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Popular Topics in Literature
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Congratulations to Jeanne Córdova on Publication of When We Were Outlaws
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/04/11
Last updated on: 12/04/11
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Activist and writer Jeanne Córdova's long-awaited "novelized memoir," When We Were Outlaws, has been published by Bella Books to appreciative reviews and even a dramatization. The book chronicles the intermeshing of the personal and the political (and their frequent conflicts) in the life of a Los Angeles-based lesbian activist in the heady days of the 1970s.

Córdova left a religious order to become a community-organizer and social worker and then an investigative reporter for the radical newspaper L.A. Free Press. She soon found herself covering stories about such figures as the Weather Underground, Angela Davis, and Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Front.

At the same time, she became involved in numerous love affairs with women, and established herself as a leader in the Los Angeles gay and lesbian movement. A president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, she also co-founded and edited Lesbian Tide, one of the most influential lesbian journals of the 1970s. Her reporting and columns for Lesbian Tide and other publications of the era are now recognized as early examples of advocacy journalism.

Córdova's new book, which features a foreword by historian Lillian Faderman, paints a memorable portrait of a crucial era in the movement for equal rights, even as it also explores the complicated emotions of a Latina "pretty butch" activist coming to terms with the first great love of her life.

In The Advocate, Robin Tyler describes When We were Outlaws as "a major literary accomplishment." She praises Córdova for her "courage to open up her private life, the strengths and weaknesses, internal pains, and mistakes that took her to dark places" and her ability to use dialogue to make scenes vivid. "They are like overhearing conversations with friends, lovers, and other famous activists."

A dramatization of the book is running at West Hollywood's Macha Theater under the title Outlaws on Stage.

The cast of eight queer actors include Raquel Gutierrez, performance artist of Butchlalis de Panochtitlan, as Córdova at 25; Dan Wentzel as Córdova's "political godfather" community leader Morris Kight; Jennifer Weaver as Patty Hearst; and Lauren Steely as Emily Harris of the Symbionese Liberation Army and Córdova's lover, Rachel.

Here Cordova discusses both the book and the dramatization:

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