Buttons were almost like beautiful jewellery and at the same time, they were a sign of our fighting spirit. I lived in a dyke living group, home base for the parties and actions we organised. Wherever we went, the button machine always travelled with us!
A button like Black Lesbian gives power and inspiration. Being black and a lesbian means a lot to me, because this is what being me comes down to, it is one whole. During the Eighties and Nineties, an intensive exchange came about with black lesbian women abroad. For instance black lesbians in London, where they were extremely active in local politics. We learned a lot from it, as we did from the workshops button making held at international conferences.
To present yourself was cool and provided recognition. We also exchanged buttons. At demonstrations and actions I paid extra attention to my buttons. I pinned them on a jacket. The anti-apartheid button, the button against racism and the black lesbian button. I also had one to protest against nuclear energy and one saying ‘Act Up is watching you!’. I wore them on Pink Saturday, of course, and at parties. But I also made a ‘statement’ by wearing the pink triangle at the funerals of friends whose environment did not acknowledge their homosexuality. A little provocative, but invisibility is worse.
Text: Anne Krul