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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week 6: When We Were Outlaws

Week 6: When We Were Outlaws

For When we were Outlaws, I would like to focus this blog post on the parts of the book that really stood out for me. Having been both a Gender Studies and Political Science student major, I was slightly personally invested to some of the historical happenings that occurred during the timeline of Jeanne Cordova’s memoir. Additionally, I feel personally invested in this book because I once helped run tech for an event where she was among the audience (if I recall correctly.) I didn’t know much about her other than that her activism and her memoir were well known in the community. At the time I had limited knowledge on the significance of this seeing as this took place about a year ago.
To start with, though I was only a few chapters in, my interest was piqued as soon as I heard about Angela Davis’ involvement in the women’s activism back then. What struck me as interesting in particular was the fact that she didn’t equate the personal to the political. When she was asked by Cordova about whether or not she was gay, Davids quickly evaded it and basically stated that that had no place in her activism essentially. I also found it interesting how the conception of being outside of the closet was viewed as more so of a political statement in comparison to the way that I view being out of the closet. I feel like  contemporary conception of “being out of the closet” has become less of a radical thing considering how homonormative and assimilated the LGBTQ rights movement has become. This chapter was quite thought provoking.
Additionally, another chapter that struck me as interesting was the relationship that Cordova had with BeJo and her sexually liberated way of existing. Though BeJo disliked that Cordova wasn’t monogamous, she tolerated it because she valued her. This made me reflect on how now in the LGBTQ rights movement, or at least in the homonormative discourse that’s been presented, people have gotten more reserved about sexually liberated practices. Though I understand that people who have stood by respectability politics have existed even back in Cordova’s time, from my observations, I’ve noticed that LGBTQ people have sought to replicate heterosexuality and the normative sexual behaviors that have been instilled in society. Due to my involvement in part of the UCLA LGBTQ community, I’ve come to observe this and reflect on where the community is headed. 

Aside from the reflection that was brought forth from chapter two (the Angela Davis Chapter) and chapter three (the one where the relationship to BeJo is talked about) I loved how chapter four elucidates Cordova’s relationship to her father figure and how that shaped her  activism and her beliefs, while also being conflicted about his tough upbringing and conservative views on sexuality. I too also enjoyed how later on the politics of the backend of non-profits was demonstrated through the wronging of Cordova by none other than her mentor. 

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