There is so much history I know nothing about. This memoir provided a wild ride through the 60’s-70’s lesbian feminist/gay rights movement from a lesbian feminist perspective. The author lived through it all. She was a student at Columbia University and also spent time in California as this history was unfolding. I found it especially fascinating because I am the same age as Karla Jay. I went to Penn State University, a campus isolated in a rural county in central Pennsylvania. I wasn’t unaware, but I was hardly in the center of the ongoing protests of the 60’s and 70’s. I was just beginning to learn about sexism and its impact upon me. The subtleties of how “isms” interact was not even an idea that I was exposed to until I attended Union Theological Seminary in the late 80’s early 90’s. Tales of the Lavender Menace was published in 2000. Lots has happened since the era about which the book is written and 2000 when this book was published. Today most activists understand the complexities of intersectionality. Karla Jay lived those complexities as she simultaneously battled for the rights of lesbians and women—her own rights.
Jay, who was a key player in lesbian activism, tells a no holds barred dramatic story of her experiences as a lesbian feminist activist in a tumultuous time in history. There is plenty of drama to make this a page turning fast read. Kirkus Reviews is quoted on the back cover of her book: “Thoughtful, witty, and informative.” I agree.