Photo by Phyllis Christopher – documenting lgbt visibility, sexuality and protest in San Francisco from 1988-2003.
THE DRAG KING BOOK
The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have often turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with its opposite, the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.
The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and selfrespect we can require no less of ourselves.”…
for every dyke who’s dared dress in drag;
for every dyke who’s been proudly femme or proudly butch;
for every one of us who’s survived the insults, the daily fears
and humiliations; the beatings;
for every dyke who’s dared to live her life
– and for every dyke who didn’t survive –
The Swashbuckler by Lee Lynch
…” Spread across the walls of the NewBridge annex, the collection is a monumental archive charting the pioneering success of On Our Backs, a bold and ground-breaking magazine launched in San Francisco in 1984 and printed until 2006, that initiated the mainstream acceptance of women’s erotica. Throughout its run, the magazine faced serious challenges with censorship, impeding its distribution and reach.
On Our Backs paved the way for women to find a real, accessible expression and representation of lesbian desire. The plastic facade so often seen in pornography was shunned in favour of capturing authentic chemistry between actual lesbian couples; allowing the women to be portrayed as they wanted, doing what they wanted. This self-representation was a form of empowerment and ultimately blazed the way towards an uprising of sexuality. “….