“Who Hid Lesbian History?”

By Lillian Faderman

“Before the rise of lesbian-feminist movement in the early 1970s, twentieth century women writers with great ambitions were generally intimidated into silence about the lesbian experiences in their lives.. We cannot blame them for not providing us with a clear picture of what it was like for a woman to love another woman in their day.. But we might expect that before the twentieth century, before love between women was counted among the diseases, women would have had little reason to disguise their emotional attachments; therefore, they should have left a record of their love of other women. And they did. However, it is impossible to discover that record by reading what most of their twentieth-century biographers have had to say about their lives.”(41)

“It is difficult for heterocentric biographers to deal with love between women in their subject’s lives as it is for ethnocentric white scholars to deal with Third World subject matter, and their products are generally not to be trusted. If we wish to know about the lives of women it is vital to get back to their diaries, letters, and any original source material that is available. It is also vital to produce biographies divested of the heterocentric perspective. Women’s lives need to be reinterpreted, and we need to do it ourselves.” (46)

The New Lesbian Studies: Into the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Bonnie Zimmerman and Toni A.H. McNaron

The Feminist Press, 1996

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