Protests, Parades and Potlucks: The Lesbian Mothers Defence Fund

This interview explores the important role the LMDF played in the 1980s, supporting lesbian mothers who faced systemic discrimination in all aspects of their lives.

Threatened with losing custody of their children,  the LMDF provided a range of essential community care, financial and legal support, as well as a visible presence in the media and through their newsletter, The Grapevine. In the interview, Francie, a founder of LMDF provides an understanding of the LMDF’s analysis of women’s unpaid labour in the home and argues that if that work was recognized and paid, women would have more independence and therefore have a broader range of choices in their lives. For lesbian mothers specifically, this meant being trapped in heterosexual marriages they couldn’t afford to leave. She goes on to explain that in the 1980s when there wasn’t across the board support for lesbian mothers in the feminist or gay movements, the LMDF helped create important new narratives of LGBTQ families.

Jeanne, an activist within LMDF talks about her experience working to support lesbian mothers, during a more conservative time, when lesbians were considered unfit mothers by the courts and at a time when progressive social movements were sometimes lukewarm at best in their support. She brings to light the various ways that the organization sought out and supported lesbian mothers. Potlucks, meetings, media coverage, a newsletter, the LMDF engaged in a range of activities to support members and always seeking more. 

Her daughter, Velvet speaks about what it was like to be a kid who went to the meetings, the marches, and the potlucks, hanging out with the other kids. Velvet felt joy, love and pride in being at LMDF events and remarks on how courageous her mother and other women were in the face of everyday discrimination. 

With Velvet and Jeanne Lacasse, Francie Wyland

Interviewed by Rachel Epstein

Thank you…

This project has been made possible in part by Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program.