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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33 At school she is too poor to join the middle-class Jews and too white to join
the working-class blacks: she is an outsider in every respect - the classic
alienated hero. Its specific attraction to me is in part because of my own cultural
There appears to be a class distinction operating here, one which is underpinned
by the pervading class dualism of working- class/butch, middle-class/femme,
evidenced most visibly in the way that lesbian chic in the 1990s was so clearly ...
In middle-class lesbian environments, even with my most intimate friends, I have
learned to censure behaviour that might ... out' about my lesbianism; I remain
anxious in Brighton that my working- class pain of non-belonging will be 'found
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