Queering feminism: Women paving the way for change
July 17, 2012 | 5:00 pm
(Updated: February 26, 2013 | 5:23 pm)
The feminist movement would never have been what is has without the engagement of queer and lesbian women, said Elisabeth Long, of Denver.
“In my eyes, lesbians and bi and queer women and transgender variant folks are at the forefront – and always have been – of the most creative and revolutionary queer and feminist activism,” Long said. “Despite a lack of recognition and attention, they – we – have always been here, getting shit done behind the scenes, at home, in bed, at the office, in the community and on the streets.”
Long is a feminist activist who has been involved in creating awareness and advocating for the rights of queer feminists along with her work in police accountability, farm worker justice, human trafficking as well as prisoner rights and education. Long began her feminist activism at the University of Missouri’s Women Center in 2005. After she moved to Colorado, she threw herself into creating and organizing feminist potlucks and got involved with human rights’ organizations, as a volunteer and outreach activist to help bring awareness to feminist consciousness.
She is currently the case coordinator for the Denver Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee.
It’s only recently, though, that such women have gotten more prominent visibility and recognition. Women’s liberation was known through such figures as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan – author of The Feminine Mystique in which Friedan challenged gender in employment and gender roles in day-to-day life.
Meanwhile those we think of as pioneers of the gay movement – Frank Kameny, The Mattachine Society’s founder Harry Hay, and most of all, San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk who are famous for their work in pioneering the LGBT movement – lived and worked in a separate sphere.
But since the 1990s, feminist activism has taken on new faces, led in many cases by trans, queer, lesbian and bi women whose diversity and awareness of intersecting issues of race and class have created a more holistic and cooperative movement. Women across the world continue to protest, demand change and create new revolutionary thought, and now, more than ever, all players are welcome.
Perhaps one of the most influential figures in recent feminism is Rebecca Walker, a black bisexual feminist who founded the Third-Wave Foundation and is often credited with coining the term “Third Wave” feminism with her 1992 piece in Ms. Magazine, “Becoming the Third Wave.”