Unlike processes to screen out male homosexuals, which had been in place since the creation of the American military, there were no methods to identify or screen for lesbians; they were put into place gradually during World War II. View More From This Series Cultural connotations aside, the main reason my friend and I felt and still feel more comfortable with queer than lesbian was practical: However, by the term "lesbian" had such a negative meaning that the DOB refused to use it as a descriptor, choosing "variant" instead. The increased mobility, sophistication, and independence of many women during and after the war made it possible for women to live without husbands, something that would not have been feasible under different economic and social circumstances, further shaping lesbian networks and environments. In her circles, as in mine, most romantic partnerships lean butch-femme or involve at least one trans or genderqueer person.
Gold Medal Books was overwhelmed with mail from women writing about the subject matter, and followed with more books, creating the genre of lesbian pulp fiction. Butch and femme modes of socialization were so integral within lesbian bars that women who refused to choose between the two would be ignored, or at least unable to date anyone, and butch women becoming romantically involved with other butch women or femmes with other femmes was unacceptable. Of the latter two, the gay rights movement and the feminist movement connected after a violent confrontation occurred in New York City in the Stonewall riots. Because of society's reluctance to admit that lesbians exist, a high degree of certainty is expected before historians or biographers are allowed to use the label. In categorizing behavior that indicated what was referred to as " inversion " by German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld , researchers categorized what was normal sexual behavior for men and women, and therefore to what extent men and women varied from the "perfect male sexual type" and the "perfect female sexual type". Marks discouraged young women from "abnormal" friendships and insisted happiness could only be attained with a man. Speaking of homosexuality in any context was socially forbidden, and women rarely discussed lesbianism even amongst themselves; they referred to openly gay people as "in the Life". Although many municipalities had enacted laws against cross-dressing, some women would socialize in bars as butches: Butler and Ponsonby eloped in , to the relief of Ponsonby's family concerned about their reputation had she run away with a man  to live together in Wales for 51 years and be thought of as eccentrics. Well-intentioned attempts at inclusive language should be applauded, though many will inevitably fall short; and we are not vampires who must be explicitly invited by name to cross the threshold of a nightclub. As a result, pulp fiction helped to proliferate a lesbian identity simultaneously to lesbians and heterosexual readers. Communities of gay men, on the other hand, have largely hewed to a coherent, unifying cultural through-line. A militant feminist organization named Radicalesbians. Bisexuality became chic, particularly in America's first gay neighborhoods. Hermaphroditism appeared in medical literature enough to be considered common knowledge, although cases were rare. In the s and s, however, the roles were pervasive and not limited to North America: In the middle of the 19th century, medical writers attempted to establish ways to identify male homosexuality, which was considered a significant social problem in most Western societies. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum stipulates that this is because women were seen as subordinate to men, and that the Nazi state feared lesbians less than gay men. However, sexologists Richard von Krafft-Ebing from Germany, and Britain's Havelock Ellis wrote some of the earliest and more enduring categorizations of female same-sex attraction , approaching it as a form of insanity Ellis' categorization of "lesbianism" as a medical problem is now discredited. Catharine Linck and other women who were accused of using dildos, such as two nuns in 16th century Spain executed for using "material instruments", were punished more severely than those who did not. Community meeting places consisted of bars that were commonly raided by police once a month on average, with those arrested exposed in newspapers. Most women in the U. Some of it was written in code, detailing her sexual relationships with Marianna Belcombe and Maria Barlow. She was brought up as a male and there was speculation at the time that she was a hermaphrodite. When they decided to make it a regular meeting, they became the first organization for lesbians in the U. This is almost impossible to find.
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