Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution

Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between book

AUTHOR: Kristin G. Esterberg
PUBLISHER: Temple University Press
DATE: 1997
PAGES: 216


Publisher’s Description

This book examines the stories of lesbian and bisexual women in a Northeast community who share who they are, how they have come to see themselves as lesbian or bisexual, and what those identities mean to them. Drawing on social constructionist approaches to identity, Kristin G. Esterberg argues that identities are multiple an contingent. Created within the context of specific communities and within specific relationships, lesbian and bisexual identities are ways of sorting through experiences of desires and attractions, relationships, and politics.

In interviews conducted over a four-year time period, women described the lesbian community they lived in, how they saw its structure, its social groups, its informal rules and norms for behavior, and their places inside — or on the margins of — the community. Lesbian and Bisexual Identities reveals how women fall in and out of love, how they “perform” lesbian or bisexual identity through clothing, hairstyle, body language, and talk, and many other aspects typically not considered. Some women consider themselves “lesbians from birth” and have constructed their lives accordingly, while others have experiences gradual shifts in their identities, depending on the influences of feminism, progressive politics, the visibility of the lesbian community, and other factors.

Esterberg not only presents women’s stories in their own words, she moves beyond storytelling to understand how these accounts resonate with social science theories of identity and community.

Table of Contents


1. Theorizing Identity: Lesbian and Bisexual Accounts
2. Cover Stories
3. Changing Selves
4. Essentially Lesbian? Performing Lesbian Identity
5. Race, Class, Identity
6. Twelve Steppers, Feminists, and Softball Dykes
7. Rule Making and Rule Breaking
8. Bisexual Accounts and the Limits of Lesbian Community
9. Beyond Identity and Community?
Appendix: Methodology

Library Books Cited in this Work

Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
by Lillian Faderman

Stone Butch Blues
Leslie Feinberg

Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life
By Marjorie Garber

Other Relevant Books Cited

Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women by Alan P. Bell, Martin S. Weinberg, and Sue Kiefer Hammersmith
Forms of Desire: Sexual Orientation and the Social Constructionist Controversy by John Boswell
Women’s Suffrage in the United States: Woman Sufffrage, Equal Rights, and Beyond by Steven Buechler
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Judith Butler
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by the Combahee River Collective
Bisexual Identities over the Lifespan: Gay and Bisexual Perspectives by Anthony D’Augelli and Charlotte J. .Patterson
Social Psychology of Identity and the Self Concept by Adrian Coyle
Queer Theory by Teresa de Lauretis
Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell and Sharon Thompson
Forms of Desire: Sexual Orientation and the Social Constructionist Controversy by Edward Stein
Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendships and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present by Lillian Faderman
Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity by Erving Goffman
Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory by Cathy Griggers
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline Davis
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader by Joan Nestle
Identity Politics: Lesbian Feminism and the Limits of Community by Shane Phelan
Getting Specific: Postmodern Lesbian Politics by Shane Phelan
Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology edited by Barbara Smith
Sisters, Sexperts, Queers: Beyond the Lesbian Nation edited by Arlene Stein
Girlfriend Number One: Lesbian Life in the 90s by Robin Stevens
Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship by Kath Weston
Queer by Choice: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Politics of Identity by Vera Whisman

Library Notes

Paperback in good shape, former library book. Purchased used by the library.