The babe den
A Visual and Historic Memoir of the Woman Identified Woman
The Babe Den is a portfolio of images documenting identity and the representation of women as witnessed from the early days of the gay rights movement. In 1969 my studio became a popular and artistically collaborative meeting place for my friends to explore our femaleness in a safe, private space. There was a determination to break taboos and introduce new images of women that would question the mass cultural representation of the feminine identity.
Loving women had become more than a sexual choice. It was a deliberate rejection of heterosexuality and the patriarchal world. We argued that the issue of lesbianism was truly the vanguard of women’s liberation. We took the symbol for woman, used in many ways by the emerging women’s movement and reworked it into a proudly joined double symbol of women. Our redefinition of women’s roles through representation took on political meaning when it challenged the distribution of power in society. We were the women who dared to be different, frequenting the trendy local girl bars - Bonnie & Clyde’s (B & C’s), The Duchess, the Cubby Hole, and after hours clubs like ‘The Loft’ - to play pool, socialize and dance. We proudly called ourselves, “Lesbian, Queer, and Dyke.”
There was an optimistic sense of fun that fueled my desire to photograph our scene. We chopped our hair short and developed our own defiant style of dress, wearing T-shirts, overalls, jeans and boots along with tight black leather motorcycle jackets. Androgyny became an idealized definition of gender. By the 1980’s ‘Lesbian Chic’ had emerged as a style, blurring the differences between masculinity and femininity.
More than forty years have passed. I continue to photograph the gender ambiguity of my community.