Cover image for This is what lesbian looks like : dyke activists take on the 21st century
This is what lesbian looks like : dyke activists take on the 21st century
Kleindienst, Kris, 1953-
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Firebrand Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
278 pages : portraits ; 22 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ75.6.U5 T55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-New Non-Fiction

On Order



Twenty-six lesbian grassroots activists -- some of them household names nationally, others known only within their local communities -- help us focus on the future of our lesbian lives as we move into the next century.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Editor Kleindienst says she has been challenged and inspired by other lesbian writers and organizers whose speeches and articles "cut to the heart of what progressive political and cultural work could be." So she set out to produce a collection of some of the best contemporary lesbian thinking on a broad range of issues. She has corralled 24 writings by writer-activists, including the well-known Dorothy Allison, Victoria Brownworth, Leslie Feinberg, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Joan Nestle. Allison writes about the discrimination she has suffered, not in the "outside" world, but in the "lesbigay" community that sometimes finds her life as part of a lesbian couple living with their artificially conceived son and his gay biological father confounding and even threatening. Feinberg's contribution, "We Are All Works in Progress," from her Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue (1998), goes beyond gay liberation to the broader goal of gender liberation. Cultural sexologist Carol Queen deconstructs sex war conflicts in her scrutiny of phobias. In short, Kleindienst has succeeded in her intention. --Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 26 lesbian activists in this wandering collection are united in their dismay over the absence of a broad-based, grassroots social justice movement in the U.S. today. Lamenting a lack of political awareness among young people in particular, the authors pinpoint some of the predictable deterrents to effective organizing: internalized racism, homophobia, ageism and infighting. While they don't offer a specific blueprint for change, these sometimes meditative, sometimes earnest essays (many of which have been reprinted or adapted from other contexts) weigh how all social concerns, not just gay and lesbian ones, are fundamentally interconnected. Although editor Kleindienst's rhetorical introductions to every essay add a textbook feel, and a number of contributions suffer from pedestrian writing or familiar platitudes ("Only in unity with each other and in coalition with our allies can we move ahead to achieve our common agenda"), readers will be drawn to familiar standouts, including Dorothy Allison (who, in an essay originally published in Harper's, reflects on the hostility she encounters from the gay community when appearing in public with her straight-looking family), Joan Nestle, Urvashi Vaid and Barbara Smith (who succinctly characterizes good leadership as "humor, cooperation, reliability, humility, and kindness"). Among the appealing new voices is Surina Kahn's, as she recalls how, as a Pakistani teenager, she thought the best way to assimilate herself in America was to vote Republican. Despite the volume's hit-or-miss quality, it documents some forceful voices on everyday activism, even for those for whom "being out was all I could do." (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Kleindienst has gathered essays by a wide range of activists--Dorothy Allison, Joan Nestle, and Urvashi Vaid, as well as lesser known figures--in an effort to paint a broad picture of the lesbian movement. Kleindienst, herself an activist and the co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, includes writers who outline their activist pasts and offer "how-to" advice, and those who present theoretical pieces on issues influencing the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender movement. Essayists consider racism within the movement; the place of transgendered people in the lesbian community; queer parenting; and femme sexuality. As with most anthologies, the quality of the essays varies. Recommended for public libraries with large gay and lesbian studies collections.--Debra Moore, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Kris KleindienstDorothy AllisonVictoria BrownworthKaren Bullock-JordanLeslie CaganMandy CarterDiana CourvantLeslie FeinbergJenifer FennellJewelle Gomez and Minnie Bruce PrattShevy HealeySurina KhanDeke LawVera MartinPam McMichael and Carla WallaceJoan NestleSuzanne PharrCarol QueenSusan RaffoMattie RichardsonMarlene SchumanMab SegrestBarbara SmithUrvashi VaidCarmen Vazquez
Introductionp. 11
Mama and Mom and Dad and Sonp. 16
A Chronology of Consciousness: The Politics of Visibilityp. 24
Girls Just Want to Have Funp. 36
This Dyke's a Leftie--This Leftie Is a Dykep. 46
The Emperor's New Clothes, or How Not to Run a Movementp. 62
Strip!p. 70
We Are All Works in Progressp. 80
Changing Everything, or How to Queer the Familyp. 90
Poets Live the Questionsp. 100
One Old Lesbian's Perspectivep. 116
Color Me Whitep. 126
Evolutionp. 136
Being a Woman of Color and Surviving Racismp. 146
Who Is the "We"?p. 152
The Politics of Thinkingp. 166
Thoughts on Youthp. 174
Lesbian/Sex: About What We Do and Desire, and Its Relation to Community and Identity (or, How I Learned to Love the Sex Wars)p. 182
Moving Between Fool and Freedom: The Ego of Activismp. 192
What You See Is What You Get: Building a Movement Toward Liberation in the Twenty-First Centuryp. 210
Reclamationsp. 220
Hawai'ian Sovereignty/Gay Marriage: Ka Huliaup. 230
Doing It From Scratch: The Challenge of Black Lesbian Organizingp. 244
Sex, Love, and Birth Control in the Twenty-First Centuryp. 258
Citizen Queerp. 268