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Joan Nestle: Portrait of the Month February 2013

Joan Nestle, New York, NY, 1987


Born in the Bronx in 1940 and raised by her mother Regina, a single parent who worked as a bookkeeper in the New York garment industry, Joan Nestle learned early about work, resistance to bosses, and the power of erotic en- counters to change gray survival into desired touch. Nestle was politically active during the McCarthy era and in the anti-war, Civil Rights, and gay/lesbian and feminist move- ments. She came out in the working class bars of Greenwich Village of the late 1950’s, and has never stopped writing about those times and the butch-femme communities of women who taught her femme-lesbian ways. She is the author of two memoirs, A Restricted Country (1987) and A Fragile Union (1998), as well as many collections on lesbian and gay culture. She was co-founder of the unique Lesbian Herstory Archives in 1974, which survives to this day. The women of the Israeli peace and anti-occupation movements have honored her this year with the Hebrew translation of her selected works, dedicated to Palestinians and Israelis who want to tear down walls.