In 1976, a number of Amsterdam lesbian feminists started to call themselves ‘Lesbian Nation’, after Jill Johnston’s book Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution (1973). Lesbian Nation revolved around lesbian imagination and forging a positive lesbian identity. They talked about this during lesbian weekends and propagated it by means of their new lesbian lifestyle and androgynous clothing style.
The group also had an activist attitude. Several Lesbian Nation women were involved in the occupation of the Bloemenhove abortion clinic in 1976 (to prevent its closure). The group took the lead in the organisation of a big gay and lesbian protest rally in 1977, in response to the anti-gay campaign of American Anita Bryant. The women were also active at the cultural front, for instance by helping to organise the first two women’s’ festivals in the Amsterdam Vondelpark in 1976 and 1977. Moreover, the Lesbian Nation group provided fertile ground for many cultural women’s projects in Amsterdam. Examples of this were women’s press Virginia, women’s fund Mama Cash, the Lesbisch Prachtboek (The Lesbian Book of Magnificence), magazines Lust en Gratie (Lust and Grace) and Diva, het feminist pub Saarein and women’s bookstore Xantippe. There is no specific date on which Lesbian Nation abolished itself – around the mid-Eighties, the group’s energy naturally transferred to different social, cultural and political projects set up by women.
Text: Nina Littel