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When We Were Outlaws author to give "Queer Identity" talk downtown Sunday

SAN DIEGO – Jeanne Córdova, author of When We Were Outlaws, will be in San Diego this weekend, giving a lecture of interest to the LGBT community.

Her talk, entitled, "The New Queer Identity," will take place at the San Diego REPertory Theater in the Lyceum space in Horton Plaza on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, at 6 pm.

It will precede the play, In the Wake, the latest offering from lesbian playwright Lisa Kron, which starts at 7 pm.

"In the Wake" has a heavy lesbian and bisexual subplot itself, and is described as, "A funny, provocative, and undeniably sexy new play about having it all."

Córdova's speaking event is being sponsored by San Diego REPertory Theatre and Warwick Books and is free and open to the public. Those wishing to stay for the play must buy a ticket at the box office.

The pioneering LGBT writer and activist will focus on the comparisons and contrasts between today’s queer identities and those of through the years, including the 1950's and the 1970's when she first came into her activism.

Córdova plans to read excerpts from chapters of her book, When We Were Outlaws -- a politically charged historical account of her early activism life -- as they apply to the topic.

Copies of her book will be available for purchase and she will do a book signing after the lecture.

She has a lot to say about changes in queer identity.

"It was different and more simple back then," she told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. "The queer movement didn't exist.

"As an old-timer, it is thrilling that there are so many more and different gender identities today, and there is much more permission today to explore your gender identity.

"In the past, lesbians were expected to follow [the rules of] both the feminism lesbian and lipstick lesbian and be more acceptable to straight people.

"Fifty percent of lesbians fall in the middle [vs. extreme butch or femme], but the other fifty per cent of gays, lesbians and queers do not follow the norm.

"People have often tried to fit into what’s more popular, but that is changing," she continued. "There has been a resurgence after things were buried for years by feminism.

"I’m for freedom of gender expression. There shouldn’t be a forced political correctness.”

She sees new hope in recent younger generations. In fact, her book was dedicated to "the queer youth of today whose activism now gives their elders so much pride."

This will be her only San Diego appearance to support the book.

When she was an outlaw

In 2011, Córdova released her autobiography, When We Were Outlaws.

Here is a riveting excerpt from her author's forward:

The pain in my life began at the age of four with the simple act of receiving the wrong Christmas present - a toy doll. The dissonance in your life might begin more obviously: the day you were raped, the night you went to be hungry, the day your father left home. My pain was subtle and psychic, and I could have ignored it except that I continued to receive the wrong Christmas present for 18 years. That was step one in recognizing my social movement when it came knocking, the persistent noise in your head that tells you that the world’s reality and your own don’t match. One might argue that never getting a Christmas present that matches your sense of self beats going to bed starving. But I did go to bed starving for two decades, haunted by the famine of misidentification.

Amazon describes the book as:

"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.”

Patricia Nell Warren, who wrote the iconic LGBT novel, “Front Runner,” saw When We Were Outlaws as a historical look at the community. "For LGBT people who care about activism, especially those young enough to have no memory of those iconic times, Córdova's "memoir of love and revolution" should be a must-read.”

Read the review renown LGBT activist Robin Tyler wrote for SDGLN, here: Sex, history and lesbian outlaws.

Córdova, who had been a prominent member of the national organization and conference Butch Voices since its inception in 2008, split with the group last year. Her departure was fueled by changes in the organization's mission statement regarding gender identification, brought about by leading trans members of the group who were disassociating with their female identities.

She and others who left went on to help establish Butch Nation, which plans to hold their national conference in October of 2012.

Her book has a Facebook page and to learn more about her, you can also visit her website.

You can follow Córdova’s personal blog at This Lesbian World, notes from a community organizer.

About the play after the lecture

Learn more about the play, it's plot and the actors, by visiting the SD Rep In the Wake page.

In the Wake
Written by Lisa Kron, directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg
Feb. 11 – March 4, 2012 (NOTE: Jeanne Córdova will only be speaking prior to the Feb. 12th performance)
Opening Night: Friday, Feb. 17, 2012
The Lyceum Space
San Diego REPertory Theatre
79 Horton Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101-6144

Ticket Prices: $32 to $51 (Student tickets: $18)
Discounts for groups, seniors and military also available.
San Diego REP Box Office (619) 544-1000

NOTE: Park at Horton Plaza and get four hours of validated parking for coming to the play.

Four hours free parking in the Horton Plaza Garage with validation at the theatre. Tickets available for purchase online at sdrep.org.