My Work & Writing

Books by me and anthologies that I have edited or in which my work has been included.

Essay “L.A. Pride 1970,” In Search of Stonewall

Cover of book, "In Search of STONEWALL
The Riots at 50 The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25"


Essay “L.A. Pride 1970,” in In Search of STONEWALL The Riots at 50 The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25 Best Essays, 1994-2018

The year was 1994. It was the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and, as luck would have it, the year in which a new magazine called The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review was publishing its first issue (Winter ’94).* The fact that The G&LR’s first year coincided with Stonewall’s 25th forever joined its fate with that of the founding event of the modern LGBT movement. This book commemorates the magazine’s 25th birthday with a collection of relevant articles selected from its 136 issues. “The riots that followed the 1969 raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York and the New York Gay Liberation Front that emerged from those riots were the opening salvos of a militant gay revolution.” 

“Gay In III,” in Art After Stonewall Essay

Gays Marching in parade.

Columbus Museum of Art (CMOA)  February 14, 2020 – May 17, 2020 

Art After Stonewall  highlights a wide array of conceptual, performance, film, and video art, as well as photography, painting, sculpture, music, along with historical documents and images taken from magazines, newspapers and television.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated 300-page catalogue with essays by more than 20 established and emerging scholars as well as entries by artists, including Andrew Durbin, Harmony Hammond, Lyle Ashton-Harris, William E. Jones, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Richard Meyer, Flavia Rando, Alpesh Patel, Christopher Reed, Chris Vargas, and Margaret Vendryes.

 [Image: Leonard Fink, “Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera at Gay Pride Parade,” 1973. CMOA]  

Tales Of The Lavender Menace: A Memoir Of Liberation

Cover of book, "Tales Of The Lavender Menace: A Memoir Of Liberation"

 Tales Of The Lavender Menace: A Memoir Of Liberation 

Basic Books 1999.  Book Club Edition: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1999


New York Times Best Book of 2000

Karla Jay's memoir of an age whose tumultuous social and political movements fundamentally reshaped American culture takes readers from her early days in the 1968 Columbia University student riots to her post-college involvement in New York radical women's groups and the New York Gay Liberation Front. In Southern California in the early 70s, she continued in the battle for gay civil rights and helped to organize the takeover of "The Ladies' Home Journal" and "ogle-in" - where women staked out Wall Street and whistled at the men. 

 “Men, gay and straight, see what Karla Jay has lived and written!  Here was a time when extraordinary brave women decided to change the wicked world and did it.  Now one of the best of these has given us a rare and marvelous gift:  a glorious guide to the perplexed seeking the complex, a history that illuminates a way out of passivity and despair.”

—Tony Kushner  

Editor, Dyke Life

Cover of book, "Dyke Life"

Dyke Life:  From Growing Up to Growing Old -- A Celebration of the Lesbian Experience

New York:  Basic Books, 1995; Pandora (UK), 1996; Rivers Oram (UK), 1997

 Winner, Best Lesbian Studies Book

1996, Lambda Literary Awards


 Written by lesbians of different ages, races and religions—and compiled by one of the gay movement's best-known writers and activists—these original essays give vibrant voice to the diversity of the lesbian experience. Celebrating the many ways in which the lesbian experience is unique from all others, many of these pieces focus on specific lesbian concerns such as sexual practices, raising children and higher incidence of certain illnesses.Beyond pointing out these differences, the essays also provide a comprehensive view of the many phases of lesbian life by covering diverse topics like body piercing, coming out and work. Short narratives—“To Mother or Not to Mother,” “Confessions of a Lesbian Vampire,” “About Being an Old Lesbian in Love,” and more—complement and enrich the main essays, adding a unique personal tone to the collection. A mix of the serious and the irreverent, Dyke Life is an important contribution to gay and lesbian literature. 

Editor, Lesbian Erotics

Cover of book, "Lesbian Erotics"

Lesbian Erotics  

New York: New York University Press, 1995  

 This work, as Karla Jay writes in the introduction, invites readers to consider the implications, variations, and complexities of lesbian erotics. In the end, it is our sexual lives that mark us as outlaws. Therefore, we need to investigate and engage representations of our sexuality to define for ourselves, if we so choose, the scope, shape, and permutations of lesbian erotics. 

 Lesbian Erotics is the first anthology to investigate the cultural production of sexually charged images of lesbians in film, law, literature, and popular culture in general. The contributors address an enormous range of sexualities and fora in which these sexualities flourish. In her chapter, Not Tonight, Dear, I'm Deconstructing a Headache: Confessions of a Lesbian Sex Therapist, Marny Hall illustrates how difficult some women find it to maintain erotic tension in lesbian relationships. Elizabeth Meese grapples with increasingly complex sexual identities in cyberspace. Kitty Tsui, cover model for On Our Backs, relays how she developed her own body into an art form in order to combat stereotypes of passive and invisible Asian women. 

Co-Editor, Lavender Culture

Cover of book, "Lavender Culture"

Lavender Culture

(The Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life and Literature Series)

Co-editor (with Allen Young). 

 New York: Jove, 1978; rpt. New York; New York University Press, 1994.


The influence of gays and lesbians on language, literature, theater, poetry, dance, music, and the arts is unmeasurable. In the era before AIDS, gay and lesbian culture had a defining, if unrecognized, influence on American life, an influence that is only now being acknowledged.

This reissue of the classic anthology, Lavender Culture, serves as a provocative, dynamic, and wide-ranging reminder of American gay and lesbian culture in the days before the status of gay people received widespread attention in the media, religion, and politics, before Newsweek saw it fit to feature a cover story on LESBIANS, and before gays and lesbians took center stage in America's cultural landscape.

Here we find the young, assertive voices of such activists, authors, and artists as Rita Mae Brown, Barbara Grier, John Stoltenberg, Julia Penelope, Andrea Dworkin, Andrew Kopkind, Jane Rule, Arthur Bell, Charlotte Bunche, and dozens more. Including essays on such diverse subjects as gay bath houses, the gay male image in classical ballet, images of gays in rock music, Judy Garland, lesbian humor, sports and machismo, the growing business of women's music, and the Cleveland bar scene in the 1940s, Lavender Culture, with new introductory essays by the editors and Cindy Patton, offers a panoply of gay and lesbian life, tracing the current influence and visibility of gay and lesbian culture back to its origins.

Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation

Cover of "Out of the Closets"

Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation

NYU Press, 1992

Filled with Joyous self-affirmation, angry manifestos, and searching personal reflections, this classic work provides a close look at the individuals and ideologies of this important social movement. In the tradition of Sisterhood is Powerful, Out of the Closets presents , in their own words, the views, values attitudes, aspirations, and circumstances of the early generation of gay and lesbian liberationists. Highlighting both how much and how little has changed since Stonewall, this work is essential reading for anyone concerned with the history of sexuality and the legal and social status of lesbians and gays in contemporary America. 

Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions

Filled with Joyous self-affirmation, angry manifestos, and searching personal reflections, this clas

Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions

Series: Feminist Crosscurrents, NYU Press, 1990

Lesbian writers include some of the most innovative and adventurous writers of this century, but only recently have they been given their due attention in terms of critical study. This book is the first anthology to discuss the subject of lesbianism as it relates to the critical interaction among readers, writers, and literary critics. It explores lesbian texts in terms of identification, meaning, and interpretation, and examines the complex entanglements of identity, voice, intersubjectivity, textualities, and sexualities.

"A wonderful exploration of the varieties of life choices lesbians can and do make. This book once again proves that telling the truth aboutyourself is a revolutionary act."
—Rita Mae Brown

"They will probably drum Karla Jay and Joanne Glasgow out of the academy for this one...A college text that is witty, literate, interesting, and can be read for fun. What's the world coming to? Lesbian Texts and Contexts: dry title, wonderful book."
—Barbara Grier, Editor Naiad Press