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A Memoir in Lesbian Parables
In 1964, as a 23-year-old closeted lesbian school teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, I was diagnosed as a “paranoid schizophrenic” by an incompetent, straight, white, male psychiatrist who recommended commitment to a mental institution in Chicago. He justified his prognosis because I was a lesbian and struggled with the pretense of being straight. I sat alone in his office and fell into internalized homophobia – those deeply buried feelings of not being normal, of harboring unnatural feelings for women.
It would be another decade before the American Psychiatric Association (APA) took homosexuality off its list of mental disorders. Not until nearly three decades into my life could I begin living as my complete self. My journey out of those early years from shame into pride and defiance evolved the way people often come into our own, through movements for social justice.
Below: Listen to Patricia Jackson’s reading of Chapter “Anti-Rape Squad #38” at Aunt Lute’s, a multi-cultural women’s press.
“During the ’70s, I lived in approximately a dozen lesbian collective households. After several months of living together, we noticed that we synchronized our menstrual periods… One day a young, straight woman arrived at our Berkeley lesbian household and described her rape by a bunch of jocks… She had heard or read about us and requested our help with some sort of retaliation… We concocted a scheme of revenge and like all good strategists planned at least two fronts…We signed the leaflet, The Women’s Anti-Rape squad #38, so people would envision hordes of angry women avengers roaming the streets.”
Patricia Lee Jackson is a 72-year-old dyke, eco-feminist, and communist who walked her first picket line in 1964 – a wildcat teacher strike in Louisville, Kentucky. She now serves as Convener for the Gray Panthers of San Francisco and co-facilitates a series of Intergenerational Storytelling Projects with OutLoud Radio.
The bonding created between youth and elders in intergenerational workshops inspired this writing. Patricia and her partner of 35 years, Zoe Kastl, continue marching for social justice. They currently dwell in San Francisco, California.