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Thursday, February 11, 2016

When We Were Outlaws - Reflection

I really like what Allie said in her last post, that in her novel, Jeanne Córdova "brings a sense of nostalgia for a time when radicalism was the norm amongst marginalized people." What stood out to me the most while reading her memoir was how willing and ready she and her comrades were to give and devote everything to their cause. The nostalgia that comes when reading is due to feeling her passion conveyed through the words on every page - a passion that is seemingly lacking nowadays. Córdova talks about the Hollywood Hills being 'a large gay closet,' explaining their drive coming from "a lifetime of hiding and sexual denial to make up for" (58). One event that stood out to me in her memoir was the march that she organized with Morris Knight. They were at first denied the right to march by the LA Police Chief, who said that "It's one thing to be a leper; it's another thing to be spreading the disease" (46). This alone was shocking to me; that a person in a position of power could get away with saying that is alarming. After they finally got the right to march, they began planning the route they would take. Reading the names of the streets they would take, Highland, Hollywood Boulevard, Vine, all streets that I've been on, brought a sense of reality to the words I was reading. As Jeanne described the march, she observed something that brought tears to her eyes, as well as mine. In the midst of the madness, she saw an elderly woman holding a sign that read: "Heterosexuals for Homosexual Freedom" (51). She noted her wish that sometime within her lifetime, gays would be free. Now living in LA, this scene made me compare the scene today versus then. I question our lack of activism. I felt that Córdova's memoir was largely based around something she said early on in the novel: "Besides, my life was about rearranging the very definition of normal...normal was not a good reason to do anything" (34). I think this is something we can all take away from the book. If we all suddenly became aware of and uncomfortable with the normal, maybe we would develop the passion that she and the generations before us possessed.

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