Inside the Lesbian Archives: How Do We Remember Ourselves?

As the Second Wave Feminist Movement gained momentum, women and especially lesbians saw how their history had been forgotten and began asking: how do we preserve our legacy? As Joan Nestle, a lesbian writer and activist stated: “without our memories we are in an endless prison” (Hodges 13). Lesbian authors wrote about the erasure of their stories and other oppressions. Lesbian activists began creating archives to preserve these works and their history. One of the authors that contributed to this body of lesbian writing is Cher’rie Moraga. Her poem “It’s the Poverty” explores how the intersection of race, class, sexuality and gender affects one’s experiences. Sleeping beauty: a lesbian fairy tale, written by Vicki Gabriner and published by Sojourner Truth Press in 1971, continues this exploration of lesbian identity by shifting the well-known heterosexual love story to a lesbian one. These revolutionary poems and stories are conserved in archives across the country, such as the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY. The mission of the Archives, as stated by the mission statement on their website, is “to gather and preserve records of Lesbian lives and activities,” which “ensures future generations will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives” (Lesbian Herstory Archives). The creation and memorialization of lesbian history is vital to the movement because it unites generations of lesbians in their fight to be heard.

—Jocelyn Bliven

Inside the Lesbian Herstory Archives: Interview with Joan Nestle and Deborah Edel

“It’s the Poverty” by Cher’rie Moraga

“What Does It Take?” by Cher’rie Moraga

“Edward the Dyke” by Judy Grahn

Sleeping Beauty: a lesbian fairy tale by Vicki Gabriner

Works Cited:

Hodges, Beth. “An Interview with Joan and Deborah of the Lesbian Herstory Archives.” Sinister Wisdom, no. 11, Oct. 1979, pp. 3-13,

Lesbian Herstory Archives, Accessed 09 November 2021.