Sex, History And Lesbian Outlaws

BY Advocate Contributors

December 03 2011 9:29 AM ET

Jeanne Cordova WHEN WE WERE OUTLAWS X200 | ADVOCATE.COM | ADVOCATE.COM

When We Were Outlaws also tells the story of the first national
gay strike, when lesbians — joined by the Effeminists (a group of anti-sexist
men from the Gay Liberation Front who focused their energies on feminist
activism)   — struck the young
Los Angeles Gay Community Service Center after the Center's male board of
directors fired 16 employees, with no warning, simply because the employees
supported the concept that lesbians as well as gay men should be on the board
of directors. This famous struggle brought Jeanne into conflict with the most
powerful gay man in Los Angeles, Morris Kight, the leader of the city’s gay
movement, founder of the Center, and Cordova’s mentor. Knight was a man she
considered her “political godfather.”

What makes the memoir so
compelling is that it is also a love story, a beautiful and sometimes tragic
tale about Jeanne's coming to terms with the first great love of her life,
Rachel—alongside of her concomitant dedication to a fledgling concept, a
lesbian and gay civil rights movement, in which she was becoming a leader. This
sweeping memoir depicts a young activist torn between her personal life and
political goals. One of the unusual things
about her writing is the vivid way she brings scenes alive with dialogue. They
are like overhearing conversations with friends, lovers, and other famous
activists.

Cordova was a journalist,
an activist, and a lover who, like others in her generation, believed, that
polyamory and non-monogamous relationships could work. She has the courage to
open up her private life, the strengths and weaknesses, internal pains, and
mistakes that took her to dark places — and her expert writing ability takes us
every step along the way.

This book, novelized
non-fiction, is a major literary accomplishment. It should cross over into the
mainstream because it is takes place at the nexus of the New Left, women's
liberation, gay liberation, and the lesbian feminist movements — a seldom
written about time period, and an intersection that embroiled hundreds of
thousands of Americans.

And of course everyone
wants to read a great love story.

Cordova has written two
previous books (Kicking The Habit, and Sexism; It’s a Nasty Affair) and her essays have appeared in numerous
award-winning LBGTQ anthologies, such as Lesbian Nuns, Breaking the Silence,
and The
Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader.

 

 

ROBIN
TYLER produced the main stages of the first three National LGBT Marches
on Washington, 25 Women's Music and Comedy Festivals,

and along with her wife, Diane Olson, was the first lesbian plaintiff in
the lawsuit that brought marriage equality to California.


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