March 30th, 1973: Jill Johnston’s book of essays Lesbian Nation is published which calls for a lesbian movement separate from the gay rights movement.
A writer for The Village Voice Johnston is one of the first leaders of the lesbian separatist movement of the 1970s.
Johnston was a member of a 1971 New York City panel produced by Shirley Broughton as part of the “Theater for Ideas” series. The event was a vigorous debate on feminism with Norman Mailer, author; Germaine Greer, author; Diana Trilling, literary critic; and Jacqueline Ceballos, National Organization for Women president. The event was a showdown of intellect and personality. While Johnston read a poem culminating in on-stage lesbian sex (fully dressed) followed by a quick exit, Greer and Mailer continued to exchange verbal blows with each other and the audience for the rest of the 3½ hour event.
In 1973, she predicted “an end to the catastrophic brotherhood and a return to the former glory and wise equanimity of the matriarchies.” As recorded in Lesbian Nation, Johnston often was at the center of controversies within the feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970.
In Lesbian Nation Jill Johnston discusses lesbian invisibility and advocated a political lesbianism that would bring women together to support one another and have power as a group, while becoming independent of men which helped fractured the “gay rights” movement at that time by separating the two group powers. Johnston believed that all males were the same, even gay males.
“Gay men, however discriminated against, are still patriarchs.” Johnston is quoted as saying.
Still Lesbian Nation is an amazing look back at the feminist and gay rights movement of the late 60’s and early 70. The book itself in a historical aspect should be appreciated as a classic lesbian text, and even with the time difference it offers an insight of the beginning of today’s compartmentalization within the community and echo’s the argument of privilege against gay males today.
Still, as an old-school text, it should be read and appreciated.