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The Lavender Menace: The Unexpected LGBTQ+ History of Lesbians and Lavender

The Lavender Menace

The Lavender Menace

The Unexpected LGBTQ+ History of Lesbians & Lavender

With Pride Month in full bloom, we at DEEP DRIP wanted to talk about a bit of flower related LGBTQ+ history with a plant you’re probably familiar with!

“The Lavender Menace” was first used in the late 60’s by Betty Friedan, the then president of the feminist group National Organization for Women (NOW). She was using the phrase to describe her worry that lesbian activists in the organization may hurt the movement. Lavender has long been associated with the gay community and Friedan was fearful that NOW’s association with lesbians could hinder women’s rights progress.

Action was taken on May 1, 1970. Lesbian activists from the NOW as well as members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) staged a disruption at the Second Congress to Unite Women, a speaking event in New York City. Karla Jay, a “Lavender Menace” organizer provides firsthand account details in her book Tales of the Lavender Menace.

“Just as the first speaker came to the microphone, Jesse Falstein, a GLF member, and Michela [Griffo] switched off the lights and pulled the plug on the mike… When Michela and Jesse flipped the lights back on, both aisles were lined with seventeen lesbians wearing their Lavender Menace T-shirts and holding the placards we had made.”

The lesbian organizers including Rita Mae Brown quickly won over the crowd, passed out literature, and voiced their frustrations with being excluded from the prominent women’s organizations.

Change was seen quickly the following year with NOW adding lesbian rights as one of its major issues. The Lavender Menaces are now seen as defining moment in LGBTQ+ history and monumental in linking lesbians’ rights with women’s rights.

Click here to learn more about the history of The Lavender Menaces

Want to show a bit of pride in your garden? Lavender is an easy and rewarding flower to grow with a variety of benefits. Whether you’re looking for a use for the flowers or just want a beautiful purple bloom, lavender is always a welcome addition. Check out some of its uses here!

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