A Rare Look at the Radical Lesbian Movement of the 1970s

Donna Gottschalk doesn’t consider herself a photojournalist or a documentarian photographer, but the photos she’s taken since the age of 17 provide some of the most complete insight into a part of the 1970s and ‘80s that’s often overlooked: the birth and growth of the radical lesbian movement in the U.S., whose foremost activists were then rejected even by those fervently advocating for women’s and gay rights. (The Gay Liberation Front, for example, had a tendency to focus on gay men, rather than gay women, and the then-president of the National Organization for Women, Betty Friedan, made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with lesbians by declaring them to be a "lavender menace" to the women's rights movement.) So, Gottschalk and her peers took things into their own hands and formed their own communities and collectives like the Radicalesbians, predominantly in California and Gottschalk's native New York. The five decades worth of photos that make up her personal archives , though, are far from limited to the coasts; made public for the first time, the black-and-white portraits on view through March 2019 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, in the exhibition "Brave, Beautiful Outlaws," stretch from the beaches of Provincetown to a bare-bones bedroom in Limerick, Pennsylvania, decorated solely with a poster that reads "LESBIANS UNITE!" Take a look, here.

Donna Gottschalk, Self-portrait in Maine, 1976. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Sleepers, Limerick, Pennsylvania, 1970. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Mary, Marin Headlands, 1972. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Donna and Joan, E. 9th St., 1970. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Alfie, Age 16, Marin Headlands, 1972. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Chris Jimenez and Their Dog, Queens, 1969. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Katz in the big chair, San Francisco, 1972. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Katz in the Big Chair, San Francisco, 1972. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Joan on Sofa with Hands Under Afghan, 1970. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Self Portrait with Striped Wall Paper, New York, 2018. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Alfie in Mary's Dress Age 16, 1974. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Marlene, New York, 1969. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Helaine on Her Girlfriend's Lap, Provincetown, 1974. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

Donna Gottschalk, Marlene Resting with a Beer, Oregon, 1974. Featured in the exhibition “Donna Gottschalk: Brave, Beautiful Outlaws,” on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York through March 2019.

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