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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

16. The Search For Identity

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- Toni Cade Bambara
- Sandra Cisneros
- Judith Ortiz Cofer
- Leslie Feinberg
- Diane Glancy
- Maxine Hong Kingston
- David Mamet
- Toni Morrison
- Thomas Pynchon
- Alice Walker
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Leslie Feinberg (1949 - 2014)

Leslie Feinberg Speaking at Madison Square Garden Theater as a Founder of Rainbow Flags for Mumia
[7947] Deirdre Griswold Strapp, Leslie Feinberg Speaking at Madison Square Garden Theater as a Founder of Rainbow Flags for Mumia (2000), courtesy of Deirdre Strapp.

Leslie Feinberg Activities
This link leads to artifacts, teaching tips and discussion questions for this author.
Like her character Jess Goldberg, Leslie Feinberg was born in Buffalo, New York, where she grew up before the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, which many observers consider the watershed moment in the twentieth-century movement to secure the rights of nonheterosexual people. Feinberg struggled to find her identity in a culture that seemingly had no place for her as a transgendered individual. A journalist and author as well as an activist for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals, she has stated that her written work is often an attempt to answer her own questions about why some people feel that they need to punish those who are different.

Following in the tradition of writers like Toni Cade Bambara, Feinberg's novel Stone Butch Blues endorses the belief that writing can be revolutionary. Simply by sharing this story with others, Feinberg extends her activist reach by educating her readers. In Stone Butch Blues, she combines autobiography and fiction in a narrative structured as a letter to an ex-girlfriend. Her character Jess Goldberg struggles to come to terms with her identity and sexuality in a society that provides no models and no safe refuge for her. Thus, even as its startling depictions of brutality and cruelty may be uncomfortable for some readers, the novel answers a need in the queer community for testimonials that establish a common history and reveal stories that had for so long remained untold.

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