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Persistence and Existence: LGBTQ History at Mount Holyoke College

Libertad, Freedom

In the spring of 1990, the first issue of Libertad came into being. Libertad was a publication that was specifically "a space in which the so called 'minorities,' the people who are constantly being silenced, diminished or ignored in an indirect or direct way, can feel free to speak, a space which can offer them support." The format of the publication was usually a small literary magazine, comprised of submissions ranging in topic from violence against women to racism in the LGBTQ community. All the contributors published with their names to "finish with the censorship" that the editors saw in writing anonymously. One of the poems, entitled "Self-Love or I Love Myself When I am Laughing and When I am Eating Pussy," received a lot of pushback from other students. Mita Radhakrishnan, the author, wrote candidly about sex with women and people got angry. A Mount Holyoke News letter published in response to the poem said, "I just can't believe that you take pride in writing something like this. I am a heterosexual and I don't have to resort to publishing my sexual activities in order to feel better about myself." 

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A call for submissions for Libertad, 1990. [Click on photograph for full image and more information.]

The editor in chief at the time, Andrea Calderon, supported the inclusion of that poem "because oppressed people do two things when they write." 

"We address our oppressors about ending our oppression. We educate, we placate. We act as diplomats.

"We also write, create, laugh to empower ourselves..this prevents us from self destruction from the pain of our oppression. This allows us joy in the midst of hatred.

 

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An issue of Libertad, circa 1991 [Click image to read the full issue]