Finalist for the 2021 Lambda Literary Awards


On September 23, 1970, a group of antiwar activists staged a robbery at a bank in Massachusetts, during which a police officer was killed. While the three men who participated in the robbery were soon apprehended, two women escaped and became fugitives on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, eventually landing in a lesbian collective in Lexington, Kentucky, during the summer of 1974. In pursuit, the FBI launched a massive dragnet. Five lesbian women and one gay man ended up in jail for refusing to cooperate with federal officials, whom they saw as invading their lives and community. Dubbed the Lexington Six, the group's resistance attracted national attention, inspiring a nationwide movement in other minority communities. Like the iconic Stonewall demonstrations, this gripping story of spirited defiance has special resonance in today's America.

Drawing on transcripts of the judicial hearings, contemporaneous newspaper accounts, hundreds of pages of FBI files released to the author under the Freedom of Information Act, and interviews with many of the participants, Josephine Donovan reconstructs this fascinating, untold story. The Lexington Six is a vital addition to LGBTQ, feminist, and radical American history.


"Donovan’s book supports the fleshing out of a more multi-dimensional history that contributes to an ongoing reorientation of queer politics today. The book highlights the historical connections between the Lexington Six, a group of young white people embedded in a white lesbian community, and Native American, Latinx, and Black grand jury resistance movements across the country."—Women's Review of Books

"Josephine Donovan's intimate chronicle of why five lesbians and one gay man went innocently to jail rather than collaborate with a corrupt FBI is an essential story of 1970s America that relates to today's contests of privacy and power."—Carol Mason, author of Reading Appalachia from Left to Right: Conservatives and the 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy

"Through telling this harrowing story, Donovan introduces readers to the era's stark political and legal realities. She reviews the significant connections made among a variety of forces that fought against Grand Jury abuses, from lesbian feminist groups and newspapers, grassroots organizations and networks, and national entities such as the National Lawyers Guild and Center for Constitutional Rights."—Marcia M. Gallo, author of Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement

The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America

  • University of Masschusetts Press 2020

    New paperback

    272 pages