Reprinting a letter from Kelly Cogswell, Project Director on Lesbian Avengers Project
December 6, 2010
In 1992, six New York City dykes threw down the gauntlet: “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?”
By 1994, a multitude had responded, including me, a 24-year-old lesbian fresh from Kentucky. The fire-eating Lesbian Avengers mobilized twenty thousand dykes for a march on Washington, and almost as many for Dyke Marches in New York and San Francisco. More than fifty chapters spanned the globe, and periodicals from The New York Times to Newsweek had taken note.
Fighting for the visibility and survival of lesbians everywhere, we demanded school boards teach about lesbian lives, took over homophobic radio and TV stations, crisscrossed the U.S. in “freedom rides,” unleashed plagues of crickets on ungodly ministries, integrated homocoming parades, waltzed in Grand Central, ate fire in front of the White House, and marched en masse in cities from Minneapolis and New Orleans to Vancouver and London. We also took out gay activism where it had never been before – into the heart of heartland politics – successfully beating back anti-gay legislation in rural Idaho.
Almost two decades later, it’s time to inspire a new generation with this extraordinary story, partly as an antidote to the failures of de-gayed campaigns like Proposition 8 in California and the marriage “equality” drive in New York, but mostly as a springboard to the future.
By documenting the Lesbian Avengers, I want to do more than recover an exciting chunk of queer history. I want to reignite the present, share their direct action and grassroots organizing skills with activists working today, and above all, challenge young queers to imagine their own bold, liberated lives, in which they’re empowered to celebrate their difference, and march when they have to – and not just to the altar.
Sound good? Forward this email and let others know about the project, get involved yourself, or donate at www.lesbianavengers.com.
Our website www.lesbianavengers.com uses resources like articles, photos, palm cards, flyers, and video to tell this incredible story and share activist resources.
Free e-books for activists will give step-by-step instructions on how to organize demos and attract media coverage, revealing lessons such as why de-gayed campaigns always backfire.
A video oral history project will offer an intimate look at former Avengers, how the group worked, and the impact on their lives.
A re-released DVD of the extraordinary 1993 documentary Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire, Too will bring the group to life for a wider audience with subtitles and captions.
Exhibits and festivals beginning in 2012 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the group’s founding and encourage dykes everywhere to re-imagine the world. How many will there be? That’s up to you.
What YOU Can Do
• Make a tax-deductible donation via Paypal
$75 transcribes one video interview
$150 converts a handbook into one e-book format
$500 shoots, edits, transcribes one video interview and gets an excerpt online
$2500 adds Spanish subtitles to Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire, Too.
$5000 sponsors a traveling exhibit
• Be the point person for an exhibit or festival in your area.
• Friend the project on Facebook, or join our mailing list to receive occasional updates.
• A former Avenger? Tell your story, or help others tell theirs.
• Open your closet and root out flyers, photographs or news clippings to share.
Thank you very much for your participation and support!
The Lesbian Avenger Documentary Project is sponsored in part by Homocom, an LGBT communications project and 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.