Thursday, February 16, 2017
When We Were Outlaws (Ch1-18) Response
Jeanne Cordova’s When We Were Outlaws is a beautifully written piece that blends personal struggle with the political and social turmoil of the 1970’s. Like many of her contemporaries, Cordova left home in her late teens when she could no longer hide her sexual identity from her conservative parents. As she explains, replacing her lost family with a chosen “family” of sister-dykes and compatible gay men was a practical and emotional necessity. She describes a “gay” community in the process of inventing itself, before the term LGBT+ was a real entity. Cordova is an activist at heart and I think from a very early age knew that she was able to rally towards a common good regardless of the struggles she could face- be it backlash from society or her family. In the second chapter we see the personal struggle of the authors affair with Rachel and the feeling of comraderie that encompassed their meeting. What is fitting is that they met the Women’s Building in Los Angeles awaiting to hear a speak from Angela Davis. Cordova continues, that while their first kiss happened in public the only support that she felt was from that immediate gay activist community. The family that kicked her out when she was 19 was no longer there to share in her happiness or guide her in times of hardship. It is heartbreaking how such a force of activism and passion could stand on it’s own. However, what I think allowed Cordova to be strong and hold her ground was her sense of purpose writing for Daughters of Bilitis and eventually starting The Lesbian Tide Newsletter, serving as editor and publisher. Like many of my classmates have pointed out, Cordova is able to navigate the changing time of sex politics and make it into a time of professional and personal growth for herself-that search for balance (enjoyment and purpose) I think are so present in the gay community and need to be understood and valued.