By Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy, Madeline D. Davis
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Additional info for Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community
We carefully documented—five chapters worth—that contrary to stereotypes of lesbian bar life as consistently seedy throughout history, 1950s lesbians, building on the tentative group solidarity forged in bars in the 1940s, confidently reached out to newcomers, challenged the double life by going out most nights, announced themselves as lesbians to the public through their appearance, and fought to defend their space. We complicated the analysis by documenting that this was not a homogeneous community—people had multiple identities beyond butch/fem, including lesbian, black, white, rough and tough, and/or upwardly mobile—and that the community was influenced by, and in turn shaped mainstream society.
We particularly want to thank two narrators who have worked tirelessly for the project. Bobbi Prebis was a constant resource throughout the thirteen years of the research. She was always thinking about people we needed to interview and how we could meet them, as well as serving as an advisor on fine points of community life. Terry Morone read the manuscript at two different stages, offering us detailed feedback on both versions. We sorrowfully acknowledge the death of four narrators before the publication of this book.
A second area of scholarship that complicates and enriches our analyses in Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold is that which links gay and lesbian culture to commercial culture and urban economic development. 17 It is likely that with further research, a similar analysis could be made for Buffalo. In the 1930s, lesbians commonly socialized in entertainment clubs in the Black section of Buffalo. There is also evidence that one of the popular gay bars in the 1940s was connected to a prostitution ring, and that gay/lesbian bars were able to stay open because of a system of police pay-offs.