels: The Uncensored Story of Gay and Lesbian Images on Radio and Television. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-41243-5.
  8. ^ Sycamore, Mattilda (April 22, 2008). That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 9781593763145. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  9. ^ Alwood, Edward (1996). Straight News. Columbia University Press. pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-231-08437-4.
  10. ^ Baker, Carrie N. (2008). The Women's Movement Against Sexual Harassment. Cambridge University Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780521879354. Retrieved June 28, 2015.

External links[edit]