chapter  10
Pages 17

Boots o f Leather, Slippers o f Gold traces the roots of gay and lesbian liberation to the resistance culture of working-class lesbians. Butch-fem roles coalesced an entire culture into the prepolitical, but none the less active, struggle against gay and lesbian oppression. Working-class lesbians had a key role in shaping their history, transforming their social life, sexual expression, relationships, and identity. To­ gether these changes created the consciousness of kind necessary for the boldness that was to characterize gay liberation. The civil-rights, women’s, and antiwar movements did not generate gay liberation, but rather served as a catalyst to bring together and transform two different political tendencies already existing within the working-class lesbian community. On the one hand, the homophile movement, which was relatively small in number, used accommodationist strategies in order to develop dialogues with the straight world, thereby supporting lesbians’ entrance into the political arena. On the other hand, the tough bar lesbians, who were many in number and came from various racial/ethnic groups, refused to deny their difference, and used confrontational tactics to deal with the heterosexual world.