Lesbian Death

Desire and Danger between Feminist and Queer

2022
Author:

Mairead Sullivan

Engaging with fears of lesbian death to explore the value of lesbian beyond identity

In Lesbian Death, Mairead Sullivan probes the perception that lesbian status is in retreat, exploring the political promises—and failures—of lesbian feminism and its usefulness today. Sullivan reads how lesbian is conceptualized in relation to death from the 1970s onward, arguing that lesbian offers disruptive potential and offering a fresh perspective on her value for feminist and queer projects.

The loss of lesbian spaces, as well as ideas of the lesbian as anachronistic, has called into question the place of lesbian identity within our current culture. In Lesbian Death, Mairead Sullivan probes the perception that lesbian status is in retreat, exploring the political promises—and especially the failures—of lesbian feminism and its usefulness today.

Lesbian Death reads how lesbian is conceptualized in relation to death from the 1970s onward to argue that lesbian offers disruptive potential. Lesbian Death examines the rise of lesbian breast cancer activism in San Francisco in conversation with ACT UP, the lesbian separatist manifestos “The C.L.I.T. Papers,” the enduring specter of lesbian bed death, and the weaponization of lesbian identity against trans lives.

By situating the lesbian as a border figure between feminist and queer, Lesbian Death offers a fresh perspective on the value of lesbian for both feminist and queer projects, even if her value is her death.

Cover alt text: Background covered entirely by yellow text, quoting the reasons the author wrote this book; the main title in black follows the block of text

Mairead Sullivan is associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Loyola Marymount University.

About This Book