urvashi’s new book!

June 18th, 2012 | Other Projects


Irresistible Revolution: Confronting race, class and the assumptions of LGBT politics is coming out from Magnus Press in July! Here’s the synopsis:

From one of the nation’s best-known social justice leaders and community activists comes a strategic and informed argument about the pitfalls of limited political vision, and the benefits of an agenda that encompasses, yet moves beyond, equality.


Magnus is a small, independent press. Pre-orders help a lot in terms of the number of books each vendor orders from the publisher. Through these links you can order it from Women and Children First, Powells.com, Amazon.com, or Barnes and Noble.

39 Responses to “urvashi’s new book!”

  1. Alex K says:

    To see you posting cheers me. I think that it means you have more energy, are more out-going. I hope that I’m right.

  2. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    This is wonderful! I’m glad you’re in a position to read somebody else’s book after reading your own out loud to dozens and dozens of appreciative fans and after teaching your craft to dozens of appreciative students. Don’t tell me you’re becoming an academic!

  3. sarah from Marseille says:

    Dear Mrs. Bechdel,

    My name’s Sarah, I live in Marseille, France, and became a fan of your work four-five years ago, about the time the french version of Fun Home was released. I’ve been totally captivated by it and bought the Essential Dykes to Watch Out For shortly after. (The original version, of course, it is not yet translated in my country. In France, gays and straights are currently struggling against a bunch of tiresome old conservatives to make them accept the idea of Gay Marriage. Hope things will get better with our new president. ) Needless to say, it met my expectations. I have just finished “Are You My Mother” today . It is a “chef d’oeuvre”, period. Complex, moving, sometimes funny but serious and without any clichés about the complicated structures of Mother- Daughter or Parent-Child relationship. You gave me hope that one day I may be able to write something half that good. That hope may seem selfish and arrogant (and maybe you have heard it too often from people like me), but anyway, you gave it to me with your incredible work.

    With all my admiration and respect,


    PS: I wanted to email it to you for more discretion, but couldn’t find it !

  4. Andrew B says:

    Sarah, 3, your English is much, much better than my French. But one small point: in English, “Mrs.” is reserved for married women. It’s not a general term of respect for a woman who’s older than the speaker. I don’t speak for Alison, but I’m certain she’d prefer “Ms.”. It was invented by women who thought that a woman’s marital status shouldn’t matter to her identity any more than a man’s did. All men are “Mr.”, whether or not they’re married.

    I don’t know what’s available in France, but if possible, try to track down some of the individual DTWOF collections. Some material had to be omitted to make “Essential” a manageable size. Often the strips that were left out were the ones that gave DTWOF its unique flavor.

    Alison does provide an email address in the “Contact” link, top right. It’s written out, e.g. with “at” for “@”, presumably to avoid spam.

  5. makky says:

    Alison might enjoy “Madame”. Sweet and sincere. It would be nice to hear more here on what is going on in other countries. Thanks!

  6. Sarah from Marseille says:

    To Andrew B.

    Thank you for your kind comment. I knew I should have used “Ms.” It’s been a little while since I wrote a proper letter to an english-speaking woman! I’ll try the email.
    Thank you kindly,

  7. sarah from Marseille says:

    Huhuh, life is not so sweet for gays in France… They are defended and respected but only up to a certain point ! The main struggle is civil rights about adoption and marriage. A majority of french (whether they are gay or not) wants things to improve and those rights to be respected but, hey, it is still a conservative country.But anyway, it is still a gay-friendly country… most of the time…

  8. yelena says:

    Did anyone listen to the Slate Audio Book Club discussion Are You My Mother? It’s here. I thought some of Meghan O’Rourke’s comments about AB’s use of psychoanalysis were really interesting, especially in response to some of the criticism that the book doesn’t have a pay-off. (Though I disagree with the criticism, obvs.) Anyway, worth a listen!

  9. Andrew B says:

    Yelena, 8, your link somehow disappeared. If people go here and find AYMM on the list of contents, I think they will be listening to the discussion you’re citing. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

    I have to say, listening to that made me feel really, really old, and not in a good way. I googled Meghan O’Rourke and she’s obviously a very smart, creative, accomplished young woman; but if anybody is tempted to accept what she says about Helen Bechdel’s “choices”, read Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. And continually remind yourself that at the time, it was considered radical and outrageous. And that it came out four years after Alison’s mother married her father.

    I hope that doesn’t sound condescending to O’Rourke. We make choices in contexts that make some choices reasonable and others pipe dreams. Coming out of Lock Haven State around 1957, Helen Fontana just wasn’t going to be Helen Vendler. (There’s also a point about class lurking here.) Her “choices” reflected a realistic appraisal of what was available to her.

    And Yelena, I’m not sure you and I are disagreeing. Of the many things O’Rourke said, that was the one that really hit me over the head. It doesn’t mean everything she said was wrong.

  10. shadocat says:

    oh crap-completely.COMPLETELY!!!

  11. Kate L says:

    shadocat (#9)please allow me to be the first to say of the linked slideshow (1900’s You May Be A Lesbian If…) OH, BABY! OH, BABY!!! Seriously, in 1900 they thought a woman preferring a laboratory to a kitchen was a sure sign of lesbianism? OMG!I guess this slideshow would be funny if the Kansas legislature weren’t currently considering making it part of the state constitution.

  12. Kate L says:

    I guess we all have had THIS coming out experience…

  13. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Kate, that coming out video is hysterical. I particularly like the after comment, which I will not quote, not wishing to spoil the experience for others. Three stars (out of three)!!

    And Cathy, I like Wordsworth. Good job, Paris Review!

  14. Dr. Empirical says:

    Shadowcat: The comments section introduced me to the term “Dyke Swagger”. Wish I’d known it years ago.

  15. Andrew B says:

    Geeks and others might enjoy looking at today’s (June 23’s) animated Google Doodle. In commemoration of Alan Turing’s hundredth birthday, it’s an animated representation of a Turing Machine. If you have any interest in gay history you should know who Turing was. (Google him! But be aware, the way his life ended will make you angry and/or sad.) If you claim to be a geek you should know what a Turing Machine is — and even for normal people, it’s interesting to understand the basic idea. (Goo… well, you know.)

  16. shadocat says:

    Kate L.:Can totally understand preferring the laboratory, and loved the video! Now I’m on to googling Turing; back for more later!

  17. Anonymous says:

    #14: And then there’s African-American comedian/activist Wanda Sykes’ stand-up routine: “Mom,I..I’ve…got something to tell you. I-I’m Black!”
    “Oh no! I KNEW I shouldn’t have let you watch SOUL TRAIN!”

    *Soul Train was a 70s TV show featuring Black youths dancing to soul,rock and R & B music,and sometimes included interviews with performing musicians like Diana Ross and Smoky Robinson. It was in response to the squeaky clean (and all white for many years)American Bandstand hosted by white bread dude Dick Clark.

  18. NLC says:

    For those who haven’t seen it, the “essay” in this week’s (24Jun) NYTimes Book Review is by Christopher Bram and is titled “From This Day Forward: Marriage in Gay and Lesbian Fiction”.

    I’ll let interested folks read it, but here’s the relevant paragraph:

    There may be women couples in open marriages, but it’s less common. The lesbian specialty in fictional married life is to remain best friends with exes. “The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For,” by Alison Bechdel, explores this territory nicely. A grand novel in comic-strip form, the book follows Mo and her friends as they find lovers, break up, recombine (one even marries a man) and raise children over more than two decades. Their marriage bonds are surprisingly flexible; what remains constant is the extended family of friends.

  19. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Just to document what Ms. Anonymous mentioned, here is Ms. Sykes coming out to her parents:

    I knew I shouldn’t have let you watch Soul Train!

  20. Feminista says:

    To quote Virginia Woolf,”anonymous was often a woman.” Well,I was Ms. Anonymous above; don’t know what happened to my handle. And thanks,Therry,for putting in th’ missing link.

  21. Feminista says:

    To quote Virginia Woolf,”anonymous was often a woman.” Well,I was Ms. Anonymous above; don’t know what happened to my handle. And thanks,Therry,for putting in th’ missing link.

    And then there’s 4th generation socialist organizer Josh Healey coming out as straight. He’s a hiphop poet/stand-up comedian/educator based in Oakland,CA. I’m reading the autobiography of his late grandma,Dorothy Ray Healey,who I had the fortune to meet some 30 years ago.

  22. hairball_of_hope says:

    The front page of today’s online Wall Street Journal (6/25/12) has a slideshow of LGBT Pride around the world:


    We’ve come a long way, baby.

    (… goes back to sipping her tea on a rainy Monday morning …)

  23. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hey, Feminista, you did it again! I went straight to Youtube and found Josh Healey coming out to his parents as straight. It’s not as funny as Wanda Sykes, but it’s okay for a white dude. Here it is!

    Do you really hate going through the motions to imbed a link? That’s okay — I got your back!

  24. Andrew B says:

    Speaking of Wanda Sykes… I happened to catch a snippet of a celebrity poker tournament on tv a few years ago, before they sank into much deserved obscurity. The players included Sykes and Jerome Bettis. Bettis, for those who don’t waste their time on such things, was a very good American football player — a huge man, over 240 pounds/110 kilos, whose position in the game involved running face first into men even bigger than he was — and Sykes had him completely intimidated. I wish I could remember specifics for you, but his general demeanor was of someone who was trying to be as nice as he possibly could in hopes he wouldn’t get too badly beaten. It was a hell of a show of how one person can intimidate another simply through attitude and verbal skills.

    (For those tempted to reach for a cliché, Bettis is not stupid. He’s actually relatively bright and articulate, as people go. It wasn’t that easy.)

  25. hairball_of_hope says:

    Not exactly on topic…

    The article headline speaks for itself:

    Lesbian Teen Couple Found Shot In Texas Park, 1 Survives


    Quoting from the article:

    Police in Texas are searching for an assailant who targeted a teenaged lesbian couple in a close-range shooting that left one woman dead and the other in the hospital; authorities said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

    “The families are devastated, obviously, but there’s really no information that we’ve been able to determine yet that would indicate there was anyone who would want to do this to either of those girls,” Police Chief Randy Wright told ABC News’ Corpus Christi affiliate.

    In knee-high grass near a scenic lookout at Violet Andrews Park on Saturday morning, police say a couple discovered the bodies of the two women, who friends say were dating.

    Police believe both women were shot in the head around midnight. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene. Chapa was taken to a local hospital and has since regained consciousness.

    Excuse me, “…the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.“? Two young lesbians each shot in the head at close range on Pride weekend, and “…there’s really no information that we’ve been able to determine yet that would indicate there was anyone who would want to do this to either of those girls…“?

    What planet is this police chief from? I vote to send him back there, pronto, without benefit of a spaceship.

    (… goes back to venting outrage …)

  26. Marsha says:

    Alison was in my dream last night. I was working at some kind of small upscale cafe as a dishwasher and she was there to do a reading.

  27. Kate L says:

    The U.S. Supreme Court has just upheld President Obama’s health care reform, including the mandate. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion. I saw this first on liberal news sites… for some reason, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel has yet to update this morning’s “NObamacare” lead…

  28. shadocat says:

    Never thought I’d say this, but right now, at this point in time, I love me som John Roberts!

  29. Pam I says:

    Blog swerve – pancakes and bacon and many opinions on how to do them – feel free to chip in there.

  30. Kate L says:

    Oh, shadocat, today which one of us doesn’t have a crush on John Roberts??? 🙂 I think MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had it right. Catholics (like Roberts, like Matthews – and me, for that matter) who grew up in the early 1960’s and the reforms of Second Vatican Council were taught very intensively about the social welfare mission of the Church. Matthews believes that Roberts was looking for a way to preserve the extension of health care to millions who do not now have it, and he found a reason.

  31. Kate L says:

    … and Chief Justice Roberts does have dreamy eyes, too.

  32. shadocat says:

    …especially when he’s ruling on healthcare…

  33. acilius says:

    That sounds like a terrific book!

  34. shadocat says:

    Fifty shades of justice?

  35. hairball_of_hope says:

    Speaking of justice (and Justices), here’s a nice review of Linda Hirshman’s “Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution”:


    Quoting from the article:

    Most Americans over 40 have experienced the forward march of gay rights as the product of a gradual change in the social air. Hirshman, a retired professor and labor lawyer with a Ph.D. in philosophy, is more interested in the movement’s legislative and judicial ups and downs, and she’s got an opinion about every one of them.

    She flays the obvious villains (Lewis Powell, Sam Nunn) and a few surprising ones (Tom Hayden). She goes after some of the heroes, too, for making strategic decisions she considers inept.

    Nor does she get misty about the otherwise courageous men who laid the foundations of the movement in the frightening days before Stonewall but were tone-deaf to feminism and, in some cases, just plain didn’t like women.


    Although Hirshman acknowledges that “Victory” is a title open to misinterpretation, her rationale for using it is clear. Her book demonstrates that the reversal in social attitudes toward gay men and lesbians, despite various (but always temporary) political and judicial setbacks, is itself irreversible.

    When the question of marriage lands before the Supreme Court, it could disgrace itself with a repeat of Bowers v. Hardwick. But Hirshman very skillfully shows that, even if it does, down the road a court drawn from a less bigoted generation will inevitably send such a warped decision into the dustbin of history.

    (… goes back to polishing up her campaign button, “It’s the SCOTUS, stupid” …”

  36. Kate L says:

    hairball (#37) Pay no attention to those Supreme Court justices behind the curtain! The GOP would much rather have you attend Republican state senator Marty Golden’s short course, “Posture, Deportment and the Feminine Presence(!)” Although I’m not sure what all state senator Golden (a man) knows about how to “Walk up and down a stair elegantly”, I’m sure that he and his cohort would much rather have everyone discuss that rather than, oh, say, equal pay? What? What’s that? State senator Golden canceled the big event??? Now, I’ll never learn how to comport myself like a lady! DAMMIT!!!

  37. Chase says:

    that her book is an “intricate structure, based on books that her fteahr was obsessed with.” The works of Camus, Joyce, Ulysses, Colette and Proust are intertwined into the narrative and the literary allusion, the influence of literature on life, and the influence of life on the interpretation of literature play a prominent role in the text. During a slide show presentation of pages from her book, Bechdel read a chapter entitled “The Artificer”, which speaks volumes about the underlying pathos of her fteahr. Bruce Bechdel was employed as a high school English teacher and was the town’s (Beech Creek, PA) funeral home director (one meaning for the “fun home” of the title), and Bechdel notes that her fteahr “appeared an ideal husband.” Aside from some epochally misguided escapades with local teenagers, Bechdel obsessively channeled his energies into the florid renovation of the family’s gothic revival house. ”He used his skillful artifice not to make things, but to make things appear to be what they were not,” Bechdel says. She continued, ”My fteahr began to seem morally suspect to me long before I knew that he actually had a dark secret.” While earnestly contemplating how to come out to her parents as a lesbian while in her freshman year at Oberlin College, Bechdel learned that her fteahr was engaging in sexual relations with underage teenage boys and even had a run-in with the law for serving alcohol to minors. Bechdel also laments the fact that her fteahr was at best emotionally distant and at worst verbally abusive. “My fteahr treated his furniture like children and his children like furniture.” says Bechdel. “He was emotionally absent and while he was alive, I ached as if he were already gone.” She also spoke of the “fully developed self-loathing” of her fteahr that manifested itself in the form of a man “obsessed with his appearance” while showing “no physical form of affection” to his children. What seems to have irked Bechdel the most was the subtle dishonesty, outright lies and appearances of “normalcy” that her fteahr attempted to extol. Because of this Bechdel says she “developed a fetish for the truth, for detailed authenticity”. “Appearances are deceiving and I wanted to be upfront about being gay. I’ve always felt the tension between being an outsider and being accepted and I wanted everyone to know that I was a ‘big dyke’.” she says. For Bechdel, becoming an artist and writer meant, “bridging symbol and reality. Images and words solved a problem of self-obliteration.” In the last segment of the evening Bechdel revealed the technical aspects of the creative process in the making of “Fun Home” by showing a most fascinating and informative slide show of the convergence of panels and words in her work and even a mini-video of herself drawing and painting the characters and scenes from her home drawing board. The evening concluded with Ms. Bechdel autographing copies of “Fun Home” and “Dykes To Watch Out For” for her legions of loyal and devoted fans, and did so until “the cows came home” as she stated on her blog. Bechdel’s face appeared visibly worn as the evening wound down. Despite it all, she graciously greeted the seemingly endless line of admirers. While most writers on a book tour relish the notoriety, lavish attention, adulation and accolades bestowed upon them, it would appear that being the subject of such praise is a most daunting task for Bechdel. As she confided to one woman, “I’m really an introvert.”