This book, first published in 2000, explores the intersections of race, gender and gay identities in writings by contemporary American lesbians of colour in order to show how this subject is sometimes ignored, sometimes brutalised and is very rarely able to survive on her own terms by constructing her own identity acts of cultural revision. The author places the lesbian of colour in the context of current identity theories showing the ever-present blind spots within current theoretical paradigms, she then reads a variety of writings by lesbians of colour describing the possibilities that exist for these subjects in textual and social realities. The author shows the varied communities that threaten the existence of this subject, as well as the limits that dictate the subject's ability to create her self. By bridging Judith Butler's Gender Trouble and Gloria Anzaldua's New Mestiza she describes how lesbians of colour can survive numerous sites of hostility by constructing a positive identity within her home community through revising cultural traditions and history.
After considering the power of these acts of revision, the author calls for the empowered performance of the mestiza state - the state of contradiction wherein the lesbian of colour finds herself. This book is the first to analyse creative and theoretical works by African American, Asian American, Latina and Native American communities and writers through the lens of lesbian studies. Authors include recognised figures such as Audre Lorde, Ana Castillo and Paula Gunn Allen, as well as lesser known authors like Best Brant, Natashia Lopez and Willyce Kim. It provides a corrective to Butler's empowering but essentially white vision of performing identity, so that lesbians of colour can claim their identities and remain tied to their own cultural traditions. Ultimately, the author asks for a reconsideration of the value of identity studies that articulate monolithic identities and whose analyses perpetuate what they seek to disrupt.
1. Rethinking Identity Construction: Placing the Lesbian of Color 2. Naming the Enemies: Multiple Threats to the Lesbian of Color 3. Strategies of Survival: The Limits and the Consequences 4. The Path to Survival: Rewriting Cultural Traditions and Creating Living Theories