LGBT Americans now enjoy the right to marry—but what will we remember about the vibrant cultural spaces that lesbian activists created in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Most are vanishing from the calendar—and from recent memory. The Disappearing L explores the rise and fall of the hugely popular women-only concerts, festivals, bookstores, and support spaces built by and for lesbians in the era of woman-identified activism. Through the stories unfolding in these chapters, anyone unfamiliar with the Michigan festival, Olivia Records, or the women’s bookstores once dotting the urban landscape will gain a better understanding of the era in which artists and activists first dared to celebrate lesbian lives. This book offers the backstory to the culture we are losing to mainstreaming and assimilation. Through interviews with older activists, it also responds to recent attacks on lesbian feminists who are being made to feel that they’ve hit their cultural expiration date.
“The Disappearing L is both an ‘insider’ story and a well-written analysis of a neglected piece of cultural history. Morris delivers convincing arguments about why the lesbian-feminist era was important not only to the individuals who lived it but also to a broader understanding of what has come to be called ‘LGBT’ history. No one could be better positioned to write this book than Morris.” — Lillian Faderman, author of The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle