Mapping Queer History

Studying the geography of queer spaces and communities

I have been collaborating with Dr. Annelise Heinz to study how lesbians built community during the 1970s and 1980s. To do so, we map thousands of locations printed in Lesbian Connection, an influential bimonthly magazine with a national readership. Businesses ran advertisements in Lesbian Connection for commercial ventures such as Greasy Gorgon Garage, a lesbian-run mechanic’s shop in Hatfield, MA, or the women-owned record company Ariana Productions out of Cleveland, OH. Community groups posted notices about lesbian festivals, conferences, and resources, while individuals wrote letters to weigh in on issues or volunteered to act as local guides through a “Contact Dyke Directory.”

Lesbian Connection’s Inaugural Issue (1974)

Mapping these locations reveals a massive, geographically distributed network that challenges preconceptions of where lesbian feminists lived, worked, organized, and traveled. Our work is forthcoming in The Pacific Historical Review. We have also partnered with Eric Gonzaba and Amanda Regan to compare these geographies of lesbian communities to the queer spaces of gay men, as uncovered through their research project Mapping the Gay Guides. Our goal is to uncover a national geography of queer space during the late 20th century.