chapter  2
“I could hardly wait to get back to that bar”: Lesbian Bar Culture in the 1930s and 1940s
Pages 38

Chauncey's masterfully intricate analysis of working-class gay male identity in 1919 and the ways it began to change is a useful starting point for analyzing Buffalo butch, fem, and lesbian identities. In the Newport, Rhode Island homosexual subculture, gender inversion, not sexual behavior, was the determining factor in homosexual identity. Butch and fem identities were significantly different during the 1940s. Butch identity was deeply felt internally, something that marked the person as different, while fem identity was rooted in socializing with and having relationships with gays. The increased pressure as the decade progressed to follow butch-fem roles makes it much more difficult to sort out the basis of lesbian identity for those who came out in the latter part of the decade. Corresponding with the shift in the definition of lesbian toward a basis in attraction to the same sex, fem identity as gay or lesbian became firmer in the 1950s.