"We had never held hands out in public, but before they put her in the ambulance, I kissed her on the forehead and whispered that I loved her."
When interviewed for the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project (OLOHP), Jean, born in 1927, talked about losing Bobbie. The day she was put into that ambulance was the first time Jean had ever had the courage to publically show affection to Bobbie. They’d been together for more than 35 years, living in rural Texas.
Although many things have changed for lesbians now, it is essential that we remember and honor the lives of the women who came before us, living during a time when there were no books or magazines and no organizations, when being homosexual was classified as a disease for which you might be institutionalized, when simply dancing at a bar with another woman might land you in jail.
The OLOHP has devotedly worked to interview lesbians 70 and older to document their life stories. The Projects goal is to gather and preserve these women’s stories, making sure they are told in these women’s own words. The Project has interviewed women born as early as 1916, and women as old as 96 when they shared about their lives. The Project gathers stories nationwide and includes more than 70 from lesbians living in the Pacific Northwest.
Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project presentations not only tell you about the Project and how it works, but includes live readings of excerpts taken from their collection of 600+ interviews. Some of the readers are old lesbians themselves and others are volunteers invited to participate.
Sponsored by: PSARA (Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action) Education Fund and the co-sponsors so far are Whidbey Institute, Whidbey Giving Circle, Hedgebrook, and Puget Sound Old Lesbians Organizing for Change.