public feminist

RIP: Jill Johnston

Jill Johnston passed away on September 18th and I didn’t learn about it until last night while I was reading “milestones” in Time Magazine. I watch the six o’clock news every night and didn’t hear this mentioned once. But I’m not surprised. The local news seems geared more toward sports fanatics than cultural fanatics these days. Don’t get me wrong. I love sports. But I like a balance, too. And it would be nice to actually get some news while I’m watching the news.

Who is Jill Johnston?

For those who don’t know, Jill Johnston was the feminist author of LESBIAN NATION and a writer for The Village Voice. She started writing a dance column for TVV back in 1959 when it was just a little paper in The Village no one ever thought would last. From there she went on to write several controversial pieces that kept her often at odds with the feminist movement throughout the l960’s. TVV even refered to her as, “the country’s first shamelss public lesbian.”

During a debate in New York in l971, Johnston had a three-way kissing session, in public, with two of her friends, which casued more than a few raised eyebrows then. And I think it would still raise a few eybrows now.

But for me, Jill Johnston was the beginning of an era for gay liberation and equal rights. Jill and other gay people like her started a movement that not only liberated gay people in general, but also opened up doors for books and other cultural mediums that might not exist today if it hadn’t been for their courage.

If you’re l, g, b, or t, I urge you to read her work. If you’re not and you’re interested in the lgbt community, you’ll find her work just as fascinating.

RIP, Jill.