ABSTRACT

The lesbians and bisexual women who helped form the women's liberation vanguard were led to feminism because they were already engaged in left politics, pushing against fixed boundaries of class, race, and sexuality. In the early stages of feminist movement we used the phrase woman-identified woman or man-identified woman to distinguish between those activists who did not choose lesbianism. But who did choose to be woman-identified, meaning their ontological existence did not depend on male affirmation. Our freedom as women to choose who we love, who we will share our bodies and lives with, has been deeply enhanced by the struggles of radical lesbian women both on behalf of gay rights and women's rights. The utopian notion that feminism would be the theory and lesbianism the practice was continually disrupted by the reality. That most lesbians living in white supremacist capitalist patriarchal culture constructed partnerships using the same paradigms of domination and submission as did their heterosexual counterparts.