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Intimate Activism tells the story of Nicaraguan sexual-rights activists who helped to overturn the most repressive antisodomy law in the Americas. The law was passed shortly after the Sandinistas lost power in 1990 and, to the surprise of many, was repealed in 2007. In this vivid ethnography, Cymene Howe analyzes how local activists balanced global discourses regarding human rights and identity politics with the contingencies of daily life in Nicaragua. Though they were initially spurred by the antisodomy measure, activists sought to change not only the law but also culture. Howe emphasizes the different levels of intervention where activism occurs, from mass-media outlets and public protests to meetings of clandestine consciousness-raising groups. She follows the travails of queer characters in a hugely successful telenovela, traces the ideological tensions within the struggle for sexual rights, and conveys the voices of those engaged in "becoming" lesbianas and homosexuales in contemporary Nicaragua.
LGBT activism is often imagined as a self-contained struggle, inspired by but set apart from other social movements. Lavender and Red recounts a far different story: a history of queer radicals who understood their sexual liberation as intertwined with solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism. This politics was born in the late 1960s but survived well past Stonewall, propelling a gay and lesbian left that flourished through the end of the Cold War. The gay and lesbian left found its center in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place where sexual self-determination and revolutionary internationalism converged. Across the 1970s, its activists embraced socialist and women of color feminism and crafted queer opposition to militarism and the New Right. In the Reagan years, they challenged U.S. intervention in Central America, collaborated with their peers in Nicaragua, and mentored the first direct action against AIDS. Bringing together archival research, oral histories, and vibrant images, Emily K. Hobson rediscovers the radical queer past for a generation of activists today.
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