Black WLW Blues

Ma Rain – Prove It On Me Blues

Notable lyrics:

Went out last night a crowd of my friends,

They must’ve been women, ‘cause I don’t like no men…

They say I did it, ‘nobody caught me,

They sure got to prove it on me

It’s true I wear a collar and a tie

George Hannah – The Boy in the Boat

Notable lyrics:

When you see two men walking hand in hand.

Just look ‘em over and try to understand. 

They’ll go to these parties have their lights down low. 

Only those parties were women can go. 

You think I’m lying, just ask Tack Anne. 

Took many a broad from many a man.

Bessie Jackson/Lucille Bogan – B.D. (Bulldyke) Women’s Blues

Notable lyrics:

Comin’ a time, BD Women, they ain’t goin’ to need no men.

Oh, the way they treat us is a low down and dirty thing.

Capturing the complex attitudes regarding female homosexual relations in music is no easy task. In 1920s Harlem, Blues echoed the era’s and the sophisticated Harlemites sentiments on wlw relations.

The blues songs sought to be obvious about the lesbianism, titillate their listeners, and reach a wide audience through humour: 

I know women that don’t like men.

The way they do is a crying sin.

It’s dirty but good, oh yes, it’s just dirty but good.

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 As you can see/hear, these artists were successful in their endeavours. Presenting lesbian stereotypes allowed the listeners recognize the situations and sexual daring, to either find them affirming (if wlw) or provocative and humorous. In fact, Historians describe one lesbian song “BD’s Dream” as one of the most heard songs in rent parties in the 1920s and 1930s.

Source: Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman, and (x).