History of Lesbian Movement in Europe

Lesbian* Main Room, 3rd Floor
Summary of the plenary: «History of Lesbian Movement in Europe»
By Katherine O’Donnell

A key measure of oppression is how a group is denied access to thinking of themselves as part of history; as inheritors of tradition; as involved in making communities and cultures that will have an enduring legacy. Lesbians have been marked by the experience of being told that we are a recent phenomenon, that we have made no impact on the world. It is deeply injurious to accept the message that Lesbian lives in the past are not worth considering and it is a remarkable resource to be able to claim a place in history. This panel on Lesbian History is in itself a historic occasion as we have a unique opportunity to hear from four of Europe’s most respected Lesbian activists. They will offer us a survey of their work and engage in discussion with each other on reflect on their experience of building lesbian community and movement since the 1970s.

Lesbian feminists runaways from patriarchy –  before and now!
By Lepa Mladjenovic

Lesbians in Eastern Europe have mostly started to organize after the fall of the Berlin Wall, except for Yugoslavia where feminist groups started in the early 80 ties and first lesbians among them.  The history of lesbian organizing in Yugoslavia and the follow-up countries reflects the ways the fear of miso-ginia and miso-lesbia – hatred against lesbians was transformed in the actions and politics.   The aim was then and is now among many of us the total destruction of patriarchal privileges that opress women and lesbians.  Therefore we lesbians became runaways of patriarchy – those who oppose opressions and in meantime enjoy loving women outside of the patriarchal gaze.

Looking back to early 1980s: newsletters, photos, notebooks
By Eva Isaksson
What was it like in the early 1980s when you were a lesbian activist and suddenly invited to participate in shaping a new international movement? For Helsinki based Finnish women, running the daily routines of International Lesbian Information Service for a couple of years meant lonely nights spent with a photocopier and long train journeys to conferences where you would meet some of the most remarkable lesbian activists of that time. We were from very diverse backgrounds and impatient to see our visions to be shaped into action. Were we prepared? Did we have the resources, the vision, the know-how?

A voice of our own
First steps on the international platform
By Evien Tjabbes

Between Xmas 80 and New Year 81 the first lesbian conference took place in Amsterdam. This ILIS conference was the start of a series of international meetings where lesbians met, coordinated our struggles and built bridges, both politically and personally. From then on we organised together, discussed our strategies, exchanged ideas, learned from & with each other and coordinated some of our actions. Over time we discovered how to be effective and avoid pitfalls. There were struggles and lessons to be learned from our similarities and differences at the same time as we were building bridges. These included many different subjects such as language, culture, policies/strategies, background/herstory and ideologies.

Hidden history
By Lonneke van den Hoonaard

Super quick overview of the history of lesbian archiving. Lesbian Archives in the Netherlands. The need of keeping our history, organise save places and collect our voices.

Lesbians* ACT