THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR by Lindsy Van Gelder


Into the Heart of Lesbian America
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 Journalists Van Gelder and Brandt (Are You Two . . . Together?, not reviewed) take a perceptive and thoroughly entertaining nationwide tour of '90s lesbian America. Lesbians--long rendered invisible by sexism, homophobia, and gay male culture's (real and perceived) outrageousness--have in recent years suddenly been ``discovered'' by mainstream America. Celebrities like Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang have come out, while the media has declared lesbians ``chic.'' Meanwhile, lesbian culture itself has changed; younger lesbians are experimenting with lipstick, sex toys, and sometimes even men. Here Van Gelder and Brandt, a monogamous couple for 18 years, approach lesbians of varied ages and lifestyles with open minds and sharp wits. We meet a dominatrix in her dungeon, two ex-nuns having a church wedding, hundreds of topless women at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, several vanfuls of Lesbian Avengers, and glitzily fashionable babes at the Dinah Shore Golf Classic. These and the many, many other women introduced are articulate and eager to talk about lesbian identity, their relationship to lesbian community, the new visibility, desire, sex, butch/femme, activism, softball, and parenting. Some of the most moving moments are intergenerational. For example, Giselle, a young go-go dancer, describes the pain of going on a talk show and being pitted against an old-time activist (presumably the producers were hoping for a catfight); she explained to the host, ``Look, you would really love me to argue with my sister here. . . . She did the footwork for me. If it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't be able to sit here and be a lipstick lesbian.'' As accessible as a glossy magazine article but also smart, funny, and sexually frank. The interviews have the relaxed intimacy of a chat with old friends; lesbians, bisexuals, and curious straights should find it at once illuminating and welcoming.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-81118-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


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by Tricia Yost