Cross-Dressing Dykes, an Eighteenth Century Spectacle

A confession: This article was never meant to be about cross-dressing dykes as an eighteenth century spectacle at all. In fact, it started out as an analysis of the fashion of one cross-dressing dyke of the eighteenth century, Mademoiselle de Raucourt (1756-1815). I will be writing about Raucourt, in all her theatrical, French, lesbian glory,Continue reading “Cross-Dressing Dykes, an Eighteenth Century Spectacle”

From Lavender to Violet: The Lesbian Obsession with Purple

How many times, in the history of lesbian fashion, is purple on the periphery? Within this blog, it crops up repeatedly, an Easter egg for the eagle eyed. There’s the hand-made t-shirts of the Lavender Menace, lavender in colour as well as in lettering, at once an insult and a rebuttal. There’s the bright purpleContinue reading “From Lavender to Violet: The Lesbian Obsession with Purple”

Lesbian Feminist Dress Codes

Today’s article is a reflection on lesbian feminist dress codes. It is not an endorsement of every single lesbian feminist idea or rhetoric, but neither is it a dismissal of the movement as a whole. I’m acknowledging lesbian feminist fashion (or anti-fashion)’s place within a broader lesbian fashion history and asserting that the clothes wornContinue reading “Lesbian Feminist Dress Codes”

Feminism and the Fashioned Lesbian in 1910s Japan

The first issue of Seitō was published in 1911. Named by its founders in reference to the Bluestockings of 18th century England – a group who we might now call ‘proto-feminist’ – the publication was run by women, for women, promoting equal rights for women through literature. It ran for a period of 5 years,Continue reading “Feminism and the Fashioned Lesbian in 1910s Japan”

The Miraculous Masculinity of Gladys Bentley

Gladys Bentley: blues singer, tuxedo wearer and lady lover. In the words of Saidiya Hartman in her book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, “Bentley was abundant flesh, art in motion.”1 In the words of Bentley herself, from 1952 when she had left the stage and all that came with it, “a big, successful star – andContinue reading “The Miraculous Masculinity of Gladys Bentley”

Suffragette Fashion and the Lesbian Threat

The Suffragettes: the name given by the press to the women’s suffrage movement in the UK. Though intended to be derogatory, was claimed and used by the movement itself and organisations such as the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The Suffragettes have, rightly, gone down in history – their actions and campaigns were instrumentalContinue reading “Suffragette Fashion and the Lesbian Threat”

Depicting Sappho: the Creation of the Original Lesbian Look

Sappho – the original lesbian. At least, this is how we within the LGBTQ community think of her today, with the words sapphic and lesbian originating from her name and home island of Lesbos. Yet, her identity and the desires expressed in her poems have been debated for thousands of years. Homophobia, and more specificallyContinue reading “Depicting Sappho: the Creation of the Original Lesbian Look”

Leather Jackets, Army Boots: 1980s Rebel Dyke Fashion

The Rebel Dykes were the forgotten lesbian punks of 1980s London, whose lives have been documented by members of the community in an upcoming film as well as a history project. The term “Rebel Dykes” was made up by the filmmakers, but it encapsulates the ferocity, the difference and the unashamed lesbian-ness of various communities,Continue reading “Leather Jackets, Army Boots: 1980s Rebel Dyke Fashion”

Was the 1920s Monocle Really a Lesbian Symbol?

Lesbians in the interwar period used fashion codes in order to recognise each other and form communities – at least, that’s what it looks like to us, a hundred years later. However, the fashion reality of lesbians in the 1920s and 30s wasn’t quite so black and white. Items such as the monocle seem toContinue reading “Was the 1920s Monocle Really a Lesbian Symbol?”

Mabel Hampton, Lillian Foster, and Mid-Century Black Butch/Femme

Mabel Hampton and Lillian Foster have left a material, tangible legacy in a way that cannot be said of many in the lesbian communities of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. This is especially true when it comes to Black lesbians, and Black butch/femme lesbians (or butch/fem, stud/fem, etc); verbal histories slip away easily, and marginalisedContinue reading “Mabel Hampton, Lillian Foster, and Mid-Century Black Butch/Femme”