This Is What Lesbian Looks Like: Dyke Activists Take on the 21st Century

Kris Kleindienst, Editor Firebrand Books $18.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-56341-116-8
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.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-56341-117-5
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