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Lesbian Community: Leaping La Crosse Newsletter

No Date. No Negative. University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Photograph Collection, UWL: Activities-Music. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, La Crosse, WI.

> Location: University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Area Research Center
> Citation: Leaping La Crosse News, 1979-2007. Murphy Library Digital Collections. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin. 


Collection Summary

This Friendly Finding Aid is on Leaping La Crosse News, a monthly newsletter for the lesbian community in La Crosse that ran from 1980-2007. Although the focus of this newsletter is the lesbian community, it also addresses issues important to the whole LGBTQ community in La Crosse as well. One of the great things about this collection is that it is all accessible online! (Directions to find the online collection are listed below.)

Jill Davey was the original founder of the newsletter which was initially called NLFO News, which stood for “National Lesbian Feminist Organization.” Out of the total 317 monthly newsletters in this collection, 15 are called NLFO News. Beginning in September 1981, the newsletter was renamed Leaping La Crosse News.

La Crosse’s lesbian community used Leaping La Crosse News to learn about all kinds of news and social events not only in the La Crosse area but throughout the United States as well. The newsletters’ articles were designed to strengthen the lesbian community by making previously unknown or hard-to-find information accessible. It was safe, positive, and encouraging during a time when many gay people were afraid to be honest about their sexuality.

This finding aid will focus on women’s music and the importance it had in helping the lesbian community comfortably be themselves and bond. If music isn’t your thing, there are a number of different narratives available. Simply pick a topic that interests you.


Collection Description

Newsletters containing the phrase “music festivals” appear below. They include descriptions of specific music festivals, interviews with women’s music artists, first hand experiences attending music festivals, and more! The following are sorted into four categories: 1) Local Music Events; 2) National Music Events; 3) Individual artist Insights; and 4) Impact on the Gay and Lesbian Community. Online the issues are organized by year, month, and date. The year is always listed first, the month second, and the date last. For example, 1982-11-01 would be November 1st, 1982.


Local Music Events

See how local places in La Crosse, like UW-L, held women’s music performances, which allowed for the local lesbian community to come together. Also, see the bottom of page one to read a potluck advertisement. This was another way that the gay community bonded and came together in a safe and fun fashion.

There is an entire page on Gayle Marie, who played at an event at UW-L. Notice how big of a deal it was having a women’s music performance come to La Crosse to promote the lesbian community.


National Music Events

This addition of the newsletter describes what the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is about and where it takes place. (Notice that the word men is removed from the spelling of womyn.) In the third paragraph see how the directions show a genuine care and concern for each other. This all promotes a sense of togetherness in the lesbian community.

1991-05-01 (Volume: 11 Issue: 5)
Take a look at how the newsletter is promoting the National Women’s Music Festival by listing events other than just live stage performances. The newsletter recognized music festivals as a way for lesbians to connect with other lesbians in the community in a safe and social setting.

1992-09-01 (Volume: 12 Issue: 9)
This is a two-page review of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival from a woman who was actually in attendance! Notice the intimate and emotional connections the women have while at the music festival. The sense of community and togetherness really comes out in this newsletter.

1993-05-01 (Volume: 13 Issue: 5)
In the right column, see how large the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is and its range of events. The whole goal of music festivals is to promote togetherness within the lesbian community and they are showing just that in this section of the newsletter.

1996-06-01 (Volume: 16 Issue: 6)
Notice in the third paragraph the attendance and the size of the music grounds for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. This goes to show how large the music festivals were and the impact music festivals had on the lesbian community.


Individual artist Insights

Here is an article on “Musica Femina” a women’s music duo of Kristen Aspen and Janna MacAuslan. Read the whole page to get a peek at who they are and their role in women’s music. Here you get a bit more depth into the importance of women’s music.

Read the whole page to get a glimpse of how two musicians think they impact the lesbian community.


Impact on the Gay and Lesbian Community

Take a look at the first three paragraphs. See how they mention what the early newsletter was like and how the new newsletter, “I Know You Know: Lesbian Views and News”, is put together. This newsletter is sharing a new magazine with its followers to hopefully further grow the gay community.

Read the first four paragraphs to discover a problem with the women’s music industry. Artists don’t know how to spread their music broadly while keeping their message to the lesbian community alive. The lesbian community wants to reach as many people as possible, but at the same time want to keep their message their own.

This newsletter shows the struggles women’s music artists had to go through during this time in history. Most of the newsletters touch on the positives, but this newsletter is a reminder of the difficulties gay communities faced in the 1980s.

1991-01-01 (Volume: 11 Issue: 1)
Read the short paragraph and notice how cool it was having an almanac on gay and lesbian events. We are seeing the gay community become more comfortable.

1999-06-01 (Volume: 19 Issue: 6)
The promotion of “After Stonewall” on PBS is being talked about. Notice the significance Stonewall still had in the gay community nearly 30 some years later. What happened at the Stonewall Bar in New York City in 1969 was one turning point in gay rights.


Reviewed by: Jack Smalley