Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community

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9780415902939: Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community

Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold traces the evolution of the lesbian community in Buffalo, New York from the mid-1930s up to the early 1960s. Drawing upon the oral histories of 45 women, it is the first comprehensive history of a working-class lesbian community. These poignant and complex stories show how black and white working-class lesbians, although living under oppressive circumstances, nevertheless became powerful agents of historical change.
Based on 13 years of research, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold ranges over such topics as sex, relationships, coming out, butch-fem roles, motherhood, aging, racism, work, oppression and pride. Kennedy and Davis provide a unique insider's perspective on butch-fem culture and argue that the roots of gay and lesbian liberation are found specifically in the determined resistance of working-class lesbians.

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy is Professor of American Studies and Women's Studies at SUNY, Buffalo. Madeline D. Davis is Chief Conservator and Head of Preservation for the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System.

Review:

This should be seen as a groundbreaking book a fascinating look at the pre-political support systems, of friendship groups extended to include ex-lovers' families and children that became one of the foundation blocks for building the gay/lesbian communities of our day. -- San Francisco Review of Books
At a time when many lesbian and gay leaders are urging assimilation and moderation, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold recovers a neglected chapter of lesbian and gay history and reminds us of the enduring importance of outlaw roots. -- San Francisco Chronicle-Examiner
. . . the first comprehensive account of a working-class lesbian community. . . -- Ms. Magazine
Conducted over a 13-year period, these interviews contribute a massive amount of original research to the anthology of American culture as well as to lesbian history. -- Library Journal
The book soars on the plain, yet eloquent voices of the women. . . -- Boston Globe
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold honors all of us; Liz Kennedy and Madeline Davis have produced a work that opens up the heart and mind. Their book breaks new ground in women's history, Lesbian history, and the history of desire as a lived force in a community under seige. Most of all, they have put back at the center a group of women, who without money or traditional power, fought for and won a public place where women queers could celebrate their love. -- Joan Nestle, Co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives and Editor of The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
While some of this book is a juicy account of who did what to whom, the heart of Boots of Leather lies in its careful, insightful evaluation of the development of the Buffalo lesbian community through its bars. -- Lambda Book Report
This pioneering history of a working-class lesbian community is doubly marked by its scholarly care and its human compassion. Kennedy and Davis have adhered to the most scrupulous standards of serious historical work, yet at the same time have treated the subjects of their scrutiny with profound delicacy and respect. Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold is one of the finest works yet to emerge in the burgeoning field of gay and lesbian studies. -- Martin Duberman, Distinguished Professor of History, CUNY Graduate `chool, and Director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies
Rarely does a book break entirely new ground, but this is surely one that does. With love, passion, and empathy, Kennedy and Davis bring to life the history of a working-class lesbian community. A complex, fascinating, and evocative world, it has much to tell us about gender, sexuality, class, and urban life. Above all, this is a story about the triumph of the human spirit over horrible adversity. The voices of these women sing on every page. -- John D'Emilio, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold incorporates both academic values of sound scholarship and the lesbian community's need for roots and for affirmation of our identity as woman-loving women. -- The Empty Chest
This very first community study of lesbians will radically advance the state of knowledge in gay and lesbian studies. Nuanced, lovingly researched and provocative, both the description and the argument are food for thinkingpeople. -- Esther Newton, State University of New York at Purchase and author of Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America's First Gay and Lesbian Town
...Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy's and Madeline D. Davis's history of the lesbian working-class cummunity in Buffalo. Drawing on oral history as well as records, the authors have represented a microcosmic study of a fascinating and vital community. The importance of class and race and the techniques of survival in the face of oppression marked the historical experience of these women. Kennedy and Davis have written about the specific local development of a consciousness of a kind that is required for a liberation movement and that they show existed before Stonewall in Buffalo. -- The Los Angeles Times

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