Heroic Desire: Lesbian Identity and Cultural Space
"Lesbians are adept at constructing survival strategies. Our being in this world exacts a cost, and our identities mutate to incorporate and resist that cost. The reality of our world is our relentless demand for presence, an occupation of space which we have colonized for ourselves, in the name of a configuration of desires we call 'lesbian', -- the more reflective we can become about these tactics, the more powerful is our rhetoric of existence".
This book is concerned with the ways contemporary lesbians have taken up imaginative and material space. It describes the mechanics of presence, how modern lesbians have produced a discursive space which offers a refutation to the closet. Identities are produced, expressed, and authenticated by and through space. Understanding "real" and metaphorical spatial structures helps us to discover new sites of presence and resistance. Some famous spaces, such as New York, Paris, and Berlin, have been constitutive of modern gay and lesbian identities. Social spaces teach us something about the relations of domination and subordination around us, and we have seen recently in that struggle "to be", a growing politics of location and locatedness.
Space is also taken imaginatively. Our narratives, which have become moral and political handbooks, provide role models for building and consolidating identities and communities. By processes of interpretation, drawing from literary and cultural theory, the author displays ways in
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Joan Nestle 1988. Earlier versions of some of the material discussed in the book
have been or will be published as follows: 'In Defence of Heroes' in E. Healey
and A. Mason (eds), Stonewall 25: The Making of the Lesbian and Gay
Joan Nestle, A Restricted Country. London: Sheba Feminist Publishers, 1988, pp.
74-7. 49. See for example Amber Hollibaugh and Chern'e Moraga, 'What we're
rollin' around in bed with: sexual silences in feminism: a conversation towards ...
158. 4. And by transporting meaning from appropriated cultures; c.f. 'shaman'
above. 5. See Joan Nestle, A Restricted Country. London: Sheba Feminist Press,
1988; Joan Nestle (ed.), The Persistent Desire. Boston: Alyson Publications,
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