Off Our Backs – Virtual Opening and Curatorial Talk

Off Our Backs - Virtual Opening and Curatorial Talk


Friday, February 12, 2021    
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Event Type

Join us on Friday, February 12, 2021 at 6 pm for an opening and virtual tour of Off Our Backs: Lesbian Feminist Periodicals 1956-2000, presented by guest curator Meaghan Kent.

The event is free, open to the public, and conducted via ZOOM.

Upon registering a link and password will be automatically emailed to you.


“No one ever told us we had to study our lives,

make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history

or music, that we should begin with the simple exercises first

and slowly go on trying

the hard ones, practicing till strength

and accuracy became one with the daring

to leap into transcendence, take the chance

of breaking down in the wild arpeggio

or faulting the full sentence of the figure.

-And in fact we can’t live like that: We take on

everything at once before we’ve even learned

to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin

in the midst of the hardest movement

the one already sounding as we are born.”

-Adrienne Rich, “Transcendental Etude,” Chrysalis, No. 6, 1977


An impossibly possible movement. Looking at feminism, and specifically through the lens of lesbian feminist periodicals, we are quick to realize the ebb and flow of a socio-political movement, often divided, that progresses back and forth again and again and again. Pushed down, push back. On our backs, off our backs.


The exhibition, whose title is dually inspired by the publications Off Our Backs (1976-2005) and On Our Backs (1985-2001), highlights publications from The Stonewall Archives from 1956-2000. The publications don’t necessarily read linearly and were multi-purpose in their design to serve their communities. Publications as early as The Ladder reveal a desire and commitment to form communities and to normalize lesbian culture in a heterosexual state.  It’s outreach designated connections, meetings, and safe spaces. Publications grew to include poetry, art, and critical essays to encourage action. They empowered their sexual spirit and confronted stereotypes. Moreover, the publications were made to be widely disseminated so that they may reach out to those that felt alone. The periodicals included in the exhibition are outlined by thematic references: Forming Communities, Politics, Identifying Oppression and Sexual Autonomy.