Activist energy is in the air in Chicago, with NATO still fresh, and Jeanne Cordova’s appearance at Women and Children First coming up on Friday, June 1. Cordova is a lesbian feminist activist, and founder and former publisher of The Lesbian Tide, a nationally distributed magazine that gave voice to the feminist lesbian population in the 1970s. In the wake of the Stonewall Riots, Cordova identified with and wrote for the fledgling community, helping to unify through information. Cordova will appear in the Andersonville shop to discuss her new memoir, When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution, in conversation with her friend Achy Obejas, Chicagoan, writer, and feminist.
The book details Cordova’s experience as an activist, grappling with issues in her personal and political lives simultaneously. Straddling lines of LGBT activism, feminist lesbian activism, and her involvement in the New Left, the story is rich in history and personal connection. The narrative depicts Cordova’s determination to put the movement before issues in her love life.
“The Lesbian Tide was one of the very first news magazines that covered the lesbian and gay movement and represented a perspective that was radical,” said co-owner of Women and Children First Ann Christophersen. “It was just after Stonewall when there was political foment—the movement was still in creation prior to this—and things coalesced around Stonewall. It became a movement.”
Obejas (Ruins, Days of Awe, and much more) is a two-time Lambda Award-winning novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose life, professionally and personally, has paralleled Cordova’s in many ways.
“Achy is very smart, and she’s been deeply involved with these issues herself since the 70s,” Christophersen said. “She’s a brilliant journalist. I think that the conversation between Achy and Jeanne will be very interesting. Having lived through and been a very active participant in the early years of the movement—I’d be interested to engage [Cordova] on her perspectives now with issues that seem to dominate the feminist movement.”
Cordova’s affiliations with groups like The Weather Underground and the New Left make her story uniquely significant. Cordova was also associated with Angela Davis (Women, Race, and Class  and Are Prisons Obsolete? ), a member of the Black Panther Party and a force during the Civil Rights Movement particularly in matters related to the treatment of Black people in prison. Giving voice to these past struggles, still relevant today, through vibrant conversation is crucial to the store’s mission.
“One of the reasons we’re quick to host a program like this is because even recent history is quickly lost unless we make a point of putting it in front of people who didn’t live through it or have immediate contact with it,” Christophersen said. “They’ve lived in the results and have the new version of it, but the radical lesbian feminist movement and gay and lesbian movement have roots, and knowing what those roots are and what it was like is very important.”