Bridget Klein

Bridget Klein, a white Deaf lesbian woman, grew up on a small family farm in Wisconsin where she had plenty of land to roam. She would run through fields of corn, or idly sit by the pond. Eventually, Klein attended high school two hours away in Madison, where the closest Deaf program was located. As a more open-minded liberal bastion in Wisconsin, Madison allowed Klein to feel comfortable enough to come out as a lesbian in high school. She also acknowledges her gratitude to the feminist bookstores, lesbian bars, and lesbian variety shows that provided access to Deaf women via interpreted events, as well as the Madison Pride Festival and the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Now 20 years later, all of these opportunities for lesbians are gone. This idea is explained further in the book “The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture” by Bonnie Morris.

Klein notes that she has always loved Madeline Davis’ quote: “[Gays] have a past but no history.” Young LBGTQ+ people don’t grow up studying the history of their community; they must instead seek it out. Klein has been exploring the life stories and experiences of Deaf lesbians who are over 60 years old in the United States, from 1960 to today. Her interest lies in what their lives were like before specific civil rights movement milestones affecting Deaf lesbians were achieved, such as the second wave of the women's liberation movement, the publication of the American Sign Language dictionary, the recognition of ASL as a legitimate language and the activism surrounding Stonewall. Because these experiences have been overlooked and neglected, Klein’s research goal is to bring those narratives to light.

In Klein’s artwork, she keeps her focus on a woman loving another woman in a positive way. Often in the media, gender roles are emphasized, “teaching” people to develop specific attitudes toward roles, rights and responsibilities of women in society, ranging from women’s body images to “appropriate” career choices for women. These expectations extend to women’s sexuality, which Klein tries to disrupt in her artwork, breaking with a broader ideology around women’s bodies and the pleasure shared during lovemaking. Klein often seeks to emphasize a woman’s moments with her own body and her ability to share her experience with another woman that she loves.