Cohen, Leslie. “The Audacity of a Kiss: Love, Art, and Liberation”, Rutgers University Press, 2021,
There Was a Time
In her beautiful memoir, “The Audacity of a Kiss: Love, Art, and Liberation”, LeslieCohen shares her fifty year love story and takes us back to a time when things were very different. Our LGBT community had few places where we could feel safe and protected. Reading Cohen’s personal struggles and the accomplishments as a member of New York’s gay and feminist communities reminds us of just how far we have come. In 1976, she co-founded the women’s nightclub Sahara where women such as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Pat Benatar, Ntozake Shange, Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Patti Smith, Bella Abzug, and Jane Fonda met and strategized as they looked for ways to overcome the oppression that was forced upon them,
Cohen writes about her relationship with Beth Suskin, the beginning of Sahara and the importance of a life filled with art and love. As she shares her memories of the Sahara, we revisit a New York that was very different and we actually feel what it must have been like to enter the place and feeling the possibilities of what could happen there. This is also a love story and a tale of courage and bravery. I was so reminded of the first time I went to a gay bar filled with anticipation and trepidation and then leaving. Feeling like I had finally found a place where I could be at “home”.
Cohen’s prose is honest and beautiful and many of us will find ourselves in her words. I love that past histories are finally being published and that these wonderful stories are being recorded forever. We can never allow our past to be forgotten and it is because of people like Leslie Cohen that we are able to live as we do today. The strongest message for me here is to once again see that liberation comes from both within and without.