Chenier - Rethinking Class in Lesbian Bar Culture.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
University College Courses
Scott Rayter

- It’s important to consider the intersection of race and class when examining lesbian history - One of the only places where lesbians were visible in the 50s and 60s was in public bars - Butch and fem roles were a definitive feature of post-World War II working-class lesbian culture, and sociability was tied to a complex set of friendship networks that divided women as much as they united them - In Toronto, women whose lives centered on the Continental Hotel were referred to as downtowners, and people who lived in the suburbs or outside of downtown were called uptowners - Uptowners were careful to separate their “gay lives” from their family and working lives - Downtowners lived the gay life 24/7 - These groups were mostly separate, even though there were occasionally people who dated across lines and most downtowners started out as uptowners - Downtowners were directly and indirectly involved in a lot of criminalized socio-economic activities which occurred in
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