“The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s” by Josephine Donovan— Five Lesbians and One Gay Man

Donovan, Josephine. :”The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s”, University of Massachusetts Press, 2020.

Five Lesbians and One Gay Man

Amos Lassen

On September 23, 1970, a group of antiwar activists staged a robbery at a bank in Massachusetts. While the staged robbery was taking place, a police officer was killed. The three men who participated in the robbery were soon apprehended but two women escaped and became fugitives on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, eventually landing in a lesbian collective in Lexington, Kentucky in the summer of 1974. In pursuit, the FBI launched a massive dragnet. Five lesbian women and one gay man ended up in jail for refusing to cooperate with federal officials who they saw as invading their lives and community. Dubbed the Lexington Six, the group’s resistance gained national attention and brought about a nationwide movement in other minority communities. This is the story of spirited defiance has special resonance in today’s America.

Josephine Donovan used transcripts of judicial hearings, contemporaneous newspaper accounts, FBI files released to the author under the Freedom of Information Act, and interviews with many of the participants. She has reconstructed this untold story.  The five lesbians and one gay man went innocently to jail rather than collaborate with a corrupt FBI and this is an essential story of 1970s America that the meanings of privacy and power. We see the political and legal realities of the times and become aware of Grand Jury abuses brought by lesbian feminist groups and newspapers, grassroots organizations and networks as well as such  national entities as the National Lawyers Guild and Center for Constitutional Rights.

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