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Esther Newton Speaks OUT (AUDIO)

By Charlotte Robinson, October 03, 2019
In recognition of LGBTQ History Month I talked with Esther Newton about her book “My Butch Career A Memoir” that addresses her gender identity & exploration during a particularly intense time of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century. Newton’s story is compelling, disarming & at times carnal as she struggles to write, teach & find love. From being molested as a child to her failed attempts to live a “normal” straight life in high school & college she became an influential figure in our LGBTQ community & a powerful reminder of just how recently it has been possible to be an openly queer academic. With humor & grace she describes her introduction to middle-class lesbian life & her love affairs including one with a renowned abstract painter & another with a French academic she traveled with throughout France & Switzerland. Newton's narrative ends in her forties in the company of the first generation of out lesbian & gay scholars with whom she helped create gender & sexuality studies. Esther received her BA at the University of Michigan in history before starting graduate work in anthropology at the University of Chicago. In 1968 her PhD dissertation “The Drag Queens: A Study in Urban Anthropology” examined the experiences, social interactions & culture of drag queens of mostly gay men that was later published under the title “Mother Camp” in 1972. Her second book “Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America's First Gay & Lesbian Town” was published in 1993. Newton was active in Second Wave Feminism, Gay Liberation & the Lesbian/Feminist movements. Currently Newton is the subject of a documentary of her life story and contributing to a book of photography with acclaimed photographer Eva Weiss. I talked to Esther about her inspiration for writing “My Butch Career A Memoir” & her spin on our LGBTQ issues.
For More Info: esther-newton.com
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1 comment:

Marilyn Rosen said...

After hearing Esther's interview, I would love to read everything she's written. I, too, think that the word Lesbian has been a hard-earned word and should not be erased from conversation, forgotten or looked down upon by anyone especially within the community.

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