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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > LGBT Studies

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Lesbian & Bisexual Identities Cover

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Lesbian & Bisexual Identities

This book examines  the stories of lesbian and bisexual women in a Northeast community who share who they are, how they have come to see themselves as lesbian or bisexual, and what those identities mean to them. Drawing on social constructionist approaches to identity, Kristin G. Esterberg argues that identities are multiple and contingent. Created within the context of specific communities and within specific relationships, lesbian and bisexual identities are ways  of sorting through experiences of desires and attractions, relationships, and politics. Their meanings change over time as women grow older and have more varied experiences, as the communities and sociopolitical worlds in which they live change, and as their life circumstances alter.

In interviews conducted over a four-year time period, women describe the lesbian community they live in; how they see its structure, its social groups, its informal rules and norms for behavior; and their places inside -- or on the margins of -- the community. Lesbian and Bisexual Identities reveals how women fall in and out of love, how they "perform" lesbian or bisexual identity through clothing, hairstyle, body language, and talk, and many other aspects typically not considered. The women present a variety of accounts. Some consider themselves "lesbian from birth"  and have constructed their lives accordingly, while others have experienced significant shifts in their identities, depending on the influences of feminism, progressive politics, the visibility of the lesbian community, and other factors.

Esterberg offers vivid accounts that defy the stereotypes so commonly offered. Lesbian and Bisexual Identities not only presents women's stories in their own words, it moves beyond storytelling to understand how these accounts resonate  with social science theories of identity and community.

LGBT Youth in America's Schools Cover

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LGBT Youth in America's Schools

Jason Cianciotto

Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill, experts on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public policy advocacy, combine an accessible review of social science research with analyses of school practices and local, state, and federal laws that affect LGBT students. In addition, portraits of LGBT youth and their experiences with discrimination at school bring human faces to the issues the authors discuss. This is an essential guide for teachers, school administrators, guidance counselors, and social workers interacting with students on a daily basis; school board members and officials determining school policy; nonprofit advocates and providers of social services to youth; and academic scholars, graduate students, and researchers training the next generation of school administrators and informing future policy and practice.

Longer Views Cover

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Longer Views

Extended Essays

Samuel R. Delany

"Reading is a many-layered process -- like writing," observes Samuel R. Delany, a Nebula and Hugo award-winning author and a major commentator on American literature and culture. In this collection of six extended essays, Delany challenges what he calls "the hard-edged boundaries of meaning" by going beyond the customary limits of the genre in which he's writing. By radically reworking the essay form, Delany can explore and express the many layers of his thinking about the nature of art, the workings of language, and the injustices and ironies of social, political, and sexual marginalization. Thus Delany connects, in sometimes unexpected ways, topics as diverse as the origins of modern theater, the context of lesbian and gay scholarship, the theories of cyborgs, how metaphors mean, and the narrative structures in the Star Wars trilogy.

"Over the course of his career," Kenneth James writes in his extensive introduction, "Delany has again and again thrown into question the world-models that all too many of us unknowingly live by." Indeed, Delany challenges an impressive list of world-models here, including High and Low Art, sanity and madness, mathematical logic and the mechanics of mythmaking, the distribution of wealth in our society, and the limitations of our sexual vocabulary. Also included are two essays that illustrate Delany's unique chrestomathic technique, the grouping of textual fragments whose associative interrelationships a reader must actively trace to read them as a resonant argument. Whether writing about Wagner or Hart Crane, Foucault or Robert Mapplethorpe, Delany combines a fierce and often piercing vision with a powerful honesty that beckons us to share in the perspective of these Longer Views.

Looking Like What You Are Cover

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Looking Like What You Are

Sexual Style, Race, and Lesbian Identity

Lisa Walker

Looks can be deceiving, and in a society where one's status and access to opportunity are largely attendant on physical appearance, the issue of how difference is constructed and interpreted, embraced or effaced, is of tremendous import.

Lisa Walker examines this issue with a focus on the questions of what it means to look like a lesbian, and what it means to be a lesbian but not to look like one. She analyzes the historical production of the lesbian body as marked, and studies how lesbians have used the frequent analogy between racial difference and sexual orientation to craft, emphasize, or deny physical difference. In particular, she explores the implications of a predominantly visible model of sexual identity for the feminine lesbian, who is both marked and unmarked, desired and disavowed.

Walker's textual analysis cuts across a variety of genres, including modernist fiction such as The Well of Loneliness and Wide Sargasso Sea, pulp fiction of the Harlem Renaissance, the 1950s and the 1960s, post-modern literature as Michelle Cliff's Abeng, and queer theory.

In the book's final chapter, "How to Recognize a Lesbian," Walker argues that strategies of visibility are at times deconstructed, at times reinscribed within contemporary lesbian-feminist theory.

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Loss within Loss

Artists in the Age of AIDS

When an artist dies we face two great losses: the person and the work he did not live to do. Loss within Loss is a moving collaboration by some of America's most eloquent writers, who supply wry, raging, sorrowful, and buoyant accounts of artist friends and lovers struck down by AIDS. These essayists include Maya Angelou, Alan Gurganus, Brad Gooch, John Berendt, Craig Lucas, Robert Rosenblum, and eighteen others. Many of the subjects of the essays were already prominent—James Merrill, Paul Monette, David Wojnarowicz—but many others died young, before they were able to fulfil the promise of their lives and art. Loss within Loss spans all of the arts and includes portraits of choreographers, painters, poets, actors, playwrights, sculptors, editors, composers, and architects.This landmark book is published in association with the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, a national organization that preserves art works created by artists living with HIV or lost to AIDS. Loss within Loss stands as a powerful reminder of the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic on the arts community and as the first real survey of that devastation. Though these accounts are often intensely sad, Loss within Loss is an invigorating, sometimes even exuberant, testimony to the sheer joy of being an artist . . . and being alive.

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Madre and I

A Memoir of Our Immigrant Lives

Guillermo Reyes

In this moving and funny memoir, award-winning playwright Guillermo Reyes untangles his life as the secretly illegitimate son of a Chilean immigrant to the United States and as a young man struggling with sexual repression, body image, and gay identity. But this is a double-decker memoir that also tells the poignant, bittersweet, and adventurous story of Guillermo’s mother, María, who supports herself and her son cleaning houses and then working as a nanny in Washington, D.C. and eventually in Hollywood.
    In one memorable scene, after realizing that her friend Carmen is cleaning the house of one of the producers of Annie Hall, María recruits her to take her picture as she poses dramatically with Mr. Joffe’s Oscar in hand. It is María’s defiant yet determined attitude amidst her sacrifices that allows for Guillermo’s spirited coming of age and coming out.
    Their common ground is the drama of their encounters with discovery, heartbreak, and passion—the explosive emotions that light up the stage of their two-actor theater.
 
Honorable Mention, Best Biography–English, International Latino Book Awards
 
 

 

Male Beauty Cover

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Male Beauty

Postwar Masculinity in Theater, Film, and Physique Magazines

Kenneth Krauss

Explores how a younger and more sensitive form of masculinity emerged in the United States after World War II.

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The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag

And Other Intimate Literary Portraits of the Bohemian Era

Edward Field

    Long before Stonewall, young Air Force veteran Edward Field, fresh from combat in WWII, threw himself into New York’s literary bohemia, searching for fulfillment as a gay man and poet. In this vivid account of his avant-garde years in Greenwich Village and the bohemian outposts of Paris’s Left Bank and Tangier—where you could write poetry, be radical, and be openly gay—Field opens the closet door to reveal, as never been seen before, some of the most important writers of his time.

    Here are young, beautiful Susan Sontag sitting at the feet of her idol Alfred Chester, who shrewdly plotted to marry her; May Swenson and her two loves; Paul and Jane Bowles in their ambiguous marriage; Frank O’Hara in and out of bed; Fritz Peters, the anointed son of Gurdjieff; and James Baldwin, Isabel Miller (Patience and Sarah), Tobias Schneebaum, Robert Friend, and many others. With its intimate portraits, Field’s memoir brings back a forgotten era—postwar bohemia—bawdy, comical, romantic, sad, and heroic.

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The Marrying Kind?

Debating Same-Sex Marriage within the Lesbian and Gay Movement

Mary Bernstein


As the fight for same-sex marriage rages across the United States and lesbian and gay couples rush to marriage license counters, the goal of marriage is still fiercely questioned within the LGBT movement. Rarely has an objective so central to a social movement’s political agenda been so controversial within the movement itself. While antigay forces work to restrict marriage to one man and one woman, lesbian and gay activists are passionately arguing about the desirability, viability, and social consequences of same-sex marriage.


The Marrying Kind? is the first book to draw on empirical research to examine these debates and how they are affecting marriage equality campaigns. The essays in this volume analyze the rhetoric, strategies, and makeup of the LGBT social movement organizations pushing for same-sex marriage, and address the dire predictions of some LGBT commentators that same-sex marriage will spell the end of queer identity and community. Case studies from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Canada illuminate the complicated politics of same-sex marriage, making clear that the current disagreements among LGBT activists over whether marriage is conforming or transformative are far too simplistic. Instead, the impact of the marriage equality movement is complex and often contradictory, neither fully assimilationist nor fully oppositional.


Contributors: Ellen Ann Andersen, U of Vermont; Mary C. Burke, U of Vermont; Adam Isaiah Green, U of Toronto; Melanie Heath, McMaster U, Ontario; Kathleen E. Hull, U of Minnesota; Katrina Kimport, U of California, San Francisco; Jeffrey Kosbie; Katie Oliviero, U of Colorado, Boulder; Kristine A. Olsen; Timothy A. Ortyl; Arlene Stein, Rutgers U; Amy L. Stone, Trinity U; Nella Van Dyke, U of California, Merced.


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