Women's Liberation Movement
The Women's Liberation Movement, or Women's Movement, or feminism, is very closely linked with many lesbians' lives, particularly those coming to recognise or define themselves as lesbian during the 1970s and 1980s.
There are so many contributions and memories related to this, that a number of linked topics are identified, see below.
Women's Groups and Women's Centre
Lesbians played a significant role in many of the various women's groups in Birmingham during this period. See Women's Groups and Women's Centre.
Women's Liberation Conference
The 1978 National Women's Liberation Conference was held in Birmingham and organised by local women including some of our contributors. This conference, the last, is widely recognised as a pivotal point in British feminism, when it became clear that it was no longer possible to hold together a unified Women's Liberation Movement.
The 'sixth demand' of the Women's Liberation Movement, 'an end to discrimination against lesbians' was redefined at this conference.
During the emergence of both feminist politics and gay politics in the late sixties and seventies, many lesbians chose to fight for their rights within the context of women’s liberation, rather than gay liberation, believing that they had a stronger bond with the shared oppression of heterosexual women, than with gay men. Ref: Lesbian rights
Working with men
Other lesbians chose to fight for women's equality by continuing to work alongside men within mixed political structures including the Labour Party, the Communist Party, the Trade Union Movement.
Many women 'came out' as lesbian (ref:Coming Out) as a result of being part of the women's movement, and becoming more aware of their sexuality and options open to them. For others, it was just easier to come out within a supportive group of women.
For others, the development of revolutionary feminist theory led to the proposition that rejecting men sexually and becoming a lesbian was a political choice. Ref: Revolutionary Feminists, political lesbians and separatism.
Given a combination of the restricted access to the existing male dominated gay bars and a preference to meet and socialise in a women-only space, in the 70s right through to the 90s, lesbians organised both ad hoc events and regular venues to provide a women-only space for socialising. See women's venues and women's access to bars.