Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lesbian Pride

By Andrea Dworkin

[Editor's Note: Andrea delivered this speech at a rally for Lesbian Pride Week, Central Park, New York City, June 28, 1975.]

For me, being a lesbian means three things --

First, it means that I love, cherish, and respect women in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul. This love of women is the soil in which my life is rooted. It is the soil of our common life together. My life grows out of this soil. In any other soil, I would die. In whatever ways I am strong, I am strong because of the power and passion of this nurturant love.

Second, being a lesbian means to me that there is an erotic passion and intimacy which comes of touch and taste, a wild, salty tenderness, a wet sweet sweat, our breasts, our mouths, our cunts, our intertangled hairs, our hands. I am speaking here of a sensual passion as deep and mysterious as the sea, as strong and still as the mountain, as insistent and changing as the wind.

Third, being a lesbian means to me the memory of the mother, remembered in my own body, sought for, desired, found, and truly honored. It means the memory of the womb, when we were one with our mothers, until birth when we were torn asunder. It means a return to that place inside, inside her, inside ourselves, to the tissues and membranes, to the moisture and blood.

There is a pride in the nurturant love which is our common ground, and in the sensual love, and in the memory of the mother--and that pride shines as bright as the summer sun at noon. That pride cannot be degraded. Those who would degrade it are in the position of throwing handfuls of mud at the sun. Still it shines, and those who sling mud only dirty their own hands.

Sometimes the sun is covered by dense layers of dark clouds. A person looking up would swear that there is no sun. But still the sun shines. At night, when there is no light, still the sun shines. During rain or hail or hurricane or tornado, still the sun shines.

Does the sun ask itself, "Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?" No, it burns and it shines. Does the sun ask itself, "What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?" No, it burns, it shines. Does the sun ask itself, "Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?" No, it burns, it shines.

In this country in the coming years, I think that there will be a terrible storm. I think that the skies will darken beyond all recognition. Those who walk the streets will walk them in darkness. Those who are in prisons and mental institutions will not see the sky at all, only the dark out of barred windows. Those who are hungry and in despair may not look up at all. They will see the darkness as it lies on the ground in front of their feet. Those who are raped will see the darkness as they look up into the face of the rapist. Those who are assaulted and brutalized by madmen will stare intently into the darkness to discern who is moving toward them at every moment. It will be hard to remember, as the storm is raging, that still, even though we cannot see it, the sun shines. It will be hard to remember that still, even though we cannot see it, the sun burns. We will try to see it and we will try to feel it, and we will forget that it warms us still, that if it were not there, burning, shining, this earth would be a cold and desolate and barren place.

As long as we have life and breath, no matter how dark the earth around us, that sun still burns, still shines. There is no today without it. There is no tomorrow without it. There was no yesterday without it. That light is within us--constant, warm, and healing. Remember it, sisters, in the dark times to come.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

The Amazon Trail: Lez Lit Heroine -- Katherine V Forrest

By Lee Lynch

Katherine V. Forrest is the Lambda Award-winning author of the best-selling lesbian romance Curious Wine, her first novel, published by Naiad Press in 1983. A wonderful lesbian romance and portrayal of lesbian eroticism, it has sold over half a million copies, and is considered a classic of lesbian fiction. In 1994 it became the first audio book, other than those produced by Womyn's Braille Press, based on a lesbian novel.

Katherine wrote sci fi novels Daughters of a Coral Dawn, Daughters of an Amber Noon and Daughters Of An Emerald Dusk. She has published eight mystery novels featuring lesbian LAPD Detective Kate Delafield, a former Marine and Vietnam vet. Her most recent mystery, Hancock Park, features Delafield.

Amateur City, the initial Kate Delafield book, was the first lesbian police procedural to come out, but it was much more than that. Delafield was a daring fictional model no one had seen before. She was larger than life, leading the way, as her creator has, for so many real-life lesbians, and addressing a multitude of social issues as she did.

In her books Katherine portrays lesbians as community -- and lesbians in all our diversity. Her stories embrace and strengthen us, and give us permission to live our lives fully just as we are. Plus they are always good reads. At the same time, because her books reached non-gay readers through her mainstream publisher, she educated a whole new audience to see lesbians in a whole new light. Katherine is one of our crusaders, wielding a sword made of words.

The first time I met Katherine Forrest, we were hawking books at the Naiad Press booth at a National Women's Studies Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Little did I know that she would be a keeper, a sister author whose life would bump up against mine, very pleasantly, for decades to come.

My initial take on Katherine was of a quiet woman with great dignity and a ready smile. She had an authority about her. Later I would learn that she had an amazing amount of knowledge about the craft of writing and a generous spirit.

I have a vivid memory of that mid-1980s conference: a dormitory room packed with literary lesbians: Ann Bannon, Barbara Grier, Donna McBride, Carol Seajay, Tee Corinne, and Katherine Forrest, all of us trying to decide if Naiad Press dared title my first volume of short stories Old Dyke Tales.

It seems that I have always spent time with Katherine in unlikely places. I remember talking books at a lesbian campground in deeply rural, aggressively conservative Southern Oregon and I have photographs of us and our partners high above volcanic Crater Lake.

We met again in Huntington Beach, California, where Katherine sat over a borrowed dining room table with me, helping me bring one of my books to life. Most recently, I got to hang out with her at the desert dude ranch where the Golden Crown Literary Society held its conference this year.

In all the time I have known her, I have seldom met anyone as unwaveringly supportive, kind and helpful about my work. Katherine was my editor for a time at Naiad Press. I am a terrible student: I fight learning new things tooth and nail. Somehow, this gentle, soft-spoken woman managed, without forcing me, to share her craft in a way that I could learn a few things without bruising my pride. To this day, I continue to use the many lessons she taught me and I think of her each time I do.

Katherine was the 1998 recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation's Pioneer Award, is a four-time Lammy winner (in mystery and science fiction) and currently serves on their board of trustees. She is has been inducted into the "Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame." She has edited several anthologies of lesbian fiction. Her 1987 Delafield novel Murder at the Nightwood Bar has been optioned for film.

Chicago reviewer Marie Kuda wrote that Katherine's novel Flashpoint "revivifies the impact of living gay from Stonewall to the present… no little feat."

Katherine also put together a holiday anthology, All In the Seasoning, and an important retrospective of early lesbian writing: Lesbian Pulp Fiction, A Review of Lesbian Paperback Novels from 1950 to 1965. Mysteries Liberty Square and Apparition Alley, are being reissued by Spinsters Ink. Bywater Books has republished Dreams and Swords which features Katherine's erotic novella "O Captain, My Captain."

She spent a decade editing at Naiad Press, currently is Editorial Supervisor for Spinsters Ink and continues to write, teach and lecture around the country. And she's done all this only since she started writing at age 40 – not that long ago!

Katherine added a "Goldie" to her wealth of awards this year when she received both the Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award and the Lesbian Anthology (Non-Erotica) Award for her most recent effort, Love, Castro Street: Reflections of San Francisco, a collection she edited with Jim Van Buskirk.

One of our most loved and accomplished writers, Katherine V. Forrest inspires awe in readers, respect in writers and a well-deserved devotion in Lesbian Nation, which has long needed kind, stable, bright, talented, informed and caring heroes like her.

Copyright 2008 Lee Lynch


Lee Lynch is the writer of more than a dozen dyke books, among them "Sweet Creek", as well as book reviews, articles, feature stories and a syndicated column. You can read more about Lee here . You can check out her Lee's Myspace page . And visit Lee's Tripod homepage. Lee's most recent book, The Butch Cook Book, Edited by Lee Lynch, Sue Hardesty and Nel Ward, is now available at:

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