Lincoln Legion of Lesbians

Lincoln Legion of Lesbians (LLL) was a lesbian feministcollective in Lincoln, Nebraska, that sought to destigmatize lesbianism and build lesbian community. The collective sponsored community events open exclusively to women and girls, advocating feminist separatism.

Lincoln Legion of Lesbians

Symbol used by Lincoln Legion of Lesbians
Formation 1976
Founder Julia Penelope
Dissolved circa 1991
Purpose reduce homophobia and promote lesbian community
Headquarters Lincoln, Nebraska
Publication Lesbian Community News

The collective is notable for initiating the first attempt to outlaw anti-gay discrimination in Nebraska in 1980. A fierce local backlash to this attempt expanded into a nationwide strategy of anti-LGBT rhetoric using pseudoscientific arguments.

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The Lincoln Legion of Lesbians was organized by University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) scholar Julia Penelope in 1976, according to LLL member[1]Sarah Lucia Hoagland.[2] Same-sex sexual activity was illegal in the state until 1978,[3] and the LLL kept out of the public eye in its early years. Yet it was at the center of “a vibrant lesbian feminist community in Lincoln, Nebraska in the late 1970s.”[4]

LLL newsletter Lesbian Community News says that in a 1979 meeting, the collective chose to emerge as an “up-front” group that would speak openly of lesbian concerns and host public events. Among the founders at this meeting were Julia Penelope, Sinister Wisdom cofounder Harriet Desmoines, and Mother Earth News chief editor Cheryl Long. The group’s first event was a slide show by Tee Corinne called Images of Lesbian Sexuality in Art.[5]

Members of the collective advocated for and practiced feminist separatism, attempting to exclude men from their lives to varying degrees. LLL frequently held events that were for women only or lesbians only. Men who were turned away from women-only LLL events sometimes clashed with LLL collective members in local media. One LLL member observed that separatism was “seen by men as a terrific act of insubordination.”[6]

Local press frequently covered LLL in the early 1980s because of the group’s outspoken advocacy against discrimination and abuse of women. Julia Penelope took joy in her belief that the governor of Nebraska wanted the word “lesbian” to stop appearing on the front pages of Lincoln newspapers.[2]

LLL funded itself by recycling aluminum cans and by selling lesbian erotica to women.[7] LLL disputed with Ms. magazine in the feminist press when the magazine refused to advertise the sale of notecards depicting lesbian sex.[8]

LLL sponsored all-women dances, brought lesbian performers to Lincoln, met with officials on political and legal issues impacting lesbians and women, operated a feminist newsletter, and ran a bookstore.[4] The collective offered social events into the early 1990s.[9]

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