Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold traces the evolution of the lesbian community in Buffalo, New York from the mid-1930s up to the early 1960s. Drawing upon the oral histories of 45 women, it is the first comprehensive history of a working-class lesbian community. These poignant and complex stories show how black and white working-class lesbians, although living under oppressive circumstances, nevertheless became powerful agents of historical change. Kennedy and Davis provide a unique insider's perspective on butch-fem culture and argue that the roots of gay and lesbian liberation are found specifically in the determined resistance of working-class lesbians.
This 20th anniversary edition republishes the book for a new generation of readers. It includes a new preface in which the authors reflect on where the last 20 years have taken them. For anyone interested in lesbian life during the 1940s and 1950s, or in the dynamics of butch-fem culture, this study remains the one that set the highest standard for all oral histories and ethnographies of lesbian communities anywhere.
Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy is Professor Emeritus of Gender and of Women's Studies and English at the University of Arizona, and a pioneer in the field of lesbian history. Madeline D. Davis is a noted gay rights activist and the founder of the Madeline Davis Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Archives of Western New York.
Preface to the 20th Anniversary Edition Acknowledgments Preface 1. "To cover up the truth would be a waste of time" : Introduction 2. "I could hardly wait to get back to that bar" : Lesbian Bar Culture in the 1930s and 1940s 3. " A weekend wasn't a weekend if there wasn't a fight": The Tough Bar Lesbians of the 1950s 4. "Maybe 'cause things were harder...you had to be more friendly" : Race and Class in teh Lesbian Community of the 1950s 5. "We're going to be legends, just like Columbus is": The Butch-Fem Image and the Lesbian Fight for Public Space 6. "Now you get this spot right here": Butch-Fem Sexuality during the 1940s and 1950s 7. "Nothing is forever" : Serial Monogamy in the Lesbian Community of the 1940s and 1950s 8. "It can't be a one-way street": Committed Butch-Fem Relationships 9. "In everybody's life there has to be a gym teacher": The Formation of Lesbian Identities and the Reproduction of Butch-Fem Roles 10. Conclusion Notes General Index Index of Narrators