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When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution
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When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  21 reviews
A sweeping memoir, a raw and intimate chronicle of a young activist torn between conflicting personal longings and political goals. When We Were Outlaws offers a rare view of the life of a radical lesbian during the early cultural struggle for gay rights, Women’s Liberation, and the New Left of the 1970s.

Brash and ambitious, activist Jeanne Córdova is living with one woma
Paperback, 456 pages
Published November 29th 2011 by Spinsters Ink (first published October 18th 2011)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  198 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, feminist-lit, lgbt
This memoir flowed like a novel, but I felt like I learned a lot about the feminist and lesbian movements in the 1970s through personal relationships and the interviews/work Cordova does. It was strangely written for a memoir. The writing seemed overly dramatic at times, and blocked out some of the reflection parts. I felt like she sometimes jumped from scene to scene where I wanted to delve deeper. But the political and historical side of things made this book worth reading.
Jean Roberta
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Remember the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst by a group of self-defined revolutionaries, the Symbionese Liberation Army? Remember the music of Joan Baez, Janis Ian and the first openly lesbian singer-songwriters of the 1970s?

Jeanne Cordova was a young journalist and political activist in Los Angeles at the time, and she has written a gripping account of it. The major political and cultural events covered by the author as Human Rights Editor of “the Freep” (The L.A. Free Press) a
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“The riveting first-hand telling of a dangerous creative time.
The lesbian feminist ‘70s with their messy, sexy, bold
social and personal visions, live again on these pages”
-- Joan Nestle

When We Were Outlaws by Jeanne Cordova

"When We Were Outlaws, is such an important addition to the literary cannon of LGBT non-fiction. The book manages to be captivating, heartbreaking, and gratifying all at once.”
--Diane Anderson Minshall - The Advocate
"For LGBT people who care about activism, especially those young enough to have no memor
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I almost gave this 4 stars, as I found Cordova's description of 1970s lesbian feminism in L.A., lesbian involvement in underground movements (e.g. the S.L.A.) and the battle at the gay community center really interesting. However, I quickly bored of her relationship drama. Also, the book could have used some copy editing.
May 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Lags a bit at the end, and gets a tad corny with the star-crossed lovers-subplot, but overall, a compelling memoir by one badass lesbian feminist.
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
So this book gets four stars, but with a big caveat. It won't be of interest to everyone, and is not in any way an extensive study of anything, except several months in the life of the author, back when she was forty years younger and the meanings of things like "feminism", "lesbian", "left" and "revolution" were not completely different, but definitely not the same.

That said, the book gets the four stars because it was very quick and easy to read (a big plus for me), not boring, seemed honest,
This book is basically a lesbian feminist Anna Karinina: 80% politics, 20% star-crossed lovers. I appreciated the behind-the-scenes insight into the fights that precluded cooperation across gay liberation and lesbian feminism in the 1970s, and Cordova is an engaging writer with a keen attention to details as well as a flair for what will be compelling. In some parts it felt a little tedious to go through the details. Enter Rachel. Condova's star-crossed affair did so much for me as a reader. I t ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a happy coincidence that When We Were Outlaws reached the top of my TBR stack just after it won a Lambda Literary Award. I was already looking forward to it, but the win pushed my expectations a little higher. I can definitely see when Cordova won. When We Were Outlaws is equal parts a historical look into the feminist and gay/lesbian activism of the 70s, and a personal memoir about a love affair. It took me a little while to get into, but by the end I was totally gripped...

Read the rest
Ben Kim
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book is subtitled "Love and Revolution" for good reason - consistently throughout the memoir Cordova relates her struggle to balance her relationship with her political activism. Sounds mundane until you realize that Cordova (and other 70s gay liberationists) were fighting the societal forces that disapproved of her having a relationship at all.

As a young queer activist in the modern age I was completely fascinated by the climate of gay politics in the 70s - if you have any interest in gay
Wendi Kali
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've carried this book around for quite a while now and finally took the time to read it. As a butch in the present day, it was interesting to read some of the history of the feminist movement as well as the LGBT movement in Los Angeles. The love story was good for me to read, as well. I could relate to it really well. Very good book.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, queer
In short, an excellent synopsis of several years during the 1970s. The book highlights the tensions between socialism, feminism, and gay "liberation." Intertwined within the historical and political facts presented in "Outlaws" is the personal, in which Cordova recounts how the multiple (and sometimes contradictory) ideologies of the time affected the lives of herself, her mentors, and her friends/lovers. An incredibly important addition to the body of work that goes behind-the-scenes to share t ...more
When we were outlaws talks about the "Great revolution". The one that involved the feminism with the lesbianism in the 70s. The action happens in a fizzy L.A where women meetings had their own space at the womens building, where events, music festival were set, organized by and for women, where more than ever women were a voice, a body and a soul. At the same time the book is a journey to the Communist movement of the decade in America and Jeanne makes us witness about the lesbians first steps f ...more
Mrs Lady Bear
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Epic and very much a book to read as soon as possible I personally fell in love with the ability Cordova has to transport you to the exact place and time and feeling in every event she shared with us. LOVE
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Invaluable insight into the lesser known parts of lgbt activism history. We need more books like this! Cordorva writes well, although the romance side plot occasionally veers into flowery territory.
Beth Cook
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great historical read
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Grateful for this book.
Melissa Luna
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a roller coaster ride, I could not put this book down! What a brilliant window into our past and the foundations of queer revolutionary culture in the States. Cordova breaks down all the different ideologies competing for dominance in the 1970's in a manner that is anything but dry.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good read for me because it brought back a few memories of Los Angeles circa 1975; The Lesbian Tide, The Women's Saloon, The Woman's Building, San Diego Women's Music Festival and mention of some women I knew. A very important year for me.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
weirdly, reads as if Robert Heinlein decided to write a story with a radical lesbian feminist reporter as the hero

with passages like, "I reached into my jeans and pulled out my silver Zippo lighter. “Listen,” I said, as I flicked it open and spun the wheel with my thumb. “Did you hear the grate of the wheel against the flint? Metal on metal, immutable force against un-giving force equals a spark, a flame, a fire. That’s the principle of dialectic materialism.” “Run that by me again?” “It’s a po
Julia Allen
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Detailed picture of one part of the early women's movement in LA. A good reminder of how young & volatile we were then. Cordova was a highly skilled organizer who devoted herself to bringing lesbians visibly into the movement. Although she passed away too soon (at age 67), her work lives on in a changed world.
Gabby Rivera
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A pioneer rabble-rousing activist, Jeanne Cordova is one of the founders of the West Coast LGBTQ movement. Cordova also edited 'The Lesbian Tide', "the national voice of record for the lesbian feminist era of the 1970s." Her journalism and writing continued with books and essays in award-winning anthologies including 'Lesbian Nuns: Breaking the Silence' and 'Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader ...more