“Some modern lesbian philosophers, such as Marilyn Frye, have lamented the lack of a lesbian sexual language and the paucity of lesbian sexual codes and rituals. I have always been struck by the ahistorical quality of this yearning for a public lesbian sexual self, since lesbian life in America from at least the thirties through the sixties was organised around a highly developed sense of sexual ceremony and dialogue. Indeed, because of the surrounding oppression, ritual and code were often all we had to make public erotic connections. Dress, stance, gestures, even jewelry and hairstyles had to carry the weight of sexual communications. The pink ring flashing in a subway car, the DA haircut combed more severely in front of a mirror always made me catch my breath, symbolising as they did a butch woman announcing her erotic competence. A language of courtship and seduction was carefully crafted to allow for expression of both lust and love in the face of severe social repression. ”

Joan Nestle, “Flamboyance and Fortitude: An Introduction”
The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader, 1992


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