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The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
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The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,055 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Gay & Lesbian Studies, Homosexuality, Women's Studies
Paperback, 502 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Alyson Books
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Ariel ✨
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt-general
I've been looking for stories like these for a long time. I'm glad I finally found the time to read them.

I would love for there to be an ebook version someday so this text could reach a wider audience. Here are some quotes that jumped out at me:

"After I left home my brother found out that I hung out in the Starlet Lounge and he and his friends used to come and taunt us. There was nothing that could be done about that, because that’s what the bars were, that’s where they made their money—with th
On a major Joan Nestle kick. Even though The Persistent Desire gets referenced all the time in newer books, I couldn't find it in any bookstore and had to special order. Well worth the postage, and a great one to read aloud. The book feels like a conversation held under a big warm tent that could only have been pitched by a great humanist editor like Nestle. Her busy mending and minding of these stories is evident in the way it's knitted all together, beautifully patterned by Nestle web-spinning ...more
Crucial to the femme-butch history, this anthology is diverse, incredible, and well written.
Some of my favorite pieces from this [for my reference]

Gayle Rubin "Of Calamities and Kings: Reflections on butch, gender, and boundaries"

Pat Califa "Diagnostic Tests"'

Bonni Barringer "When Butches Cry"

"Recollecting History, Renaming Lives: Femme Stigma and the Feminist 70s and 80s"

Rita Laporte "The Butch Femme Question"

Barbara Smith "The Dance of Masks"
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've never felt any affinity with a butch or femme label, but (to my surprise) I loved this. There is a great variety of talented voices captured here in a variety of prose and poetry, fiction and not.

I recently read a lesbian history book, and reading an overview of all the lesbian cultures that sprang up throughout the years made me tired. For the most part, the cultures came off as exhausting and restrictive. But this book shed a different light on Butch/Femme culture and hearing about differ
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: so-gay
I place a high value on knowing where your community started and how far it has come, so this is a pretty important book for me. You should approach it as a history book, though, not a present day "reader" on butch/femme things, because it is a fairly dated perspective.
Dec 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lesbianstories
This book really synthesized and solidified my identity as a fem. I loved the historical perspective on queer culture. It's really affirming of the roles that queers have taken over the years that are not generally celbrated. Bless Joan Nestle!
Sassafras Lowrey
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
MUST READ! without a doubt my favorite Butch/Femme book - a beautiful and powerful anthology that has held up to the test of time, core to a Butch/Femme literary cannon
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
oh joan, how could i have ever found femme without you? one of my favorite covers too.
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbt, bookcrawler
Absolutely awesome
I am not someone who reads books a second time but I've read this one at least three times.
Kelly Applegate
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Aradia V
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very good history of the butch/femme dynamic...obviously a bit out of date for current dynamics..but we should all know the stories of those who came before us.
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  • That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation
  • Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
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  • Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
  • Baby Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl Writing
  • Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women
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Joan Nestle writes and edits essays, erotic fiction, poetry, and short stories. She is an activist, and among many actions has co-founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives to preserve records of lesbian lives and communities and currently coordinates the Women in Black protests against Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.