April 28, 2016 at 11:10 am EDT | by Kate Clinton
What caused lesbian extinction?
45 headlines, gay news, Washington Blade

The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 14, 1987. Kate Clinton is second from right. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

It has been a tough time for lesbians. Our tribal language and lands are disappearing. The word ‘lesbian’ has been retro-grouped to ‘queer’ by Huff Post among others. We have lost our sacred summer gathering lands in Michigan. I have been investigating the causes of the The Dyke Diaspora for 25 years.

In 1993, a gay magazine, which shall remain nameless (hint: three syllables, rhymes with ‘bad show Kate’), hired me as a monthly columnist. My first column was about the Newsweek “Lesbians” cover story that had appeared the week after its “Could Dinosaurs Return?” cover story. The column was rejected. Enjoy:

News bulletin, the year 8093:

Paleoarcheologists have discovered an ancient mosquito suspended in amber resin in a dig outside a known lesbian festival site in central Michigan.  Scientists were studying the foundation of an ancient “eatery,” complete with ceremonial food arches, when they chanced upon the find. The excellent condition of the site also enabled them to uncover a small container of carbon foodsticks labeled “Dino-Fries.”

Hypothesizing that the lambent mosquito had bitten a lesbian attending the festival, scientists used a syringe found in a Diet Pepsi can to extract blood from the mosquito’s perfectly preserved and engorged proboscis. They isolated an incomplete strand of DNA. They augmented the partial strand with the DNA from a leather softball cover, circa 1991, and using ordinary tap water rehydrated the complete DNA and ecce lesbo! A reanimated lesbian.

“This is an extraordinary moment,” said project spokeswoman, Simone Noway, “for it has allowed us to end our centuries-long speculation about what caused the lesbian to become extinct. As soon as ‘Amber’ came around, we were able to talk to her and find out what happened in those crucial latter years of the 21st century.”

Archeologists at Hettrick-Martin University had led research in the field for years, pioneering dig techniques at sites all over North America and proffering several intriguing theories on lesbian extinction.

In 7969, “Stonewall Six Thousand,” at an East Coast urban site, they uncovered scuffed, but perfectly intact Vibram-soled footwear, “Doc Martens,” which still had a half-life of about a billion years. Scientists speculated that their huge, weighted soles made it difficult for lesbians to flee from their predators. “We believe that in some cases, especially in the larger-sized footwear, lesbians undecided on this style looked down at their feet and actually died of fright. The later platform style was apparently quite lethal,” said Noway.

In 7890, Western water workers chanced upon the site of the second Lesbian Herstory Archives. The treasure trove yielded invaluable information from the late 1900s, a crucial period in lesbian evolution. Artifacts found at that site refuted the earlier-held notion that some drastic environmental or climatic change, some hole in the ozone layer, caused the Great Dyke Demise.

After poring over archives, scientists speculated that in fact the sudden glare of media publicity was too much for the lesbian organism. “After living mushroomlike for years in the primordial ooze of rumor and innuendo, lesbians were sent into shock by the ‘Lesbian Chic Period,’ following as it did on the heels of the ‘Stealth Lesbian Era.’” Despite an emergency airlift of cool sunglasses from L.A. Eyeworks, many perished from squinting.”

Perhaps the most controversial theory was presented at the 6100th Annual Women’s Studies Conference by Prof. Mookie McClinton, famous for her ovular work, “Lesbian Family Trees: The Burning Bush.” In her thesis on the Dyke Diaspora, “Lesbo a Go-Go?” she stated, “ I believe quite simply, that they ate their own.  And I don’t mean that in the good, old way,” she added wryly.  “It’s no coincidence that at that same time, the mainstream, swollen from assimilating many tributaries, overflowed its banks. Not only were food sources destroyed, but weakened dykes were blamed.”

Scientists briefed a slightly dazed Amber, wearing multi-pocketed pants and a ‘No One Knows I’m a Lesbian’ T-shirt, very popular in the Irony Age of the late 1900s. She rejected the shoe, sunlight and snack theories. “NOA,” she said flatly. None of the above.

“Here’s what happened.  Cruises became popular. The Aqua-Separatists sailed everywhere: Alaska – The Klondyke Tour; Australia – The Down There Tour; Lesbos – The Redundancy Tour. Not me.  I believe a Navy of ex-lovers cannot sail. I was actually one of the last land-based lesbians.

“Anyway, they ran out of places to go. At the time of my tragic accident, a mud-wrestling top-bottom thing, I know plans were in the works for a huge cruise to Jupiter. Everybody was going. They’d be gone for 7,000 years, stop at planets out and back with a different comedy show every night. There were just that many lesbian comics then. Lesbian lift-off was scheduled for late 1998. Near as I can figure, they’ll be back soon, give or take a month.”

Kate Clinton is a longtime humorist. She writes regularly for the Blade.

36 Comments
  • I’m sure there are many theories. The best way to ensure that establishments serving the LGBTQ community today are still around tomorrow is to tip generously for good service. Thank you.

  • “We have lost our sacred summer gathering lands in Michigan.”

    Considering that its official religion was hatred of trans women, don’t expect any tears.

    • Men ruined the open lesbian community, because we allowed them to infiltrate our culture. But, being members of the oppressive patriarchy, they had to take power. The lesbian community is underground now where the real men and the pretend men will never find it.

      • Said simply- Trans women exist. Some of those trans women are sexually and romantically attracted to women. We are lesbians. The lesbian community was not ruined by our existence. Rather the lesbian community got a bad name because of their own transphobia towards us.

        • You are not lesbians. Lesbian is for females only. We are not transphobic for not being attracted to males, penises. That is a homophobic statement. See, I once fully accepted transwomen. Those days are over. Too many transwomen are homophobic and harass lesbians for being lesbian and not being ‘inclusive’ for transwomen. Its not our job. We arent interested in transwomen sexually. You really keep banging your head and its very annoying. Plus its discrimination of lesbians. Give it up. I see transwomen online complain all the time lesbians wont date them. Maybe take the hint and leave us alone. You are all harassers of lesbians.

        • You want acceptance from lesbians? Start by accepting us and taking us seriously, which you dont. No wonder lesbians do not accept you. I dont. I have a few trans friends that do. They are welcome. And they respect lesbian spaces and dont demand acces to it. They know lesbians perceive them differently and they accept that. Youve got a lot to learn.

  • Your summer gathering ground and political Lesbian Separatists drove Lesbians into extinction. The Lesbian community itself caused too much lateral pain to too many queer women.

    • This is nonsense. The community began to shatter when we felt sorry for men suffering with AIDS, and started to take care of men. Of course, they never take care of women with breast cancer, which is much more widespread than AIDS ever was. Then we felt sorry for bisexuals (as if this has anything to do with being lesbian. Then we felt sorry for transpeople, who, in turn, trash us because all of these groups are patriarchal. They have no clue what equality is. Our problem was not in remaining exclusively lesbian. Yes, we have a thriving underground community now, one that no real man or pretend man will ever see.

      • To the author of this piece, here is your reason for extinction. Lateral damage between groups within the lesbian movement. The gathering ground for lesbians could have altered their views in the mid 90’s and Michfest would still be loved and honored.

        I was in college in 1991 when the bathroom incident happened at Michfest. It affected me and my life. It made it impossible for trans lesbians to exist within the lesbian community.

        LisB will think my life is illogical. An i live my life authentically and have only dated queer women. Myself, I identify as a lesbian because i love only women who want to love women.

        Lesbian extinction happened, if it ever did, cause younger generations of women freely chose a different path.

        LisB what should have lesbians have done in the 1980’s Aids crisis? If assistance was not given, what action should the lesbian community have been done? For those alive at the time what where the choices?

        Lisa Vogel was a participant own Janice Raymond’s ‘moral genocide’ of trans lesbians since 1976. These are real facts and actions she has taken.

        • Lesbians are females only attracted to females. The problem is lesbian disappears b/c of redefining lesbian. I see this is an American thing though. Not a problem in my own country where lesbian means what it really is: female homosexual. Redefining lesbian is an act of homophobia. And what is a queer woman actually? What does it mean?

          • Wendy Lev you bring up a few good questions about the definition of lesbian. I am curious by what you mean by ‘love’ and ‘female’ in your definition of lesbian.

            Honestly, I am kinda tired of these questions. The world is no longer 1976 or 1990. Today, trans women are women. We survive patriarchy as women.

            We, cis and trans lesbians, have more in common than differences.

          • Nope, lesbians are only bio female sexually attracted. Changing that meaning means a violation of lesbians. Female homosexuality does not include male bodies, male biology, penises. That is the very meaning of lesbian: female only. Youre a lesbophobe when you claim we do.

          • Wendy Lev- ‘lesbians are only bio female sexually attracted’ Are you a self identified TERF or ‘gender critica feminist? Modern lesbian culture now uses a more nuanced definition of ‘bio female’ because life and science are more complex than in 1991.

          • Lesbian means female homosexual. Get with the program. We are not sexually attracted to male bodies, penises nor minds. Thats what lesbian means. You are being homophobic.

          • In your definitions of these words you win your own game of logical feminism. Congrats.

            By ignoring lived experience and lives of a sub-set of women and women who love them, you win.

            You get to be upset that the larger community of women who love women who love women for not identifying with your own definition of the word ‘Lesbian’.

            True my life may violate the foundational views of womyn-born-womyn political lesbian separatism. But, this is not being homophobic or lesbophobic.

            Trans women lesbians exists. Its your logic that cannot incorporate new understandings of life.

          • Its not MY definition, its what female homosexuality always has been.
            Again, stop discriminating us and our sexuality, just stop this .
            Lesbian excludes anything bio male by definition, thats what female
            homosexuality is, just as gay males exclude anything female, as they are
            attracted to bio males only. Dont argue with lesbians, instead respect
            us and be real with yourself. You are not biologically female. If you
            were, you wouldnt be trans. Lesbians get enough discrimination from
            males as it is, we dont need transwomen to tell us we should love p*enis, too. It is highly discriminatory of lesbians. Most transwomen get that lesbians are not interested in them
            b/c they arent female and they know and accept that.

          • When did I ever suggest a lesbian must love a trans woman with a penis? I never made that suggestion.

            You are tripping off a lot of issues that are not included in this thread.

          • When you include transwomen in lesbian, you change the meaning of lesbian sexuality, so you change the sexualities of millions of women. Lesbians do not identify with sexualities about males and penises. Btw, enough transwomen demand lesbians we sleep with them and if we dont want to, tell us we are transphobes. You do it too. You call me a radical feminist for stating lesbian is female only. Just stop this discriminatory BS. It hurts and harms lesbians. Especially young lesbians that have to deal with a new layer of homophobia coming from within LGBT> transwomen. You cant just use a word and change its meaning. It affects millions of other people.

          • For any lesbian, a female is a potential partner. But transwomen will never be. You are not in our category as you are not bio female. Thats not feminist. Thats what lesbian sexual orientation is. You tread on that, you tread on us. You want acceptance from people, yet discriminate lesbians. Not working.

          • Stop telling lesbians we should include transwomen sexually in our sexuality. It is discrimination of us. Panwomen are, queer women perhaps, other TW perhaps are interested in transwomen. But lesbians are not. Stop using us here for your own political goals. We dont care what you do or how you identify. But lesbians are not interested in transwomen as you are not bio female. Telling us otherwise is discrimination of us and hate speech.

          • No real woman will talk to lesbians about this dating stuff the way transwomen do. Only transwomen do. Get the hint? Its male behavior of transwomen. Lesbians have our own sexuality and agency and transwomen need to stay the F out of that.

          • there is no such thing as ‘modern lesbianism’. That is a homophobic statement. Lesbian means female homosexuality, always has, always will. Transwomen can date pansexual, queer or other transwomen. Leave lesbians alone.

          • Stop discriminating us, thank you.

  • You actually discriminate lesbians here, and me. Lesbians only are attracted to females. Not bio males, not penises, not transwomen. If you cannot handle these facts, that is your problem. But its discrimination of lesbians to say we are, should be attracted to non female people. That is bigotry to lesbians and hate speech.

  • In sum. youre being homophobic. Which is illegal.

  • Lesbians do NOT wish to include transwomen sexually, we oppose it vehemently. Its transwomen demanding we reconsider and be included. WE dont want it, we dont want to have these conversations. So go away. Youre a bigot.

  • You can date bi sexual women or pansexual women. Date eachother you are real women after, two transwomen make a perfect lesbian relationship.

  • No one and I mean no one should be forced into being with anyone they aren’t attracted to ever. I’m sorry you had some bad experiences. I have a lot of transport friends. They don’t want to be in places where they aren’t accepted. If a woman say no thanks I’m not attracted to you they’ll back off. Most transfer women are like that. There’s a small minority giving the rest a bad name same as there’s a small group of gender critical women giving the rest of feminism a bad name. I can’t stress this enough. No one should be forced into anything. That’s not right in any way

    • That minority isnt so small. Did you know actual lesbian spaces are disappearing b/c of the trans/queers lesbophobes demanding access? I talk with these lesbians, from around the world. Many have to go underground again so they can meet with lesbians only. You should educate yourself a bit more. You sound like a true homophobic bigot.

  • They do leave you alone of they get a no. Seriously. Besides I doubt any of them would want to go near you. Just as straight women aren’t interested in bi or lesbian women like you and I are. Yet that doesn’t stop a lot of lesbian women from trying. Leave straight women alone. Otherwise you’re committing a violent act against them. I’m only interested in bio women. How exactly am I a lesbophobe?

  • Hostility from straight dudes- that are starting to feel threatened. And when they feel threatened, they make sure everyone knows it. More and more lesbians are ‘hot’; and guys don’t like it- if they’re not a part of it. That’s what it is- and everyone knows it! And the reason why more lesbians are being ‘targeted’ by nutjobs! They’re more visible. With visibility comes everything else that goes with it! You have to be STRONG to be a lesbian in, what still is, a man’s world. NOT ‘Bi’- but a REAL lesbian.

  • Queer culture erased lesbian culture as they are larger in number and don’t care about keeping lesbian spaces for lesbians only.

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