Barbara J. Love
|Known for||Lesbian rights activist, author and editor|
Barbara Love, also known as Barbara J. Love, (born 1937) is an American feminist writer and the editor of Feminists who Changed America, 1963-1975. The Veteran Feminists of America said of Love, "If Second Wave activists were graded according to their contributions, Barbara Love would be in the top ten."
Love is a lesbian activist, writer and editor. With the National Organization for Women, Love organized and participated in demonstrations, such as the demonstration against The New York Times which resulted in the integration of the want ads which helped support improvements towards equal pay for equal work. She also worked within the organization to improve the acceptance of lesbian feminists within the organization. She helped to found consciousness-raising groups for lesbian feminists and was active in the gay liberation movement. Her mother supported her at gay rights and gay pride marches.
With her lover and fellow feminist, Sidney Abbott, she co-authored the classic book Sappho was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism that she would hope would lead to greater awareness of society oppression of women and lesbians. She helped in the presentation to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) which led to the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Barbara J. Love was born in 1937 and grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Her Danish father was a hosiery manufacturer. The king of Denmark decorated him for his role during the war as an underground agent. He also worked for Radio Free Europe. Her mother, Lois Love, whose ancestors were from colonial Massachusetts, was involved in community activities. Love had two brothers.
At 12 years of age competitive swimmer, she was the first person in New Jersey to break the record of the 100 yard freestyle in under a minute.
Love had several potential areas of contention with her parents as a Democratic lesbian feminist. The most significant concern of her "far right" Republican parents was that she was a Democrat. She became isolated from the rest of the family because she had friends who were not Protestants or Country Club members and many were poor. She also "wondered why women had to be in the kitchen while men were in the living room discussing things of world import."
She began having crushes on girls in middle school, but didn't realize she was a lesbian and didn't have anyone to talk to about her feelings. In 1968 she told her mother she was gay. Her response was "First to thine own self be true". Lois Love supported her daughter in gay rights and pride marches and in the founding of the now national Parents of Gays (PFLAG).
Love studied journalism and graduated in 1959 from Syracuse University. During her time there she found that gays could be thrown out of college for their sexuality and that their lives were "sad and often perilous."
After graduation, she taught at an American school in Italy. In 1961, she returned to the United States, and being before the gay movement, gays could be arrested "for whatever reason." She didn't enjoy going to gay bars.
Love became involved in the women's movement and the National Organization for Women (NOW) when there was a small New York chapter and national board. She learned about it while interviewing Long John Nebel; meeting with a NOW founder, Muriel Fox, and talked to the Long Island Press journalist Dolores Alexander who had interviewed Betty Friedan. She was invited to meeting of the chapter's board of directors at Friedan's apartment in the Dakota Building.[nb 1] Aside from Friedan, who she found "harsh and demanding," other activists included Rita Mae Brown and Kate Millett. Barbara helped to organize some of the group's demonstrations and participated in the demonstration against The New York Times, Colgate-Palmolive, and men-only restaurants and hotels. The demonstration against The New York Times called for integration of want ads for men and women. At that time there was a 25% discount for jobs filled by women, which is an equal pay for equal work issue.
Friedan, reflecting the tenor of some other heterosexual members of NOW, stated initially that the presence of lesbians in the organization was damaging to their image. Barbara Love's public response was: "My life had gotten better since I’d joined NOW and even better when I joined the women forging the beginnings of lesbian liberation," which reflected her intention to have lesbianism accepted as a feminist issue within NOW.
She developed the Foremost Women in Communications by compiling the information, editing it, and having it published. She began the work in 1970 having realized the need to create a resource of the women's accomplishments and ability in the communication field.
Feeling unaccepted by the gay and women's movements, Love and other lesbian feminists formed consciousness raising groups and encouraged other lesbians to join. Another coordinator was Sidney Abbott, who became Love's lover and co-author. In the 1970s they were fellow members of Radicalesbians. With Elizabeth Shankin, Love founded the Matriarchists, a radical feminist group. It hosted conferences, held consciousness-raising sessions, wrote position papers, and in the early 1970s published a newspaper entitled Matriarchists.
Love made an appearance on The Phil Donahue Show in 1970 and on PBS' David Susskind Show in 1971, along with six other lesbians, including Lilli Vincenz and Barbara Gittings. They were among the first open lesbians to appear on television in the US, and debated long-held stereotypes about gays with Susskind. A week after her appearance on the David Susskind Show, a middle-aged couple approached Gittings in the supermarket to claim, "You made me realize that you gay people love each other just the way Arnold and I do."
In their essay Is Women's Liberation a Lesbian Plot published in the book Women in a Sexist Society (1971), Sydney Abbott and Love gave their opinion about lesbian's role in the women's liberation movement:
Lesbians are the women who potentially can demonstrate life outside the male power structure that dominates marriage as well as every other aspect of our culture. Thus, the lesbian movement is not only related to women's liberation, it is at the very heart of it.
Regarding the way in which lesbians represented the ultimate liberated women, Love said in 1972:
Lesbians have economic independence, sexual self-determination, that is, control over their bodies and life styles.
That year, at a national NOW conference in California, Arlie Scott led an effort that resulted in NOW passing a resolution asserting that lesbianism is a feminist issue. Friedan endorsed the lesbian rights resolution at the International Women's Year conference in Houston in 1976.
Abbott and Love left Radicalesbians and formed 26 consciousness-raising groups in the late 1970s. Sidney Abbott, Kate Millett, Phyllis Birkby, Alma Routsong, and Artemis March were among the members of CR One, the first lesbian-feminist consciousness-raising group.
There used to be a record in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for homosexuality. Barbara Gittings, Love, and other lesbian and gay people made a presentation in 1971 to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that influenced the December 15, 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM. Two diagnosis remained "ego-dystonic homosexuality" and "sexual disturbance disorder".
Parents of Gays
Love, gay activist Morty Manford, Jeanne Manford and Love's mother founded the Parents of Gays, now the national PFLAG National organization. Barbara Love also co-founded a free walk-in center for gays, Identity House.
Sappho Was a Right-on Woman
Her work as a writer continued; In 1971 she co-authored the first nonfiction book about lesbianism from a positive perspective, Sappho Was a Right-on Woman, with Sidney Abbott. It was also the first to discuss the connection between feminism and lesbianism. They wrote that a goal of the book was that lesbians could live their lives "unconsciously", without the societal stigma placed upon them because of their gender or sexuality. To be "the most ordinary people" required awareness created through the gay liberation and women's liberation movements that would lead to elimination of oppressive behaviors and practices.
Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975
In 1996 she began a project to write biographies of 2,200 second-wave feminists and record the important events from that period, which was published in the book Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975. She was assisted by Veteran Feminist of America (VFA) members. Her book has been the subject of discussion or conferences at VFA and NOW events.
In an interview about the book Barbara Love said:
This book had to be written. The success of the Second Wave of the women's movement was the result of a collective effort by thousands of people. This book aims to recognize the struggles and accomplishments of each individual involved in the movement. It includes the biographies of more than 2200 women (and some men) whose actions effected substantial change for women from 1963—the year of publication for Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique—to 1975.
For living "changemakers", information was gathered via questionnaires and other sources of information. In addition to research, people close to deceased activists were interviewed for information gathering. The book focuses on the contributions of individuals, rather than organizations. Information about each feminists is archived at Smith College's Sophia Smith Collection.
She is on the board of Veteran Feminists of America and has continued to swim competitively into her 70s. For instance, she brought home several gold medals in the senior woman's age group of the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998.
- Feminists who Changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. 2006. ISBN 978-0-252-03189-2.
- Foremost women in communications: a biographical reference work on accomplished women in broadcasting, publishing, advertising, public relations, and allied professions. Foremost Americans Publishing Corporation. 1970. ISBN 978-0-8352-0414-9.
- Sydney Abbott; Barbara Love (1972). "Is Women's Liberation a Lesbian Plot?". Woman in Sexist Society: Studies in Power and Powerlessness. New American Library. ISBN 978-0-465-09199-7.
- Sidney Abbott; Barbara Love (1977). Sappho was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism. Stein and Day. ISBN 978-0-8128-2406-3.
- Barbara Love; Elizabeth Shanklin (1983). "The Answer is Matriarchy". In Joyce Trebilcot (ed.). Mothering: Essays in Feminist Theory. New Jersey: Rowman & Allenheld.
- Her invitation to the NOW chapter meeting included a request to make a chicken recipe given to her by Dolores Alexander. Love said of the request, "I couldn't believe I'd joined the woman's movement to cook!
- "Barbara Love, Feminist of the Month - October 2009". Veteran Feminists of American. October 2009. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- Barbara Seaman; Laura Eldridge (14 February 2012). Voices of the Women's Health Movement. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 978-1-60980-447-3.
- Karla Jay (2000). Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation. Basic Books. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-465-08366-4.
- "Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA" (PDF). Danbury, Connecticut. March 6, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- Karla Jay (2000). Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation. Basic Books. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-465-08366-4.
- Linda Alcoff; Professor Linda Martin Alcoff; Elizabeth Potter (5 September 2013). Feminist Epistemologies. Routledge. pp. 84, 98. ISBN 978-1-134-97657-7.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- John Dececco, Phd; Vern L Bullough (4 February 2014). Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Taylor & Francis. p. 247. ISBN 978-1-317-76627-8.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. xxxii. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- Eric Marcus (2002). Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 170–175.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. xv. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
- Christine Kuenzle (March 22, 2007). "Feminists Who Changed America: 1963-1975.(Book review)". Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources. Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
Accessed via HighBeam Research, a subscription service.
- JoAnne Myers (20 August 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.