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Anne Maguire & Maxine Wolfe

Anne Maguire and Maxine Wolfe speak about the founding of the Lesbian Avengers, and the Avenger’s protest at the Alice Austen House.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
November 5, 2017
People: Alice Austen, Anne-Christine D’Adesky, Marie Honan, Sarah Schulman, Ana Maria Simo, Gertrude Tate
Organizations: ACT UP, Friends of Alice Austen House, Inc., Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, Lesbian Avengers, Lesbian Herstory Archives
Places: Alice Austen House, Middle Village
Above: Elizabeth Alice Austen House, 2 Hyland Boulevard, Rosebank, Richmond County, NY, 1933; Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Lesbian Avengers, founded in the early 1990s, was an action group that worked to raise public awareness of lesbian issues. The first action the new group took was to advocate for rainbow curriculum in New York Public Schools by organizing a march and event at a public school in Queens. Alice Austen House was brought to their attention by Amy Khoudari who was at that time writing her Ph.D. dissertation on Alice Austen. The Lesbian Avengers staged a protest on the day of a nautical festival, dressed in old-style bathing suits as lifeguards, bearing life preservers with “Dyke Preserver” written on them. They stated that the board of the Alice Austen House was denying Alice Austen’s existence as a lesbian and were advocating for the museum to tell the whole story of her life, including her partner Gertrude Tate who was unmentioned at that time. Both Maguire and Wolfe comment on the erasure of lesbian’s contributions to the modern LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer] movement and in history. They also speak about the importance of visibility of lesbian and gay history in general, and lesbian figures and history in particular, which has been under-represented, noting that the Alice Austen House is the first queer national historic landmark to be given to a woman.

This oral history is also available at the Lesbian Herstory Archives

To request a copy of this oral history, please contact info@nypap.org.