Epic Gallery: 150 Years Of Lesbians And Other Lady-Loving-Ladies

click here for more posts from “the herstory issue” // “the way we were”

I really threw myself into Herstory Month, in June, eating every accessible herstory archive on the internet and spending hours in the library, accumulating massive stacks of borrowed books which I stored at the foot of my bed. My girlfriend was not a big fan of the stacks of books at the foot of the bed.

I was looking for words but eventually, also, for pictures. Honestly before tumblr it was difficult to find very much lesbian imagery at all online — it was always the same ten or twelve stock photos — let alone pictures of lesbians taken prior to 2000. I wanted to see an evolution of our community, how we’d grown and changed over the years — and not just in a montage of famous out actresses and models, but pictures of actual people, pictures of women who were active in the community — regular human beings, writers and social activists.

So I started collecting them. I scoured tumblr, discovered regional library archives online and visited websites like fuck yeah queer vintage, the new york public library digital archivesout history, and know homo. Unsatisfied with the racial diversity present in the imagery I found online, I began scanning books, screenshotting google books and even screenshotting documentaries. It took months, but every time I look at this post and the faces after faces of queer women throughout history… I get really excited!

Four quick disclaimers: 1) Obviously it’s impossible to verify the sexual orientation of some of the subjects of earlier photos I found on tumblr, the pre-1920s photos especially. But because I found them on vintage queer tumblrs, etc., I went ahead and used them, but some of these photos may just be of cross-dressers or super-close friends. 2) Obviously it’s also difficult to find photos of women of color prior to the 1950’s, because America sucks. 3) I focused on America because doing the entire world is really hard/impossible. It’s possible pics from Canada or The UK [ETA: or France, apparently!] found their way in here, though. 4)I’ve tried to credit where I found these photos and who took them. Unfortunately, because I’m an idiot, I erased the text-edit document where I was keeping track of photo credits. If you see anything here that is improperly credited or if you can identify the origin of any photos that weren’t credited at all, please email me and let me know! (riese [at] autostraddle dot com).

I’d also like to thank the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco for their permission using photos from their collection here.

150 Years of Lady-Loving-Ladies In The U.S.


Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays


sculptor Edmonia “Wildfire” Lewis

Kitty Ely class of 1887 (left) and Helen Emory class of 1889, Mount Holyoke students, via vintagephoto.livejournal.com


photo by alice austen

via flickr.com/photos/sshreeves

Two women, 1899, via fyeahqueervintage.tumblr.com

via chloeandolivia.wordpress.com


Young couple seated in garden from the Powerhouse Museum Collection, via hersaturnreturns.com

1900, Anna Moor and Elsie Dale

Lily Elise and Adrienne Augarde 1907, via fyeahqueervintage.tumblr.com


Photo from silent film The Amazons (1917) via knowhomo.tumblr.com

via “Gay & Lesbian Richmond” (Adele Clark, bottom center, lived with fellow suffragist Nora Houston “as companions” for years)

Four couples of women pose for a photo, ca. 1910 — Image by © DaZo Vintage Stock Photos/Images.com/Corbis

Education reformer Elizabeth Irwin via historyisqueer.tumblr.com



photo by Dorothy Schmitz via “Gay & Lesbian Atlanta”

Thelma Wood and Djuna Barnes

via flickr.com/photos/peopleofplatt

1921, Chicago, via fyeahqueervintage.tumblr.com


via vintage affectionate women pool on flickr

1930s Paris, photographed by Brassai. The photographs were part of a series for his 1933 book “Paris By Night,” which focused on working-class dance halls known as bals-musettes.

via bilerico.com

American blues singer Gladys Bentley (1907 – 1960) poses with bandleader Willie Bryant (1908 – 1964) outside the Apollo Theater where posters advertise a performance by Bryant & his band, New York, New York, April 17, 1936. (Photo by Frank Driggs Collection/Getty IMages)


couple in 1946, photograph by weegee, via museum.icp.org

“San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
P82-125a.6000 Training school, Bethlehem Shipbuilding, 10/14/43″

1940’s “louise” via flickr.com/photos/missing_linck

“Evelyn “Jackie” Bross (left) and Catherine Barscz (right) at the Racine Avenue Police Station, Chicago, June 5, 1943. They had been arrested for violating the cross-dressing ordinance.” via blog.chicagohistory.org

Betty “Joe” Carstairs via butch-in-progress.tumblr.com

1940s Wrens, via theinkbrain.wordpress.com

Estelle de Willoughby Ions with a YWCA Art Student, 1954, via “Gay & Lesbian Richmond”

via Wide Open Town: A History of Queer SF to 1965, by Nan Alamilla Boyd, courtesy of Mary Sager

Mabel Hampton and Lillian Foster

1945, Male impersonators posing at Mona’s, via Wide Open Town History Project Records Courtesy of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.


Keannie Sullivan & Tommy Vasu at Mona’s, via foundsf.org

“1950’s gay and lesbian couples” via flickr.com/photos/missing_linck

Founders of The Daughters of Bilitis with friends at Juanita’s in Sausalito. photo by Miss Cecil Davis, courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society

Bonita Jeffries, standing, with her daughter Ira and Ira’s girlfriend Snowbaby (17), celebrating Ira’s 16th birthday “at a nite club.



guests at the bar of the chez moune nightclub (the longest-running lesbian club in Paris), via fuckyeahqueerpomps.tumblr.com

1967, Joan C Meyers via “Gay & Lesbian Philadelphia”

“Two Friends At Home” by Diane Arbus, 1965

Barbara Gittings in picket line, photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen (1965), via NYPL

Lesbian Wedding, 1968. via The Wide Open Town History Project Records. Courtesy of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.


Donna Gottschalk holds poster “I am your worst fear I am your best fantasy” at Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day parade, photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

Jannette Louise Spires, Mary Alice Wesley & Brenda Ann Bush, Tampa, Florida

Three members of Lavender Menace at the Second Congress to Unite Women, New York, 1970 May (May 1970), photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

Gay Activists Alliance Softball Team, photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen via NYPL

photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

1971, Albany Gay Rights Demonstration, photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

1970, Sylvia Rivera, photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen via NYPL

1971, Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

Gente, A Women’s Celebration at the Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA 1975, photo by Cathy Cade via leslielohman.org

Gay rights demonstration, Albany, New York, 1971, photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

1971, manonla evans and donna-burkett in wisconsin

1971, Gay rights demonstration, Albany, New York, photo by Diana Davies via NYPL

1972, ALA Taskforce

1972 – Lesbian Couple, Hollywood, photo by Anthony Friedkin

1972, The Black Lesbian Caucus at NY Gay Pride

1972 – “Lesbian Couple #1” photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen via NYPL

1973 – Gail and Kate Rebuilding Cathy’s VW Engine, Emeryville, CA, photo by cathy cade

1974 – Isis at the IHOP: Seated L to R: Suzi Ghezzi, Stella Bass, Jeanie Fienberg, Nydia Mata, Lauren Draper, Carol MacDonald and Ginger Bianco. Standing is Lolly Bienenfield. via via queermusicheritage.us

Inez Garcia at San Francisco Freedom Day, via leslielohman.org

screenshot via “After Stonewall” documentary

Women embracing at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, 1976, photo by diana davies

1971 – Gay Pride Parade New York City (Image by © JP Laffont/Sygma/CORBIS)

via lesbianseparatist.tumblr.com

Gay rights march in New York

New York City Pride, 1977

1977, Germantown couple on porch, photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen via NYPL

1977. Photo by Marie Ueda from The Marie Ueda Collection. Courtesy of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

the atlanta lesbian feminist alliance softball team

Salsa Soul Sisters meeting, New York City

“Fat Chance” Dance Group, Berkeley, CA 1979, photo by Cathy Cade via leslielohman.org

via “Gay by the Bay”


Dykes on Bikes

“lesbian couple” in the east village, 1981, by amy arbus

San Jose Lesbian March

Old Wives Tale Bookstore in San Francisco, California. Photo by Carol Seajay via lostwomynsspace.blogspot.com

C1 Women’s Lib Rally 1982, © 2008 – Don Ventura

Audre Lorde & Angela

“young dykes” (from the Lesbian Herstory Archives photofiles, marches 1980s folder)

Outside the courtroom, the press interviews Marilyn Barnett, accompanied by her attorney, Joel Ladin (right), after a Superior Court judge ruled that she had no right to a $500,000 beach house she claimed was promised to her by her former lover, tennis star Billie Jean King. Los Angeles, California, December 18, 1981. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

1983, Castro Street Fair

sistah boom


the Common Lives team

the indigo girls with winona laduke

Kitty Tsui by Jill Posener for “On Our Backs” magazine

via “Gay & Lesbian Philadelphia”

lesbian avengers via lesbianavengers.com, photo by carolina kroop

1988, Mariana Romo Carmona and June Chan, photo by Robert Giard via NYPL.com


ACT UP! photo by donna binder

Yolanda Duque & Cira Domingues

1993 Gay Pride in New York City, photo by Philip Jones Griffith

via sinister wisdom

ACT UP! protest in Chicago, 1990, photo by flickr.com/photos/genyphyr

copyright Saskia Scheffer

Janet Gail and Carolina Kroon, via lesbianavengers.com, photo by carolina kroon

photo by/of Laura Aguilar

Servicemembers in gay Pride parade, photo by cathy cade

Minnie Bruce Pratt & Leslie Feinberg, photo by Robert Giard via NYPL

via lesbianavengers.com, photo by carolina kroon

Dorothy Allison with Alix Layman and Wolf-Michael, 1995, photo by Robert Giard via NYPL

“Two Sandras” by Joyce Culver

The lesbian tent at the Beijing International Women’s Conference

1993 – New York City Pride

1995, “keisha and lia,” photo by joyce culver

1993 Gay & Lesbian March on Washington, via flickr.com/photos/perspective

1993 – NYC Pride March

lesbian couple fighting for custody of their child, 1995, via The Advocate

van dykes at the 1993 march on washington, via “The Advocate”

Susan Meiselas 1995 USA. New York City. Pandora’s Box. via magnumphotos.com

Greenwich Village 1997 via flickr.com/photos/perspective

punk band Team Dresch, mid-90s

dyke march, 1998

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3213 articles for us.


  1. Riese, thank you so much for this post. I absolutely adore every single one of the Herstory posts that goes up, and I think this one might be my favorite. These images are wonderful; thank you for collecting them and putting them together for us.

  2. This is so lovely!

    Sometimes I view gay politics a bit too much within the context of it being okay-to-talk-about (probably because I am still young and a little self-absorbed about my own generation) and forget that this shit doesn’t exist in a vacuum and that there were people who quietly just destroyed gender boundaries and expectations for decades before Harvey Milk even dared to ask people to come out.

    Seeing those women documented is so poignant and I’m grateful to all of them.

  3. This is an amazing collection! Thank you for posting, and thanks for organizing them in such a way that a Virgo feels comfortable.

    You guys, the 1990s turn me on so much, it’s a problem.

  4. so cool. i love seeing a visual catalogue of lesbian history. the lesbian couple in the east village in 1981? so over the top, ridiculous 80’s and stylish at the same time, lol. and the two women in the 1990’s wearing zoot suit pants, big hoop earrings, and hats standing by the classic car? fantastic. and all of the gorgeous women in the past 150 years being gender trangressive and wearing the hell out their suits? totally inspiring.

  5. As I was scrolling through these I was thinking to myself, “Sweet jesus, queer women have ALWAYS been painfully fashionable.” I wanted a lot of their clothes.

  6. I hardly ever comment here, and when I do it’s usually a (constructive) criticism, but this is a FANTASTIC post. So much work must have gone into this. Thank you so much, this is such a valuable contribution to this website and to the queer knowledge base as a whole. Thank you, Riese.

  7. This is awesome! So many ladies there I wish I could have known. I think Gladys and Annabell in the 1880’s are my favorite.

  8. Riese, this is such a lovely thing to look at – thank you for compiling it so diligently.

    I love it for a number of reasons, but my prevailing reaction was ‘awesome clothes, ladies!’ Queer women: always stylish. And the evolution of hairstyles is fascinating as well.

    Here’s to all the people who have determinedly chipped away at heteronormativity – long before that was even a word – and here’s to all those who continue to do so.

  9. This is so awesome, not only for my interest but also for my always ongoing research on lesbian women in photography. For sure that I’ll recognize some of the photographers, so an email will be on its way to you Riese! Thanks a bunch for this post!

  10. I’m currently reading ‘Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers’ by Lillian Faderman, but it’s the Kindle edition and the pictures suck. So I’m just going to pretend that this post is a super expanded and extended much-better accompaniment to that book.

  11. great post. reminds me be to more out and proud, and not only when it’s simple. courageous as they were. i salute them.

  12. What an incredible post! Really well researched, fascinating and thorough visual record of lesbian history. Definitely one of the best Autostraddle posts ever.

    I remember my nan talking about “those queer ladies”, some people she used to know many years ago – a presumably lesbian “female companion” couple who lived together for about 60 years until their deaths in a tiny country village in Dorset where my grandmother grew up. She talked about them fondly – they were popular and well-liked by the locals, and I always wished there was some record or photographic (or even written) evidence of their lives. If it existed I’m sure Autostraddle would have found it!!

    • See if you can get your hands on some histories of Dorset! Local history collections often aren’t on the internet because the people who curate them aren’t generally young and hip or well-funded.

  13. I never comment but seriously, this is FANTASTIC!! Thank you so much for making such an effort and annoying your gf with all the books and allthe stuff and all the stuff!! made my day (and I’ve had a pretty great day so that’s saying something)

  14. Love it! So great to see visuals of peoples’ experiences when so often all I see are stories of the past in words.

  15. Dear Riese,

    I would buy Lavender Menace tee shirts if they were made available to me. Just sayin.



  16. this just made my day — this day and every day. it’s adorable and inspiring and just makes me feel all the feels.

  17. Well that was incredible. Wow. Thank you SO MUCH for this plethora of lesbian historical evidence. This made me really happy. :)

    Also the woman in the bottom center of the Patrons at Mona’s picture looks exactly like my grandmother. Like, exactly.

  18. I rarely comment on AS, despite the fact that I read at least half of the articles. I was having an awful day today, but this post turned it around. I wish I could have seen this as a teenager just a few years ago. I knew I wasn’t really alone, but since the only queer girls I knew were also the only hipsters I knew, I didn’t really fit in and thought that my sexuality was a phase tied to a style of dress or way of acting. It is so nice to see this myth debunked again in powerful and beautiful photos from the past 150 years. We are undying; we are not alone. Thank you for posting this.

  19. riese this is wonderful. have you considered submitting this to an archive and/or making a bigger project out of it? i mean because i know you are really bored and have nothing to do and all… ;)

    no but seriously, this is so clearly a labor of love and an incredible final product. thank you <3

    • I agree. I said something similar in my comment. I really think Riese should look for a home for this because its awesome. Coffe table book!

    • FIRSTLY WOW! I am so happy and warmed by everybody’s response to this post!

      secondly, i know that a book would be so amazing and cool i would love it and die of happiness BUT i can’t because i don’t own the rights to any of these photos. having them up on a website is one thing, but reproducing them to sell to people would be super illegal and unethical, like profiting from their work. unless of course we went through and found the copyright holders for all these photos and then paid them to let us re-publish them? i don’t know how much that would cost. maybe it’s worth looking into.

      • i think that is a really valid Project For The Future. i will try to learn about how that works. maybe one day you could get an intern or an assistant specifically for that task. maybe this should be an email not a comment.

      • I just recently found 3-4 pictures of 1800’s era (guessing) lesbians in my family. I am working on cleaning them up in Photoshop now but I would sign the rights over should you ever publish such a book Riese.

      • This is a great compilation–and important. However, publishing photographs on a website without permission of the copyright holder is still a violation of copyright, especially if you are taking them from published books. I recommend linking back to your original sources, too, instead of just text.

  20. I love this post and the fact that these exist! This is seriously a really great archive and I can imagine it to be an incredibly time consuming task, which is much appreciated!

  21. This is so awesome!! And I’m proud of the fact that, if you squint a little, I look like Donna Gottschalk in that photo!

  22. I was once at a party that was playing vintage lesbian porn. I have no idea where they managed to score such a thing. about 90% of the movie were the two girls fumbling around trying to remove 50 million layers, follows by some awkward scissoring.

  23. Words can’t express how ‘at home’ these pictures make me feel. This picture series is proof it gets better, and these are the women who got us there.

  24. This post has caused me to have the hugest smile on my face. If ever I have a bad day, this is the post to revisit.

    I am loving the couple who broke the law on cross-dressing, in jail together. I can’t believe they even had laws against that kind of thing back then.

  25. This is so fantastic. I love AS history posts so much, I always feel like I’m discovering ancestors I never knew I had. Some of these photos killed me, I wish there were stories to go with them. Also, the girl on the left in the first of the 1940s photos? I want that outfit.

  26. Autostraddle is always awesome. But this post is a whole other level of awesome.

    In fact, Riese, I think you should try to publish this as a book. Seriously. I think this is something people would buy. Talk to publishers. Talk to an agent. Its really, really, amazing.

  27. Nikki S. Lee is in lesbian “costume” in the above photo. It’s part of her “Lesbian Project” of 1997.

  28. I just keep coming back to stare at it!!

    do you think I could get Long Island Medium to talk to all of them for me?

  29. thank you! this is amazing. gay history is erased and erased time and time again, and it’s the best type of validation to get to see such tangible, vibrant, awesome proof of our existence. not only did we exist – despite the efforts of erasure – but we existed in the most exciting ways.

  30. riese, i’m so glad you put this together. reading lesbian herstory is important, but seeing it just makes it that much more real.

  31. This is wonderful! Just one note – if it’s the same Nikki Lee as I’m thinking of,she’s an artist who dresses/presents as a member of a subculture and then takes a picture. She has done this with many groups, including the lesbian community. So the image of her is one of her posing as a lesbian – which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it, just something you might want to know.

    • yes i know, i got it from her website actually, i can’t remember how i found her work, maybe via leslie lohman — i thought that she was actually a lesbian though? in addition to choosing that subculture to photograph. but maybe she’s not. i’ll take it down until i’m sure either way.

  32. Riese, I absolutely loved this post! It has to be one of the most inspiring things I’ve cast my eyes upon in a long time. I’ve seen that photo of Barbara Gittings picketing before but her dignity and strength always slay me. As a gay woman with a disability I was particularly moved by your inclusion of the women with disabilities. Thank you so much for all your hard work and perseverance, it would be amazing if this was made into a book!

  33. What a wonderful collection!
    If any of these photos are available for donation to a repository like ours, they would have a lovely home here in San Francisco.

    Tess McCarthy, SAA Member, MLIS – December 2012
    User, Reference, Access and Outreach Service Specialist
    The Center for Sex & Culture Library and Archives
    1349 Mission Blvd.
    San Francisco, CA
    [email protected]

      • Autostraddle would be certainly welcome here; and, any community of Autostraddle is welcome to visit our library/archive open hours in San Francisco most Mondays and Sundays from 11:30 to 4 PM. ;-) (Free wi-fi, if that does anything…)

    • I want to apologize to the GLBT Historical Society for putting a call out for these resources. In no way did I mean any malice or to discount their collection by making such a bold statement. Again, my apolgies. But lastly? What a killer collection of photos. Thank you for bringing this to light.

  34. Really want a “Anita Dear Shove It” shirt. And all the shirts.


    This is beautiful. Thanks, Riese, you wonderful human being you.

  35. Hey,

    Jumped in from the boingboing link…. What a great collection of pictures! I agree the sexual preference and even gender of some of the earlier/more ambiguous photos may be questionable but in all a superlative collection. Thanks!

  36. Oh my gosh. All these photos are so sweet and cute. I couldn’t help but imagine myself as a lesbian through the ages and what my life may have been like in the various eras. I’m so glad that all these women went ahead and kept on loving women loud and proud despite the adversity they my have encountered. Now I just wanna go around holding my baby’s hand everywhere I go!

  37. This is so beautiful. I can’t help but imagine what our contributions to future archives will look like. This really makes me proud to be a part of the community.

  38. Pingback: 150 years of photos of American lesbians - More happy things! | More happy things!

  39. Getting real tired of woman being used as short-hand for CAFAB. “Here’s a bunch of people dressed as men… lesbians obv, unlike trans women who do not seem to appear here.” oh, and yes, if we could have more stuff from the Daughters of Bilitis, because they aren’t problematic at all.

    Please stop pretending womyn like me were invented in 1991 or something.

    • Sylvia Rivera was listed in the 70s, but yes – I would definitely love to have seen more trans sisters in this timeline.

      If you or anyone else knows of any good resources for historical photos of queer trans women, I bet lots of us would love to know about them. (I mean, I can google of course, but any better ideas…)

      • yes! i would love to see those resources!! (and i did google, obvs)
        (also we shouldn’t assume that every woman in this gallery besides sylvia is cis, yannow?)

  40. oh I love this! Lesbians through the years! This could so easily be continued!
    Everything about this made me SMILE!

    THANK YOU, Autostraddle!

  41. Awesome collection of lesbians. It’s amazing to see that we’ve been around so long. The love on some of these women’s faces is amazing. It’s beautiful to see how long we have loved each other. Always, eh? Beauty. Thank you!

  42. A great gallery — for which I can provide a couple of details. The photo titled “1930s Lesbian Couple at Club via medusasseveredhead.tumblr.com” was taken in Paris by the great photographer Brassai. It originally appeared along with a series of other photographs of working-class dance halls known as bals-musettes in his 1933 book Paris by Night: http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2012/04/28/brassai_paris_by_night.html.

    One other photo in the 1960s section also shows a Paris lesbian club: Chez Moune at 54 Rue Jean-Baptiste in the Pigalle district. Chez Moune was the longest-running lesbian nightclub in Paris; it opened in 1936 and remained an exclusively lesbian club into the 1980s. It then started targeting a mixed clientele, but maintained Sundays as lesbian night until 2009.

  43. I came out in the early 80s, and was acquainted with Cathy Cade, who published a book of dyke photos, if I recall…
    Anywho I LOVED this collection-great job, Riese!
    I thought I might see some of the artists from Olivia Records, who used to give concerts in Oakland and Berkeley and easily draw audiences of 10,000 women, but since there are no musicians, it must be a copyright thing, I guess. Meg Christian and Cris Williamson were very key to my journey. (Your mom probably used to drive you crazy with their songs, Riese!)

    • DEB! haha! yes she did! yes i found this amazing website with so much stuff about olivia — queermusicheritage.us
      when i started collecting photos i felt like doing musicians would just open up a whole door to another gallery, basically? but a few got in there.

    • Actually, there is a photo of the fabulous Linda Tillery in “Gente, A Women’s Celebration at the Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA 1975, photo by Cathy Cade via leslielohman.org,” but she’s not identified. She’s on the right with the mic.

  44. Okay I will never be anything but happy again I swear, this is like the most amazing thing I have EVER seen. Actually crying a lil bit right now. So fascinating, so beautiful.

  45. Congrats all you lesbian cats! Lovely photos of a proud tradition of lesbian solidarity!

    I adore the photo of the two dapper ladies in the suits and top hats!

    Gender roles? The kids where onto that scam 100 years ago!

  46. Time to set the (my) record straight. Am an 80 year old man. Straight. Please accept my apologies for my terrible thoughtlessness toward gays over so many years.

    My gosh I’ve never seen so many pictures of people with all of them smiling.

    Go well you folks, go well.

  47. so, you found a bunch of photos of women posing together and that makes them all be gay? based on facebook alone, i must know a lot more lesbians than i thought

  48. Wonderful to remember the Pride Marches in NYC and the Marches on Washington, these events usually had beautiful weather. If you ask, thousands of lesbians might send you a picture of their local events. If you want pictures of me as a young dyke in 79/80, I would happily contribue.


        I’ll see if I can rustle up stuff from overseas. It’ll likely be more recent materials and there might be the issue of outing people, but there’s historically significant stuff like the gay Jamaican wedding you guys covered or another lesbian Indian wedding, or the gay prides in India after section 377’s repeal and the Uganda pride, stuff that is culturally significant.

  49. This is a great collection of photos, thank you for collecting and posting them.

    One possible correction, though. In the photo of Gladys and Annabelle, The house, their style of dress (in particular, Annabelle’s dress is well above her ankles), the blue ink, and the overall quality of the photo suggests early 1930’s rather than the 1880’s.

  50. I guess “Herstory” is defined as inaccurate history.

    Some of these may not actually show lesbians. Rather, displays of same-sex affection in photographs used to be relatively normal – concepts such as homosexuality as a trait, rather than a lifestyle choice, are relatively modern, so the sight of two people of the same gender posed together didn’t cause people to bat an eye.

    So, yeah, this is a reach

    • Read Lillian Faderman’s “Surpassing the Love of Men” for an in-depth herstory of women-with-women relationships. Ex: ‘Boston Marriages’.

      Riese, thanks mucho for all your work. Please be in touch with me re: photos from times and places, etc. not yet in this collection.

  51. THANK YOU so much for compiling this collection! I especially appreciate the number of photos of women of color.

  52. My favorite is the photo of Adele Clark and Nora Houston. Also when I looked at it the first thing that came to mind was that it looked like it had been taken out of Downton Abbey.

    Also…Dyke Lumber, anyone?

  53. This is fantastic! From the ’70’s on, it’s like looking in my photo album. So many familiar faces, so many gone now. Thank you for putting this together.

  54. I love this! I was going to make a comment on how your article omitted the word “bisexual” (you know, since Bisexuality Day is this weekend and all), but then noted that your title included “and other women-loving women.” So… all good?
    PS–fyeah Djuna Barnes!

  55. This is amazing! I interviewed the author of Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold back when I lived in Buffalo. Can you search some of these images on Google image search (the drag and drop) to find out where you got them? Also, I think we have a Lesbian Archives at the library at the University of Oregon.

  56. It wasn’t until I saw this again on tumblr that I realized Dyke Lumber Company was in my hometown. I screamed.

  57. Pingback: Das war die phenomenelle Woche 38/2012 – ein lesbischer Rückblick

  58. An excellent collection of queer culture! These are wonderful. I will say that in some of the older ones, the poses were normal for straight people, especially among women who were so segregated. Casual affectionate contact was much more common than today.

  59. I have so many feelings with this photo gallery. Most of them happy, but there’s still that little sad voice in me thinking: “Why does this even have to be a thing? Why does Riese have to spend hours upon hours finding photos validating our love in a time past?” Sigh. I have to go process again.

    Also – huge huge huge props to you, Riese, for finding so many awesome WOC couples =D Thanks to the AS team for being so inclusive and aware of the trappings of our society. Mad respect!

  60. What a simply splendid collection :) I smiled, I cried, I hooted! LOVE the Dyke Lumber company, have a similar shot of friends posing in front of the Great Dyke Pass in Zimbabwe :)

  61. Honestly, this chokes me up. I’m smiling, but my heart hurts for those who had to suffer off-camera. <3

    Wonderful compilation. Instant fave.

  62. I’m trying to figure out how you figured out that the female war workers were lesbians. I’m bi, myself, and this isn’t a defensive thing. Just a history thing.

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  64. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I love the pictures! This has been such an amazing experience…the herstory of us…Makes me proud to be the LesboOnTheCouch!!!!
    Thank you!

  65. The photo of Kitty Ely and Helen Emory is part of a photo album that I own. Kitty put it together in her lifetime, and appeared to love cuddling with her friends in front of cameras in photo studios. This photo of Kitty with Helen is wonderful, but it’s not much different than any of the other photos of Kitty and her other friends in the album. (In other words, she doesn’t appear to be Kitty’s “special friend.”) I am quite doubtful that either Kitty or Helen was lesbian. Both went on to marry men and have children.

  66. I’m glad to see how many pictures of lesbians with disabilities you have featured! It’s great to see representation!

  67. I would have loved to see something in the disclaimer pointing out that we don’t know whether all of these people identify as female. Not everyone who looks to you like a woman in men’s clothing is cross-dressing. Some of these people may have been trans men. Including them in this gallery without even a note that they might exist is erasing.

  68. Great sexy way to start my day. It’s so vital to know our history. We were fortunate enough to know and love a lesbian elder, Glad, who was part of the DOB and cross-dressed (and arrested) from the 1930’s on. She gave us her photos before she died and said, “No one else will care about them when I’m gone.” Missing her still and it’s been 15 years. Add my THANKS for your inspiration and all your work, Riese.

  69. Eehee, marvellous collection! Aw man. I remember seeing a set of old black and white photos displayed in westport house and there was one titled “The Tango Arrives in Mayo” featuring two ladies dancing very closely. Me and my ladyfriend just giggled to eachother. I SO REGRET not getting a photo of it cos I can’t find it anywhere. ):

  70. Have you not heard of OLOC’s OLOHP, by Arden Eversmeyer and Margaret Purcell. “Gift of Age” & “Without Apology” They have pictures and written accounts of lives of lesbian from the 1920 & forward. I’m proud to say my partner of about 48 yrs and I also marched in the 1993 March of Washington. I video our march down Pennsylvai Ave. Arden & Margaret’s works have now been moved to Smith College in Connecticut. We (J) and I have 40+ yrs of pictures of lesbian in this area. Love, Scottie

  71. My GAWD I love this collection! Powerful, touching, poignant… what wonderful women – and courageous to boot! Bless all who put this together!

  72. What an incredible group of photographs! Someone/s went to a lot of trouble to put this together.
    Thank you! Great Job!

    • Dear Alice,
      Forgive my contacting you but I note that you are a member of this group (150 years of lesbian photographs)
      How does one become a member? I left my contact which is close to the end of the list but could not find how to be a member of the group.
      Yours sincerely,
      Catriona Isobel Rose

  73. A wonderful piece chronicling lesbians….wow I never imagined there would be pics going back to the 1800’s!!!! What a collection! Sorry I wasn’t in any of them, lol….70’s plus NYC!!!! Thanks for the memories

  74. Pingback: Epic Gallery: 150 Years Of Lesbians And Other Lady-Loving-Ladies « The Outskirts

  75. I met my partner when I was 18 We were together for 42 years until she was taken by cancer.
    These were our vows
    I Catriona Isobel Rose P….. take and accept thee, Gweneth B….. as my life partner and companion.Such love, devotion affection and compassion I have are thine as are all things I possess..I hold these words to be true as long as we live.
    Rose P.

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  81. Some of the older pictures reminded me of a picture of my great grandmother. Seeing as she died before I was even 5 and the only time I met her, I was 3, I didn’t really know her. Still, I have my assumptions based off a few photographs and stories in our family history. I mean, I don’t know her so I could be wrong, but I think she was bi at least.
    One of the few pictures of her from when she was younger is her as a teenager dressed in her father’s suit. Apparently that was common enough to get a picture and a story about how she went out to dances as a boy, then danced with other girls. One of those girls was not very happy when she discovered my great grandma was a woman.
    Everyone else in my family considers it just jokes, but, eh, I don’t know. It just seemed like she looked a lot happier in that picture. And I don’t really know a whole lot of straight teenage girls who would jokingly go out on dates with women, pretending to be a man. Also, she definitely fit the stereotype of being a tomboy, even considering she grew up on a farm.
    I guess I’ll never know for sure, but I still wish I could have known her.

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  85. Very,Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, Very, beautiful. I don’t have words!Amazing! Eu estou em êxtase!!!!!

  86. Olá bom dia,
    achei este material de uma qualidade muito boa, e gostaria de saber se vcs não tem aquivos Brasileiros, gostaria de mim ver também , as lésbicas Brasileira

  87. I really want to put the picture of Anna Moor and Elsie Dale in my living room – is there anywhere we can buy enlarged copies of this photo?

    Loved this collection so much!

  88. So many strong women in our pasts. I’d love to thank all of them for being their authentic selves. I think I even spotted “Alice” from the Brady Bunch on a motorcycle! LOL

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  95. Great collection! “hire a dyke” construction worker on the right in the 70s is Abigail Abduhl.

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  99. The photo of the 4 girls (Dyke Lumber Company, c. 1925, Rogers, Arkansas. Neg. #N009217), were not lesbian. The editor-in-chief of Autostraddle “took it upon herself to research early images of same-sex couples, painstakingly looking through archives, websites, digital collections, and Tumblr sites alike”. Yet the girls in the photo were not in fact same-sex couples nor lesbian.

  100. I remember events organized by NOW (National organization for Womem) in the late ’80’s which were very lesbian friendly – ie a reading by Dorothy Allison. I bet they have some pictures. Also there was a paper in DC called The Blade which was gay orientated. Plus there were Gay Pride parades in DC (along DuPont Circle) and a Black Pride event across the street from Howard University. I seem to also recall a gay bookstore. I bet any of those sources would provide you with more photos.

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  104. Terrific Her-story.Check out my http://www.Romainebrooks.com site and my FB fan page. My gals, Natalie, Lily and Romaine were out lesbians before it was safe or fashionable. They are our foremothers. They had guts and style. I know many of the artists whose work is featured here and I can add a few photographs from my coming out in Miami days. We need to be the keepers of our flames. Thanks for stoking the fire. My new book RomaineBrooks: A Life keeps the embers glowing for new generations. Check out some of the interviews on line at Ms.blog and Strange Flowers and Suzanne Stroh’s site. All part of the conversation.

  105. Fabulous collection, an amazing labor of love! I know a number of women who are not identified in the photos. Would be nice if they were numbered for easy reference.

    Photo after 1971 – Gay Pride Parade New York City (Image by © JP Laffont/Sygma/CORBIS – Margaret Sloan Hunter is in front.

    Salsa Soul Sisters meeting, New York City – I’m pretty sure that’s Audre Lorde in the middle.

    Old Wives Tale Bookstore in San Francisco, California. Photo by Carol Seajay via lostwomynsspace.blogspot.com – I doubt the photo is by Carol since she’s on the left, and that was waaay before selfies!

    sistah boom – That’s Carolyn Brandy on the left, and I think Linda Hirschhorn in front on the right. The next photo is also of Sistah Boom members.

  106. Thanks so much for posting these. I’ll echo what a few others have noted, however. Some of these historic photos were not of lesbians, just of women playing dress-up. This was a pastime in the 1920’s and 30’s. I know this for certain: although I would love to imagine that my father’s mother, my grandmother, was a lesbian, and although I have a couple of big photos showing her and her gal pals dressed in men’s suits (1920’s), she was not a lesbian. We have lots of other dress-up photos showing them in harem outfits, wild west costumes etc.
    It’s pretty clear from some of the photos here who is a lesbian and who’s just playin’!
    Thanks very much!

  107. Seeing how brave those ladies in those 50-60’s photos were. I feel like a coward because I never had the nerve to show my feelings toward another woman. It took another 50 years before I’d kiss another and begin to explore my feelings. I was so rapped up in how I’d be precieved. I wish that I could go back and live my life over.

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  109. New energy comes after fun. Fun fun fun fun fun ppplllzzzzzz. Don’t waste you’re time with Me. OK olloo olllooolllooolo

  110. being a Lesbian and proud of it I find it hard to believe how shunned they were by society and their own families. but I so glad we have awakened as a nation. Now we need to change our feeling toward interracial couples. Looking at lesbian publications I can see some hope by the number mixed couples. In my eyes they make beautiful couples. They don’t seem to see color only love. Keep up the good work and hopefully we won’t need to have stories about how it was, but how great it is. We should all be proud of who we are and how we choose to live.

  111. wonderful gallery! thank you for that. I’ve learned so much from seeing the photos and researching the history of some of these women.

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  114. This is truly an amazing compilation. I’m a little overwhelmed and extremely touched by. Nice work and thank you.

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  116. Okay can we just admire how hot Louise (from the 1940’s photograph.) is? I know she’s probably dead now but if I had a time machine I would absolutely go back in time and let her pin me down.

  117. A Lot of these women are Hot, not gonna lie. I wouldn’t mind if any ate me out

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  126. 1920’s Dorothy Schmidt photo . Dungarees, hat and girl in dress. Is me and my best friend for 30 years. I’m female in this life but my best friend is male. I don’t know how reincarnation works but when I saw this picture 10 years ago I got an electric shock and disbelief and remembered a whole life time of how we got to Atlanta from England after WW1. We showed his daughters and my daughter and they thought it was Photoshop and just laughed . It’s one of the craziest things that’s happened in my life. Just wanted to share. It changed our life . Fascinating .

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