Hot Summer Hiatus


I give thanks for the rain that has gently fallen on the Valley this morning while I attempt to dance my heart open.

I will be taking a blog break for the rest of July and all of August to step outside the timeline unfolding in FW2W.  Thank you other bloggers who have allowed me to repost your work here in the past weeks.The deep feelings touched off by the relentless recent murders  bring  remembrance and reflection on Northampton’s history that I will need time to fully experience and attempt to put  into  coherent form as some more urgent work gets done.

One image that has risen in my memory’s eye is that of the first census of Northampton, ordered by the King of England, a handwritten list that numbers, but does not name, the slaves who were owned here. From the very beginning of the town. And I recall a line out of the town’s first history describing popular amusements, which included dances to the fiddle playing of a slave loaned out for the occasion.

And even as I’m dancing out my grief this week I find my hands reaching out to other dancers I know are there, in Orlando particularly. Understanding anew how precious the dance is, as expressive relief and as an invocation of love.  Recalling that tiny, grimey pink stuccoed bar in N’hamp where lesbians in the mid-70s claimed a backroom to do that  dance, and were met with violence.  And seeing too, how the refusal to quit becoming visible led to more violence on the streets of Northampton, but also birthed a radical coalition of progressive people willing to march down Main Street in support of lesbians and gays. A coalition that recognized the commonality of our oppression and our collective power.

217C N. Main-1

I’m Gay and This Is Why You Should Care

hey! intersectionality? a word we need to learn and live


I don’t write often on here about my sexual orientation because this blog focuses on my journeys through African American food history.  I came out when I was 16 years old in my school newspaper, and I was scared but I was ready to stand up for being who I was.  

Wow…I’ve been out for 23 years….

Over the years I waxed and waned in how open I was about my orientation because frankly there were people around whom it wasn’t particularly safe to be honest about who I was.  But this is a moment where the word irrevocable is in order. I will never do that dance again to accommodate the weak sensibilities based on prejudice.  Prejudice it has been said, is nothing more than an emotional commitment to ignorance.  If you know anything about my work, I can’t countenance that.  For the most part I have spent…

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Thoughts from Judith on Orlando and the importance of the dance

Looking Back

Events in Orlando have left me stunned and hurting. One of my favorite things about being a lesbian has always been going out to dance. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to dance, and I had dancing in my soul.

When I lived at the woman’s retreat in the Adirondacks, every Saturday night I would be the first one out to our barn to fire up the heater and lay a fire in the stove … and crank up the music on the jukebox. I learned to do the bump there, listening to Carole King’s Smackwater Jack. Before my knees went south.

There were my favorites – LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade, Carly Simon & James Taylor’s rendition of Mockingbird, TSOP, Imagination, Boogie Shoes, Ladies Night, Bennie & the Jetts, Ring You’re Sixteen and Oh, My My. For slow dancing, we had two of my favorites, Barbra Streisand’s singing of “Memories” and Gladys…

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News of fromwickedtowedded


My intrepid writing coach just came home from a month in a castle in Scotland and kept applauding  yesterday as I updated her on the last ten weeks in the life of this little fw2w blog. Much, beyond the most visible appearance of five new blogposts, has occurred_ none of it anticipated, and she thought some of you might be interested in knowing of these inner happenings.

Hampshire Bookshop at the top of Crafts Avenue (Courtesy Historic Northampton)

This is the last week to see in person the Hampshire Bookshop exhibit at Smith College. The display in the Mortimer Rare Bookroom of Neilsen Library closes at the end of February. It was a delight to be able to look at photos of Marion Dodd and others as well as publications of the Shop that I had only read about.  A visit here would combine well with a look at the Kathe Kollwitz exhibit at Smith’s Art Museum. Free parking is usually found along Elm Street.

I say “see in person” because this HBS exhibit is going to be digitized and made available online. It was in regards to this, a request for permission to publish from Smith Library, that I learned that fromwickedtowedded has been included in the show, printouts of the blog post on the HBS displayed as examples of its “Legacy” alongside photos of the Hestia Mural downtown that includes HBS founder Marion Dodd.

Thanks to Mt. Holyoke archivist Debbie Richards regular retweeting of the blog posts to LGBT archivists the post “Intro to the 1970s” reached Dyke, a Quarterly, which reposted it, generating some discussion, new following, and record “views.” Artemis Crow commented, “As queer space becomes increasingly hostile to lesbians, these old lessons on how we organized on our own become so much more valuable.” That fw2w post was also included by editor Judith Sara in the December 2015 online issue of the Valley OLOC newsletter. Thematically focused on Lesbian Herstory, the OLOC newsletter also included info about the blog and a photo and article about Green Street by Kathy SanAntonio.

arson confirmedheadline

On the research front, I found a story about a Springfield gay bar owner who had to go to the emergency room to get eighteen stitches in his arm because he tried to break up an argument in the bar and got attacked with a nail file. Local restauranting historian Jan Whitaker  responded to fw2w’s request for more information on the Springfield bars with a lot of data she found on GenealogyBank, a searchable database that includes the archives of the Springfield newspapers. Thanks to her encouragement I subscribed to this service, handy for those of us with no academic database access, and have been researching news coverage of  the bombing of a Springfield gay bar. I also learned who to contact to (successfully) obtain permission to republish the very first news coverage of the Gay Movement in the Valley.

dojo flyer 1977

More recently, the blog Only in Northampton posted a flyer for the Nutcracker Suite, a 70s lesbian enterprise, asking for information on behalf of a friend of a friend. An out-of-state professor (who has a double-focused doctorate in what we used to call women’s studies and phys. ed.!) is interested in 70s feminism and its connection to women’s self-defense and martial arts. I’ve shared with her the factual chronology I have on this and forwarded her query letter to those I know were part of that history. If you or anyone you know was part of the Nutcracker, student or teacher, please let me know so I can pass on more info to you and the professor, including how she may contact you if you wish.

This little flurry of first time audience feedback, connection with other enthusiasts and the accomplishment of some new publishing procedures has been very exciting and affirming. Did I say surprisingly gratifying? Back to regular posts soon. Coming next;  “T” Is For…