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Investigates the rise and fall of US American lesbian cultural institutions since the 1970s. LGBT Americans now enjoy the right to marry—but what will we remember about the vibrant cultural spaces that lesbian activists created in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Most are vanishing from the calendar—and from recent memory. The Disappearing L explores the rise and fall of the hugely Investigates the rise and fall of US American lesbian cultural institutions since the 1970s. LGBT Americans now enjoy the right to marry—but what will we remember about the vibrant cultural spaces that lesbian activists created in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Most are vanishing from the calendar—and from recent memory. The Disappearing L explores the rise and fall of the hugely popular women-only concerts, festivals, bookstores, and support spaces built by and for lesbians in the era of woman-identified activism. Through the stories unfolding in these chapters, anyone unfamiliar with the Michigan festival, Olivia Records, or the women’s bookstores once dotting the urban landscape will gain a better understanding of the era in which artists and activists first dared to celebrate lesbian lives. This book offers the backstory to the culture we are losing to mainstreaming and assimilation. Through interviews with older activists, it also responds to recent attacks on lesbian feminists who are being made to feel that they’ve hit their cultural expiration date. “The Disappearing L is both an ‘insider’ story and a well-written analysis of a neglected piece of cultural history. Morris delivers convincing arguments about why the lesbian-feminist era was important not only to the individuals who lived it but also to a broader understanding of what has come to be called ‘LGBT’ history. No one could be better positioned to write this book than Morris.” — Lillian Faderman, author of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle Bonnie J. Morris is Adjunct Professor of Women’s Studies at both George Washington University and Georgetown University. She is the author of several books, including Eden Built by Eves: The Culture of Women’s Music Festivals and Lubavitcher Women in America: Identity and Activism in the Postwar Era, also published by SUNY Press.


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Investigates the rise and fall of US American lesbian cultural institutions since the 1970s. LGBT Americans now enjoy the right to marry—but what will we remember about the vibrant cultural spaces that lesbian activists created in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Most are vanishing from the calendar—and from recent memory. The Disappearing L explores the rise and fall of the hugely Investigates the rise and fall of US American lesbian cultural institutions since the 1970s. LGBT Americans now enjoy the right to marry—but what will we remember about the vibrant cultural spaces that lesbian activists created in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Most are vanishing from the calendar—and from recent memory. The Disappearing L explores the rise and fall of the hugely popular women-only concerts, festivals, bookstores, and support spaces built by and for lesbians in the era of woman-identified activism. Through the stories unfolding in these chapters, anyone unfamiliar with the Michigan festival, Olivia Records, or the women’s bookstores once dotting the urban landscape will gain a better understanding of the era in which artists and activists first dared to celebrate lesbian lives. This book offers the backstory to the culture we are losing to mainstreaming and assimilation. Through interviews with older activists, it also responds to recent attacks on lesbian feminists who are being made to feel that they’ve hit their cultural expiration date. “The Disappearing L is both an ‘insider’ story and a well-written analysis of a neglected piece of cultural history. Morris delivers convincing arguments about why the lesbian-feminist era was important not only to the individuals who lived it but also to a broader understanding of what has come to be called ‘LGBT’ history. No one could be better positioned to write this book than Morris.” — Lillian Faderman, author of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle Bonnie J. Morris is Adjunct Professor of Women’s Studies at both George Washington University and Georgetown University. She is the author of several books, including Eden Built by Eves: The Culture of Women’s Music Festivals and Lubavitcher Women in America: Identity and Activism in the Postwar Era, also published by SUNY Press.

30 review for The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture

  1. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    I think this book asks a very pertinent question: what has happened to lesbian spaces? Why are "gay" events pretty much white and male by default? Who will record the history of lesbian activism? However I disagree with a lot of the book's thesis. Instead of blaming patriarchy, capitalism, or other kyriarchical forces which have been working against women, and certainly lesbians, since the beginning of time, Bonnie Morris takes the blame and puts it on: queers these days. (Queue the headlines: Mi I think this book asks a very pertinent question: what has happened to lesbian spaces? Why are "gay" events pretty much white and male by default? Who will record the history of lesbian activism? However I disagree with a lot of the book's thesis. Instead of blaming patriarchy, capitalism, or other kyriarchical forces which have been working against women, and certainly lesbians, since the beginning of time, Bonnie Morris takes the blame and puts it on: queers these days. (Queue the headlines: Millennials kill lesbianism!) Women-only music festivals were a big deal in the 70s/80s/90s. In fact, Mitchfest (a large music festival in Michigan where women would camp out in tents and there were stages where women-only bands would play) was still a thing up to a few years ago. I remember hearing about Mitchfest in the context of their "woman born woman" policy which was the festival's attempt to police people's gender, and only allow people who conformed to their cisnormative view of ladies enter the campground. This transphobic policy quite rightly gained a lot of negative attention for the festival, which shut down not too long ago. Instead of blaming the culture of transphobia for the demise of Mitchfest, the author just blames those politically correct young kids who prefer to call themselves "queer" rather than "lesbian." (Which is something she lambasts repeatedly.) I view a world in which the Mitchfest organizers just weren't transphobic and didn't play gender police, and actually did the right thing, and I can see a world where lesbian (or heck, queer) music festivals still exist. Mitchfest was on the WRONG side of history, there's no defending it. It is not a bad thing that it is gone. Did it have potential? Yes. Did it fail in its execution? Also yes. The author thinks that she can use the term "TERF" (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) in scare quotes so that it somehow doesn't apply to her and her compatriots, but she goes on repeatedly about how woman must be born as women. Pretty much every word written in this book proves the point that she is a trans-exclusionist. And I don't need to state how problematic that is. You can't go on and on about how lesbians had a movement inclusive of people of color and sought to address issues of racism and then not even bat an eyelash when discussing how you keep out an entire group of other people just because they didn't have the same experience of womanhood as you. There is absolutely a need for segregated spaces for oppressed groups. But we can't have somebody standing at the doorway deciding who belongs to each group. We can't have somebody saying that only certain types of oppressed groups are welcome, and others aren't. There is such a thing as a woman-only space that isn't exclusive of transwomen (or others who don't identify on the gender-binary). The fact that a lot of events are "queer" these days can be confusing to those who clearly identify with the "lesbian" category, especially given that the default gay event is male. But I am happier to live in a world where I might be a little confused, but where people are more comfortable expressing their sexuality outside of the boundaries of the gender binary. Besides, even in the conservative suburb where I live, there are plenty of lesbian Meetup groups and events. Lesbians haven't disappeared. There is something to blame for lesbian invisibility, but it certainly isn't anybody who identifies as queer. This was the whole question asked by the book, and it was never answered. On to the next topic: Who killed lesbian bookstores? Those damn millennials and their kindles! Nothing about big box stores. Nothing about increasingly overwhelming rent prices keeping independent shop keepers out of city centers. Let's forget about capitalism and just blame "kids these days." That's always been a pretty solid strategy whenever older people don't like things. (And to be clear, I'm not a millennial, I'm probably closer in age to the author, but I can't abide people doing these generational blame games. They're pointless.) I think the only strong chapter in the book had to do with Jewish lesbians and their importance to the lesbian movement. I don't think that has changed since the author's time. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is still rife even in the LGBTQ+ movement (see: Chicago Dyke March 2017). I do agree that there is a problem with progressive movements when any kind of association with a state (such as Israel) paints people as being hostile to progressivism. Myself, as a citizen of the US, could be held accountable for all of the horrific things that my country does, but most (at least US-based) progressives understand that I myself do not condone those actions, and am not to blame for them. Unfortunately when a Jewish lesbian holds a rainbow flag with a Star of David on it, somehow we should hold her accountable for things that a country she may not even live in is doing? I'm not saying that what Israel is doing is right. Just that we can't hold all Jewish people accountable for the actions of a state. Just as we can't hold all US-ians accountable for the actions of their government. Progressive movements really need to work on this problem. However this issue is not addressed with much depth at all in this book. I would have been much more interested in reading an entire book about Jewish folks in the lesbian and feminist movements. But the book came with all of the other transphobic and millennials-killed-bookstores crap as well. So ultimately I must say that this book was a huge disappointment, and I would not recommend it to anybody except those who want to hear about lesbian history from a TERF's point of view.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ariel ✨

    This book is a piece of living history, representative of the current state of lesbian culture. It quotes Autostraddle, the Advocate, and a host of other blogs, indie publications, and mainstream LGBT news sites. Bonnie Morris does not paint a very hopeful picture of the future of lesbian spaces, and I can't say I disagree with her. Any attempt to make a space for lesbians, be it a blog, Facebook group, or social gathering, is viewed with extreme suspicion. I can look around and guess how we got This book is a piece of living history, representative of the current state of lesbian culture. It quotes Autostraddle, the Advocate, and a host of other blogs, indie publications, and mainstream LGBT news sites. Bonnie Morris does not paint a very hopeful picture of the future of lesbian spaces, and I can't say I disagree with her. Any attempt to make a space for lesbians, be it a blog, Facebook group, or social gathering, is viewed with extreme suspicion. I can look around and guess how we got here, but Morris outlines the rise and perceived fall of lesbian spaces and publications with comprehensive research and primary source experiences. She does not tiptoe around major controversies, and I wonder if she ever thought that publishing this would harm her academic reputation. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the lesbian concerts and festivals of the 70s and 80s. It makes my heart ache for places I've never been, and I know other young lesbians feel the same way. I wish she would have extended some advice concerning where we might go from here. What can the young lesbian "torch bearers" do to help preserve our history and keep creating our own culture?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kitty

    This book makes me feel the way Dykes to Watch Out For does - homesick. As a young lesbian who's never known any thriving real life lesbian community, I ache. This book is just what young lesbians wanting our community are hungry for. I heard Dr. Bonnie had been blacklisted from running workshops on this book. I understand why. A lesbian who knows her history and can identify how it was taken away from her (and by who) is a most undesirable thing. If you're not a lesbian and/or identify as queer This book makes me feel the way Dykes to Watch Out For does - homesick. As a young lesbian who's never known any thriving real life lesbian community, I ache. This book is just what young lesbians wanting our community are hungry for. I heard Dr. Bonnie had been blacklisted from running workshops on this book. I understand why. A lesbian who knows her history and can identify how it was taken away from her (and by who) is a most undesirable thing. If you're not a lesbian and/or identify as queer and want to know what all of the dykes you obsessively scapegoat are all worked up over - read this. "Right now, many female activists in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties are gazing thoughtfully into the glowing embers of lesbian culture. For us, this is still an active campfire where we gather and warm ourselves; one which, we hope, will not fade away into forgotten ash, but instead retain hot coals to stoke new fires." We are the coals, and we will rise again. 😇🌈

  4. 5 out of 5

    l.

    Before you start talking about mean exclusionary terf altright lesbians, please read this. ETA: if you call the author a terf or refer to evil terfs in your review, you've missed the point lmao Before you start talking about mean exclusionary terf altright lesbians, please read this. ETA: if you call the author a terf or refer to evil terfs in your review, you've missed the point lmao

  5. 5 out of 5

    AM dial

    Read this book. It's part history, part memoir. It's a trip down memory lane while revitalizing us to remember what we are capable of doing. Read this book. It's part history, part memoir. It's a trip down memory lane while revitalizing us to remember what we are capable of doing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I'll probably add to this later, I just wanted to address comments in other reviews that Bonnie Morris blames trans women or the queer movement as the main culprit for the disappearance of lesbian physical spaces. It just is not true. Trans women are mentioned a total of four times in this 200+ page book, and the majority of her argument is that lesbians ourselves have abandoned our own cultural spaces in part due to pressure from inside the house so to speak to not be no-fun dykes, but more imp I'll probably add to this later, I just wanted to address comments in other reviews that Bonnie Morris blames trans women or the queer movement as the main culprit for the disappearance of lesbian physical spaces. It just is not true. Trans women are mentioned a total of four times in this 200+ page book, and the majority of her argument is that lesbians ourselves have abandoned our own cultural spaces in part due to pressure from inside the house so to speak to not be no-fun dykes, but more importantly because the mainstream acceptance of LGBT people has allowed us to buy our books at Barnes & Noble instead of women's bookstores and to go anywhere we want to have drinks, dates, or vacations instead of patronizing lesbian owned alternatives. When our only options were lesbian owned, they thrived. Now that we have more options, the majority of us have chosen to not make the effort (or spend the additional money that comes with buying books full price, for example) on keeping lesbian spaces alive. She is so clear that it is on us to change this, I can't imagine having actually read this book and come away with anything else. This is just one excerpt of many on this point: Finally, it must be asked: Do lesbians value lesbian culture and history? In quite a few cases, lesbian businesses, bookstores, presses, and festivals went under when lesbian consumers stopped supporting them—not deliberately or vindictively, but in significant enough numbers to break the bank. This exodus felt keenly disloyal to those who had provided, for years, uniquely lesbian services or environments that lifted the spirits of an oppressed community As lesbians gained rights and more opportunities opened up for them in the mainstream, a combination of factors led the exodus from festivals and bookstores. Bookstores of all kinds were affected by the shift to reading onscreen, digital media, and mobile devices, including Kindle. Festivals were affected by some women’s growing resistance to paying for a vacation that lacked hotel amenities, yet dared to require a workshift. ... We’ve seen how the disappearance of women’s community spaces, institutions, and events resulted from varied factors: economic loss, aging elders, more lesbian-friendly vacation and business options, and the next generation’s reliance on social media and Kindle rather than their local women’s bookstore. Perhaps the greatest changes are due to the LGBT community’s rapid normalizing in just one decade, beginning with the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning state sodomy laws (thus decriminalizing same-sex relationships) and continuing throughout the two Obama administrations. This still-ongoing shift from felon and pariah to mainstream status includes legal protections many activists never thought we’d see in our lifetimes, from gay marriage to open military service to anti-bullying statutes in schools. While such hard-won steps have of course been celebrated by most gay men and lesbians, the sudden possibility of full citizenship contrasts starkly with the underground culture of the recent past, when two women risked their lives, jobs, and child custody simply by attending an Alix Dobkin concert. Victory and loss almost come hand in hand, as seen in the news headlines following the June 26, 2015, Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage: the front page of the June 27 New York Times declared “EQUAL DIGNITY,” but beneath the fold was “Historic Day for Gay Rights, but a Twinge of Loss for Gay Culture.” Jodi Kantor’s front-page analysis quoted filmmaker John Waters’s commencement speech at the Rhode Island School of Design: “Refuse to isolate yourself. Separatism is for losers. … Gay is not enough anymore.” It’s important to distinguish between false nostalgia for actual and brutal inequality, and nostalgia for creative ways we risked being out and proud in homophobic society. Our olden days are marked by the inevitable separatism that stemmed from being unable to vacation as a lesbian couple anywhere but at a lesbian festival or lesbian-owned bed and breakfast; from being unable to find books on lesbian lives and history anywhere but on the shelves of an independently run feminist bookstore. Shut out of mainstream institutions, we formed our own. There are obvious benefits that come with full legal protection—health coverage for one’s partner, school libraries that include books like Heather Has Two Mommies—but how best to honor those independent lesbian institutions that served our community in an era lacking any other pride-based services? Once Heather Has Two Mommies landed at Barnes & Noble, lesbian moms no longer had to trek to Lammas Books, my D.C. women’s bookstore, which closed forever. As of this writing, my local Barnes & Noble has also closed. Strangely enough, the same argument made by Michael Hobbes last year in his gorgeous article on "The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness," which focuses squarely on the experiences of gay men with this same trend, was met with acclaim, not teeth gnashing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    KG

    As a young lesbian who never got to be a part of women's culture and mourns it every day, this book was like stepping into another time, one where people like me had community and purpose. Reading about women like me and what we are capable of was salve for my soul. I absolutely loved it. We need more books talking about the value of the lesbian experience specifically. In the book she discusses the three pronged explanation for the degradation of lesbian spaces--financial hardship and gentrific As a young lesbian who never got to be a part of women's culture and mourns it every day, this book was like stepping into another time, one where people like me had community and purpose. Reading about women like me and what we are capable of was salve for my soul. I absolutely loved it. We need more books talking about the value of the lesbian experience specifically. In the book she discusses the three pronged explanation for the degradation of lesbian spaces--financial hardship and gentrification, modern queer/trans politics, and gay assimilation. I liked how she discussed each of these factors at length rather than focusing only on queer politics, as many people tend to. She painted a full picture of what's going on. I am saddened by Morris's lack of optimism about the state of the lesbian community going forward, but I think young people like me are waking up and realizing we need to save our culture, that it is more important than ever. Loved the book, I'd give it 10 stars if I could.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)

    DNF--The introduction and its terfy language was too much for me. It's possible that she spent the rest of the book being non-terfy, but I honestly did not want to waste my time finding out. DNF--The introduction and its terfy language was too much for me. It's possible that she spent the rest of the book being non-terfy, but I honestly did not want to waste my time finding out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    fausto

    Bonnie Morris is simply stuning! The book is the history of the rise and fall of lesbian-feminist culture in the US. Morris is such an incredible scholar of lesbian culture, and in a very readeable way introduces the reader to the history and development of women's music and musical festivals (a theme she fully developed in "Eden Built by Eves"), women's bookstores and presses and the revelance of jewish lesbians in all of that. As other scholars like Sheila Jeffreys had pointed out, lesbian-fem Bonnie Morris is simply stuning! The book is the history of the rise and fall of lesbian-feminist culture in the US. Morris is such an incredible scholar of lesbian culture, and in a very readeable way introduces the reader to the history and development of women's music and musical festivals (a theme she fully developed in "Eden Built by Eves"), women's bookstores and presses and the revelance of jewish lesbians in all of that. As other scholars like Sheila Jeffreys had pointed out, lesbian-feminists created a whole new culture (world?) with--also--women's coffe houses, women's bars, workshops, women's land/communes, lesbian visual art, women´s spirituality (like dianic wicca), lesbian ethics and philosophy, etc, etc, etc. I really, really recommend to read this gem. It can also be accompanied with Myriam Fougerè's documentary "LESBIANA. A Parallel Revolution", Diana Shugar's book "Separatism and Women's Community" and Sheila Jeffrey's book "The Lesbian Heresy"

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    I read this book months ago, but didn’t get around to writing a review. Probably because I was concerned. Reading it, I found myself coming up against the author’s attitude towards trans women. Trans women are women. But Bonnie Morris doesn't believe that. That is not the only problem I had with this book, but it was the issue the kept coming up again and again. It's incredibly irritating, because the overall topic of this book is one of interest to me. Particularly women’s music, the history of I read this book months ago, but didn’t get around to writing a review. Probably because I was concerned. Reading it, I found myself coming up against the author’s attitude towards trans women. Trans women are women. But Bonnie Morris doesn't believe that. That is not the only problem I had with this book, but it was the issue the kept coming up again and again. It's incredibly irritating, because the overall topic of this book is one of interest to me. Particularly women’s music, the history of which I am no stranger to. Though I’m not of that generation, The Changer and the Changed was my first lesbian album! (A fact never mentioned in this book is that this Iconic Lesbian record that only had women listed in its credits was mixed by... Sandy Stone, a trans woman! And that she and Olivia Records were threatened by lesbians to the point where Sandy had to leave!) So the reason I was concerned reading this book was... it was next up in a book club I was new to. I didn’t know how the members (mostly lesbians over 40 years of age) would react to author's view of trans women. The answer is.... Yikes. The day of the meeting, conversation turned to indignation at the author being called a TERF in reviews of this book. Okay, she might not be a TERF, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t exhibit a worrying amount of transmisogynist ideas. I couldn’t bear the conversation that arose at that, and I said my piece about trans women being, well, women. This was met with varying degrees of.... disagreement. But also some interest and, from a blessed few, SUPPORT. That's why I wanted to write this review, because this story does have a happy ending. Me speaking out in book club (despite my great fear) is how I made my first local lesbian friend. Something I’ve wanted for ages. AND I LOVE HER. Those who loved this book seem to think others are focusing too much on the author’s attitude towards trans women, but I don’t think so. Cis lesbian and bi women can’t keep excluding trans women. They’ve always been a part of our community, and we need to get over ourselves and get rid of many ingrained conceptions of what makes a woman.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Basma

    Quite interesting and I'm left wanting to know more especially about Black and PoC spaces and point of views. There was much more focus on the music scene than other scenes/spaces which was fascinating to learn about but as the title mentions; this part of history is not written about a lot and even now the narrative surrounding lesbians is minimal, so finding books like this makes me want more out of it. I do wish though that author spent more time critically discussing the section of trans wom Quite interesting and I'm left wanting to know more especially about Black and PoC spaces and point of views. There was much more focus on the music scene than other scenes/spaces which was fascinating to learn about but as the title mentions; this part of history is not written about a lot and even now the narrative surrounding lesbians is minimal, so finding books like this makes me want more out of it. I do wish though that author spent more time critically discussing the section of trans women and separatism within the lesbian community and reflect on whether progress has been made or not. I thought that section in particular ended rather quickly but maybe it's just me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    riese

    I learned so much and would've given it five stars if the author could've refrained from trans misogyny, especially as blaming trans women for the various problems she identifies is just factually incorrect. I want to recommend it to everybody I know but I can't because of that, and that's too bad, because her stories these stories need to be told and heard. There isn't a ton of trans misogyny in here but any is too much in this day and age. Still glad I read it though because it definitely woke I learned so much and would've given it five stars if the author could've refrained from trans misogyny, especially as blaming trans women for the various problems she identifies is just factually incorrect. I want to recommend it to everybody I know but I can't because of that, and that's too bad, because her stories these stories need to be told and heard. There isn't a ton of trans misogyny in here but any is too much in this day and age. Still glad I read it though because it definitely woke something up in me that I hope to hold onto and make use of.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Very mixed feelings about this book. Includes wonderful firsthand accounts of women's music festivals and other lesbian spaces, and interesting points about all the ways that the "L" (lesbian) has been ignored, subsumed, and overwhelmed by other identities. HOWEVER, she blames a mixture of trans people, young people, and essentially "The Internet" for this erasure in ways that read as bigoted at worst and crotchety at best. Unfortunately, this underlying theme cannot be redeemed by stories from Very mixed feelings about this book. Includes wonderful firsthand accounts of women's music festivals and other lesbian spaces, and interesting points about all the ways that the "L" (lesbian) has been ignored, subsumed, and overwhelmed by other identities. HOWEVER, she blames a mixture of trans people, young people, and essentially "The Internet" for this erasure in ways that read as bigoted at worst and crotchety at best. Unfortunately, this underlying theme cannot be redeemed by stories from women's bookstores or music festivals.

  14. 4 out of 5

    T. M. Kuta

    I struggled with this book and how to review it. Educationally, this book was a good read. It was filled with so much good first-hand information, and was fantastic for my research. I learned a lot about many many things I did not know before. It helped give me some insight into the generational divide that plagues the community. That being said, this book sometimes relies *too* much on first hand account; I would liked to have seem more sources cited throughout the text. It seems like the book I struggled with this book and how to review it. Educationally, this book was a good read. It was filled with so much good first-hand information, and was fantastic for my research. I learned a lot about many many things I did not know before. It helped give me some insight into the generational divide that plagues the community. That being said, this book sometimes relies *too* much on first hand account; I would liked to have seem more sources cited throughout the text. It seems like the book struggled on whether or not it wanted to be a primary or secondary source. While educationally, this book was great, some things rubbed me the wrong way personally. There was a lot of millennial blaming and questioning how the younger generation could not know things that a) they were not there to experience and b) do not have ready access to after the fact. Much of the discussion around trans women and their inclusion/exclusion came across as transphobic, and there was such an emphasis on genitalia that it actually made it's way into my notes at one point. The book also contradicts itself and the arguments Morris makes several times, which left me confused as to what the actual point was. So TL;DR: As a lesbian from the ~younger generation~ I disagree with some of the points the author made, but believe it is valuable as a primary/secondary source hybrid. Read at your own discretion.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I'm not sure how a non-lesbian or even a non-LGBT person would read this book, but as a lesbian, particularly as a young lesbian who never experienced the lesbian activism and women's music festivals of the 1970s, I found this book a to be a very engaging and informative read. Not to mention, the writing style is excellent. I would give it five stars, but I find it a bit narrow in its scope and unfortunately at times, it can lean towards painting a negative picture of trans women and feeding int I'm not sure how a non-lesbian or even a non-LGBT person would read this book, but as a lesbian, particularly as a young lesbian who never experienced the lesbian activism and women's music festivals of the 1970s, I found this book a to be a very engaging and informative read. Not to mention, the writing style is excellent. I would give it five stars, but I find it a bit narrow in its scope and unfortunately at times, it can lean towards painting a negative picture of trans women and feeding into the myopic, simplistic narrative of "lesbians v. transwomen," despite some overlap and historic solidarity among these two groups. I also think Morris can be a bit reactionary at times. I certainly see a lot of truth in what she's saying: lesbophobia is very real and despite LGBT progress and advancements, the first letter seems to also be the least represented and the least "cool," if that makes sense. But Morris seems to imply that lesbian culture is on the verge of extinction and that's hardly the case. Lesbians have always existed and will always exist. Words may change over time too, but women who love women exclusively will always be here. Regardless of the flaws, this book is a very significant work of lesbian scholarship. If you're a lesbian and/or interested in lesbian history and culture, this is a must-read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Moyes

    I'm straight and knew basically nothing about any of the lesbian history covered in this book. I enjoyed the content of this book, but not the way it was written. In addition to its many typos, the book couldn't decide what it was trying to be. Some of it was memoir, some of it was scholarly. It felt like Morris grabbed a bunch of disparate topics that she cared about and this, the book lacked cohesion. While I appreciated Morris' perspective, it felt like she made gratuitous digs at millennials. I'm straight and knew basically nothing about any of the lesbian history covered in this book. I enjoyed the content of this book, but not the way it was written. In addition to its many typos, the book couldn't decide what it was trying to be. Some of it was memoir, some of it was scholarly. It felt like Morris grabbed a bunch of disparate topics that she cared about and this, the book lacked cohesion. While I appreciated Morris' perspective, it felt like she made gratuitous digs at millennials. For example, the last paragraph of chapter 1 talks about how the women's music movement has attracted few scholars. The paragraphs ends, "More than a temporary high school musical, this was a high-fidelity broadcast of lesbian existence." The reference to High School Musical has nothing to do with the paragraph and does not even make sense.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    So I thought this was a great book because it is me. I went to those festivals, those bookstores, those bars. It is my lost culture which I have tried to explain to my younger friends. They do not, nor cannot understand and this book does a good job explaining some of the reasons why. Losing one's cultural history is sad. And that doesn't mean I am anti-progress nor anti-grateful. The book explains that unfortunate assumption which others often jump to. But saying, oh look how we have been assim So I thought this was a great book because it is me. I went to those festivals, those bookstores, those bars. It is my lost culture which I have tried to explain to my younger friends. They do not, nor cannot understand and this book does a good job explaining some of the reasons why. Losing one's cultural history is sad. And that doesn't mean I am anti-progress nor anti-grateful. The book explains that unfortunate assumption which others often jump to. But saying, oh look how we have been assimilated, does not mean equal, let alone fair representation nor opportunity for women, let alone lesbians. The interview statement by Holly Near, reproduced on pages 201/202 states in part: "...The sixties was really when things were happening and then the seventies and eighties were dead. And I think that's because women rose to a sense of self-value and appreciation in the seventies and developed a cultural phenomenon that men weren't in the middle of, so they don't think it happened. If they didn't lead it, direct it, own it, profit from it, and control it, they think it didn't exist..."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Keeton

    The Disappearing L is part memoir, part essay, and part historical account of lesbian culture and music in the 1970-1990’s. The book mainly focuses on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for the crux of its argument, which defends lesbian separatism as a means for cultural production, education, and social connection. There is also an entire section which deals exclusively with contributions from Jewish lesbian women. While the book seems to waffle perpetually between primary and secondary source The Disappearing L is part memoir, part essay, and part historical account of lesbian culture and music in the 1970-1990’s. The book mainly focuses on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for the crux of its argument, which defends lesbian separatism as a means for cultural production, education, and social connection. There is also an entire section which deals exclusively with contributions from Jewish lesbian women. While the book seems to waffle perpetually between primary and secondary source, it is part of a larger project to collect and archive specifically lesbian experiences at a critical moment of their erasure. It also tries to empower young lesbians to continue to fight for their voice and history as something unique and distinct in the ‘umbrella’ of LGBT+ narratives.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ceren Altincekic

    A missed opportunity for preserving and retelling this side of the history. Too much lamentation and not enough actual documentation. I am not convinced that L is disappearing. It's probably just the L that the author thinks it's her L that is ebbing. There are a ton of resources and documentations now about how the lesbian culture evolved in the past. And if the author thinks there isn't enough, she is capable to add more to that, instead of just writing about how the L is disappearing. The book A missed opportunity for preserving and retelling this side of the history. Too much lamentation and not enough actual documentation. I am not convinced that L is disappearing. It's probably just the L that the author thinks it's her L that is ebbing. There are a ton of resources and documentations now about how the lesbian culture evolved in the past. And if the author thinks there isn't enough, she is capable to add more to that, instead of just writing about how the L is disappearing. The book left me with and empty sense of 'what did I just read and why?'. There are a lot of tangents to Jewish culture and unrelated segues as well. I thought I was going to learn how the culture has been erased and what we can do about it. Instead, I got lamentations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    An excellent resource book for an overview of lesbian and women's culture and how it is disappearing. As noted in the book, I feel like a Shaker, part of a tribe that I cherish, but is fading away. Unfortunately, the book is not very readable. She obviously know and loves the material and it brought back memories for me. But it lacks editing and a coherent trajectory. An excellent resource book for an overview of lesbian and women's culture and how it is disappearing. As noted in the book, I feel like a Shaker, part of a tribe that I cherish, but is fading away. Unfortunately, the book is not very readable. She obviously know and loves the material and it brought back memories for me. But it lacks editing and a coherent trajectory.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grace Moore

    This book alternatively made me cry, rage, and smile, all while feeding my passion for museum/archival work and feminism. What this book did not do was bore me. I learned so much information that had been left out of all my women's history courses. To anyone with a passion for women's history, please read this. I cannot recommend it enough. This book alternatively made me cry, rage, and smile, all while feeding my passion for museum/archival work and feminism. What this book did not do was bore me. I learned so much information that had been left out of all my women's history courses. To anyone with a passion for women's history, please read this. I cannot recommend it enough.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Moth

    Key history presented, at times, in a less than engaging way. The Disappearing L is somewhere between a historical record and a memoir, and I wish it was either one or the other.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Lynx

    An important topic.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marisa Buller

    L

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wrlccywrlir

    I used to identify as queer. I knew what I was; I had no doubts about my feelings, but to me, "lesbian" sounded like an insult, or something that brought to mind terrible porn for straight men. I used to think that if I could choose my orientation, I wouldn't choose this. But learning the "herstory", in this book and others, has really changed my mind and opened my eyes. I've seen how much I was wrong about and learned a lot and I'm really grateful for all the women like Morris, who put in the e I used to identify as queer. I knew what I was; I had no doubts about my feelings, but to me, "lesbian" sounded like an insult, or something that brought to mind terrible porn for straight men. I used to think that if I could choose my orientation, I wouldn't choose this. But learning the "herstory", in this book and others, has really changed my mind and opened my eyes. I've seen how much I was wrong about and learned a lot and I'm really grateful for all the women like Morris, who put in the effort to write all of this down. I love the journal entries. I just wish I knew what to do, to find a space for myself. It's strange having such a big internet but feeling more lost and alone than the lesbians who came before me. This isn't much of a review, but I'm glad I was able to buy and read this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    I learned so much from this book. It's part history and part memoir. It is a piece of living history, showcasing the former and current state of lesbian culture. As a young lesbian who's never known any thriving real life lesbian community, I'm left hungry for more. This really was a fascinating book. I learned so much from this book. It's part history and part memoir. It is a piece of living history, showcasing the former and current state of lesbian culture. As a young lesbian who's never known any thriving real life lesbian community, I'm left hungry for more. This really was a fascinating book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kay

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Pearce

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

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