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  • Marci Hilt

The Furies Collective House

April’s Women of Ward 6 is the Furies Collective house, a row house at 219 11th Street SE. This house is directly connected with the early expression of the character, role and ideology of the lesbian community as a social and political community in the 1970s. The house became the operational center of The Furies, a lesbian feminist separatist collective, which between 1971 and 1973 led the debate over lesbians’ place in society.

The DC Historic Preservation Review Board designated the house a historic landmark in 2016.

The Ward 6 Democrats are recognizing and honoring Ward 6 women who have made significant contributions to our community for the 2020 anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The Furies house became the first lesbian-related location designated as a DC historic landmark. The lesbian separatist Furies Collective was based in this house between the fall of 1971 and the summer of 1973.

The building was the operational center of the 12-woman collective of writers and artists and the birthplace of the early feminist publication The Furies. The 12 women in the collective published a lesbian feminist edition of motive magazine, a youth magazine of the United Methodist Church, as well as the tabloid-size newspaper called The Furies. The Furies newspaper addressed major questions of women’s identity and women’s relationships with other women, with men and with society at large. Together, The Furies and motive set the issues and agenda of lesbian and feminist discussion for many years to come.

In a 2015 book, The Gay Revolution, author Lillian Faderman said the group’s name was a reference to “the tree Greek goddesses with blood-red eyes and snakes for hair,” who took vengeance on mother-murdering Orestes by driving him crazy. In the first issue, Ginny Berson wrote: “We call our paper The Furies because are also angry. We are angry because we are oppressed by male supremacy. We have been fucked over all our lives by a system which is based on the domination of men over women … We are working to change this system, which has kept us separate and powerless for so long.”

The 12 women didn’t just work as a collective, they also cohabited, along with three children, in three separate spaces, one of which was the 11th Street row house.

The collective’s publication “inspired thousands of lesbian feminists to form their own collectives in cities, farms, forests and mountains all over America and in Europe, too,” according to Faderman.

When Robert Pohl and his wife moved into the house at 219 11th Street SE, Pohl did a Google search to find out if there was anything special about the house. He immediately found information from a local LGBT organization that named his new home as the operational center and main residence for a small lesbian feminist collective. He continued researching the house and the history search made him transition from his career as a computer programmer to a tour guide, historian and writer.

The Furies Collective House became an historic landmark in 2016.

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