Lesbian Press Politics: Charting Lesbian and Feminist Publishing in Mid-Century Houston, TX

Working from the premise that grassroots organizations rely on grassroots publications for movement coherence and dissemination, this project uses topic modeling and word frequency charts to trace the content and context of two publications from the feminist movement in Houston, Texas: Breakthrough and Pointblank Times. Breakthrough (a mainstream liberal feminist publication) and Pointblank Times (a lesbian publication) at times align, and at other times diverge. Although these publications apparently target different audiences, they were in fact produced by similar and often overlapping networks of activists and financial backers. Tracing the overlap as well as the distance between these two publications reveals a great deal about the larger dynamics of the feminist movement in Houston, Texas during the middle to late 1970s.

Local activist Betty Barnes described Houston as the center of the feminist world in 1977. This project is one small piece of a larger dissertation that tries to make sense of that claim, pointing to this unique city’s significance for both the core and periphery of a larger national movement for political equity around sex and sexuality. Residents of Houston built various campaigns for municipal accountability around sexual identity, many of which signaled an awareness of the complex intersectional politics of race, class, and ethnicity in the city. Analyzing the public facing artifacts of those various intersecting movements–the grassroots journalism of the movement–provides a striking visual record of the political interests of sexual liberalism in this period.


Posted on

October 19, 2018

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.