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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"When We Were Outlaws" by Jeanne Córdova


Jeanne Córdova’s memoir, When We Were Outlaws, is the story of a turbulent 1975 through early 1976.  With lesbian feminists clashing with women from other movements and with the gay movement, political strife is at the heart of the memoir.  Córdova is able to capture the reader’s interest further with a tragic love story of love lost to politics.

Some of the most fascinating moments for me while reading the memoir were when intersectionality plays out in real life, often contradicting how it is presented in theory classes.  Throughout the memoir, Córdova struggles to maintain the “purity” of the gay movement.  Córdova insists during several meetings of the Defense Coalition of the Gay Feminist 11/16 that the gay movement must remain a priority over other movements, including over worker’s rights, Libertarianism, socialism, and communism.  The lack of intersectionality in the early gay movement is considered today to be one of its failings and intersectionality has become a hallmark of the modern Queer movement.  Although, I understand that there can be failings within intersectionality as well, such as the fear that queerness will become diluted with so many different causes that queer rights take a back seat, I still view intersectionality as an important part of modern Queer politics.

Questions for Jeanne Córdova:
  1. In Third Wave Feminism and the modern Queer movement, there is often an emphasis placed on intersectionality.  In your book, there were moments when you disagreed with the gay movement intersecting with another movement, such as worker’s rights.  Is this still your position? Why or why not?
  2. In When We Were Outlaws, there are moments when balancing the personal and the political became too difficult.  Have you reached that balance now?  What suggestions do you have for young activists?
  3. In recent years, you have done a lot of organizing around Butch identity.  What’s next for Butch Nation?  What issues is Butch Nation focusing on?

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