Category: wlw

SEPTEMBER 22: Joan Jett (1958-)

365daysoflesbians:

Happy birthday to Joan Jett, who
turns 59 today! Although she has yet to label herself as either lesbian or
bisexual, the rock ‘n’ roll legend has also been an incredibly influential wlw
figure in music and mainstream culture for many years.

Joan Jett flipping off photographer Neil Zlozower while on tour in 1977 (x). 

Joan Marie Larkin was born on
September 22, 1958 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. She was the oldest of three
children born to a father who sold insurance and a mother who worked as a secretary.
In 1967, the family moved from Pennsylvania to Rockville, Maryland where Joan
attended Wheaton High School. She was gifted her first guitar when she was
14-years-old and tried to take lessons, but quit after the instructor kept
trying to teach her folk songs. When the family moved once again to West
Covina, California, the close proximity to Los Angeles allowed Joan to be that
much closer to the world of music and glam rock that she was so attracted to.

Joan on stage at a Burgettstown, Pennsylvania concert on September 1, 2017 (x). 

As a teenager, she co-founded the
band The Runaways. Joan was the band’s rhythm guitarist, secondary singer, and
co-writer for their songs. Along with Sandy West. Jackie Fox, Lita Ford and
Cherie Currie, The Runaways recorded a total of 5 albums before splitting up.
Their break out song, “Cherry Bomb,” is still a rebellious girl anthem to this
day. By 1979, Joan had struck out on her own and began pursuing a solo career.
As a solo artist, she released the classic banger “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” but
soon teamed up with The Blackhearts to form the band Joan Jett and the
Blackhearts. In the 1990s, Joan faded from the spotlight and took on a
producing role. However, she remained in the hearts of women musicians and as
the Riot Grrl movement started up, she was dubbed the “original Riot Grrl” and
the “godmother of punk.”

In recent times, Joan has become a
politically charged figure who has advocated against war and intensive animal farming;
she is an outspoken feminist, vegan, and on the topic of her sexuality, she has
said: “I’m not saying no, I’m not saying yes, I’m saying believe what you want.
Assume away—go ahead.”

-LC

SEPTEMBER 6: Jane Addams (1860-1935)

365daysoflesbians:

Reformer, sociologist, and the woman considered to be the “mother of social work,” Jane Addams, was born on this day in 1860. Although it is
excluded from most history classrooms around the country, Jane exclusively had
relationships with women and could, today, be called a lesbian figure.

In 1932, Jane co-won the Nobel Peace Prize along with her Hull House partner and former romantic partner, Ellen Starr (x). 

Born on September 6, 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois, Jane was
the youngest of 8 children. When she was 4-years-old, she contracted tuberculosis
of the spine, which was then called Potts Disease, and it resulted in a curvature
of the spine and various health problems that would follow her for the rest of
her life. Inspired by the Charles Dickens novels she read as a child and having
witnessed her father’s own political career as an Illinois State Senator and
founder of the state’s Republican Party, Jane took an interest in helping the
poor from an early age. After her plans of becoming a doctor fell through, she
turned her aim to labor reform and helping the urban poor – most notably, she became fixated on the idea
of opening a settlement house.

In 1889, along with her partner and fellow social activist, Ellen
Starr, Jane opened Hull House – a settlement house in Chicago devoted to the
housing, education, and care of the city’s poor immigrant women. By 1912, Hull
House had grown into a complex of over 13 buildings and was a hub of immigrant community
and social work observation and training. A hallmark of the Progressive Era and
the catalyst of an entire American “settlement house movement,” Jane herself
was able to build a career off of Hull House. She was a writer, a teacher, a
notable suffragist, and a dedicated sociologist who dedicated her life to building
on Hull House’s services.

Jane with the woman she considered to be her wife, Mary Rozet Smith, ca. 1923-1930. In a letter to Mary, Jane refers to them as such by writing, “There is reason in the habit of married folks keeping together” (x).

Jane met her first partner, Ellen Starr, while both women
were attending Rockford Female Seminary. Although both women founded and lived
together in Hull House for many years, the romance eventually fizzled out into a simple business partnership. The
arguable love of Jane’s life was Mary Rozet Smith, who was a wealthy socialite
and had met Jane through her philanthropic work with Hull House. They would
eventually live together in a house in Chicago and even own a summer home in Bar Harbor,
Maine. When apart, the two wrote letters to each other at least once a day, and in the letters, Jane and Mary refer to each other as “My Ever Dear”
and “My Darling.” In one, Jane writes, “I miss you dreadfully and am yours ‘til
death.” They stayed together until Mary’s death in 1934. Jane would follow suit
a year later in 1935.

-LC

SEPTEMBER 5: All Cheerleaders Die is released …

365daysoflesbians:

Looking for a corny, gay horror movie to start you Halloween
season off early? The recent remake of the 2001 film All
Cheerleaders Die
, which was premiered at the Toronto International
Film Festival on this day in 2013, is exactly what you’ve been searching for.

Like Jennifer’s Body
before it, All Cheerleaders Die
is not exactly a lesbian cinematic classic, but we the wlw community have claimed it for our own anyways. Played by Caitlin Stasy, the story follows a young girl
named Maddie who is making a documentary about high school hierarchy. Her favorite
subject to follow around is head cheerleader and prettiest girl in the school,
Alexis, but what you might think is going to be your standard loner pines after
the Queen Bee type situation is quickly halted when Alexis is killed in a
cheerleading stunt gone wrong. With the first death of the movie down, what
follows is more death, witchcraft, a zombie-like resurrection, and a singular
sex scene between Maddie and cheerleader Tracy that makes the whole thing
worthwhile.

With a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, All Cheerleaders Die has its merits. In a genre entirely
centered on male audiences, the movie refreshingly focuses on an all-female cast
of characters and refuses to play the sex scene between Maddie and Tracy as nothing
more than fetishistic eye-candy as one might expect. With so little LGBT
representation t in the horror genre at all, All Cheerleaders Must Die is a fun, honest push in the right direction.

-LC

SEPTEMBER 4: Xena: Warrior Princess premieres …

365daysoflesbians:

On this day in 1995, the very first episode of Xena: Warrior Princess aired on NBC.
Although the series had no explicit LGBT characters, the lesbian-coding of its
titular character and her gal pal Gabrielle made the show a cult lesbian
classic throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Although dated to today’s audience, Xena: Warrior Princess was a progressive show of storytelling and special effects for its time (x).

Set in a fantasy-eqsue Ancient Greece, Xena: Warrior Princess follows the story of Xena, an Amazon warrior
played by Lucy Lawless, as she travels the globe and defends the innocent along
with her right-hand woman and farm girl turned fighter, Gabrielle, played by
Renee O’Connor. Although the show was a spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journey in which the character of Xena was
depicted as a villain, Xena: Warrior Princess
flipped the script and portrayed Xena as a hero on her path of redemption and
eventually surpassed its predecessor in both ratings and popularity. During its
second season, it was the top rated syndicated drama series on American
television and remained in the top 5 for the rest of the show’s lifespan.

In what would now be deemed as “queerbaiting” of the highest
order, lesbian viewers of Xena: Warrior
Princess
were continually teased by jokes and innuendos in the show about
the true nature of Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship. In the media landscape of
2017 where LGBT audiences have somewhat of an array of media to choose from,
such obvious disregard for lesbian viewers might have tanked the series, but in
1995, it what was catapulted it to cult classic status. Xena became a culturally significant moment in lesbian history. In
a hilarious attempt to slyly target lesbian customers, the car company Subaru even released
advertisements in the mid-1990s that showed cars with license plates that read “XENA
LVR,” and an LGBT rights group was formed that called themselves The
Marching Xenas. 

Although the promised reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess in which Xena and Gabrielle were to be
canonically a couple was recently cancelled by NBC, nothing can erase the
original show’s cultural impact and the lesbian audience that propelled it forward.
In 2006, the Xena costume was donated to the National Museum of American
History, and perhaps even more satisfying, in 2003, Lucy Lawless herself gave an
interview in which she answered speculation about Xena and Gabrielle’s
relationship by saying, “They’re married, man.”

-LC

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