The following interview, which was conducted by Sebastian Mohr (Danish School of Education, Aarhus University), took place in Esther Newton’s office at the University of Michigan on November 18, 2013, twenty years after Cultural Anthropology published Newton’s essay “My Best Informant’s Dress: The Erotic Equation in Fieldwork.” The essay explores Newton’s emotional attachments to and love for her main informant, Kay. More than a mere chronicle of a sexual or emotional exploit, the essay highlights the element of passion, or what Newton called “the erotic equation,” in anthropological fieldwork. It remains a pioneering exposition of how nonnormative attachments can play out in the field without the tacit bolstering of masculinist and reproductive futurities and without fetishizing the divide between the personal and the professional.

This interview can be read in dialogue with the “Queer Anthropology” Retrospectives collection in the November 2016 issue of Cultural Anthropology. The collection’s editor, Martin Manalansan, writes that Newton’s work is “precisely a roadmap of her long struggle to place the methodological importance of erotics, intimacies, and emotional states that made queer anthropology possible. Newton’s struggles around publication, employment, tenure, and visibility in the field are material manifestations of the violence and power of heteronormativity. Her admonition to ‘bring all of ourselves’ to fieldwork and other professional experiences is a call to queer the discipline, to funk up and mess up an otherwise staid academic field and to go beyond being ‘just an anthropologist.’”

Sebastian Mohr: What I would like to discuss is the turn that anthropological discussions about methodology and epistemology take if we consider erotic encounters in the field as a starting point or, more generally, what emotional engagements with our informants in the field can represent. What would it mean if we took those as a starting point, rather than as a postfieldwork methodological reflection? To begin, though, let's go back to the 1990 session on “Lesbian/Gay Identity” at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in New Orleans. It was there, as I understand it, that you first presented your thinking on the erotic equation in fieldwork. How did that session come about?

Esther Newton: It was one of the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists (SOLGA) panels. We got to a point where we had one or two panels every year, and that was the name of the one that year. I had these ideas and I wanted to get them off my chest, so I just did. In the context of my fieldwork in Cherry Grove, it was very important that I was gay and that the people I was dealing with were gay. First of all, in a practical sense because of the rapport, they accepted me as being gay. They were suspicious of me as an intellectual, though, because most of them weren’t intellectuals themselves. They didn’t really know what that meant. You don’t automatically belong completely, even if you have something similar like being gay, and, you know, I was used to that because I hadn’t been the same as the drag queens in Mother Camp (Newton 1972). We had this common thing that I stressed, at the time, in dealing with them. But I couldn’t write about it because it was impossible to come out back then.

I have to somewhat guess at what the overall importance of the article has been for anthropology, because people don’t really write about this. They don’t write about why, for example, they pick a particular field. It’s a question that other people may have, but when I was in graduate school, nobody ever talked about why. It might be coincidental. My mentor David Schneider, for example, had been in the Pacific with the Navy during World War II. He got interested in the Pacific in that way. Some of the professors at that time would talk about coincidental things in their lives as a reason why they picked a particular field. Even that was rare. But nobody talked about the real reasons. In a way, this was to my advantage in graduate school because if I can’t ask you why you’re interested in your particular field, then you can’t ask me why I’m interested in gay people.

SM: There was no established norm that held anthropologists responsible for articulating why they were interested in something.

EN: Yes, you didn’t talk about it. And if you don’t talk about why you chose a particular field, then I’m not going to talk about why either. People couldn’t even ask me, “Why are you interested in that?” As I’m saying, I used that to my advantage at that time. After I had come out in the academic context, though, it was extremely important to me to talk about why I picked the field that I did. I always felt very badly about the fact that I did not come out in my first book, Mother Camp. The reason why I felt so badly about it is that I’ve always been committed to honesty, even to the point where people wish I wasn’t. Sometimes I can be tactless and say things that I shouldn't say, things that are too blunt. I didn’t exactly lie when I talked about my fieldwork methods, but I left out a very critical point: the fact that I had presented myself to the drag queens as gay, and how important that was to them. Talk about methodology: that seemed really important, but I couldn’t say that. It always really bothered me.

SM: Was it already bothering you while you were writing Mother Camp?

EN: Yes, it did. I never thought, “Okay, I'm going to do this and I don't care.” I wanted a job. Of course, there was gossip about it. I remember I was at a faculty–graduate student party in Chicago after I had gotten my PhD. They decided they wanted to hire a woman. The department, when I was a student there, was all men. They had me and two other women come out to interview for the job. A different woman got it and she had a nervous breakdown. I was glad I didn’t get it. They made her crazy.

At the party when I went for the interview, Victor Turner came up to me. He was drunk and he started questioning me, insinuating something awry: “How come you study those drag queens?” He was so senior, so I didn’t feel like saying, “Well, screw you.” I just tried to deflect it, but I was kind of shocked. That was the level at which why people study their interest was talked about: drunken parties, gossip, all happening behind people’s backs. That was around 1973, maybe, and to bring this around to feminist anthropology more directly, I think that the separation between this is my scientist hat and this is me: women are more likely to find that difficult, separating these parts of themselves. At least I did. Of course, I had special difficulties because of being gay, which I had to hide.

Writing “My Best Informant’s Dress” was an effort to talk about the personal and emotional side of fieldwork as a woman and as a lesbian. This is where I started articulating how, and I can only speak for myself, affective and emotional relationships are always what pulls me in one direction or another, whether it’s intellectual or sexual or whatever. Someone who put this really well was Manda Cesara, otherwise known as Karla Poewe. She studied in West Africa and wrote about the personal side of that (Cesara 1982). She talked about having an African lover as a white woman. She said, “This guy opened the world to me and I don't just mean sexually, emotionally. I mean he opened the world of Lenda.” I knew what she meant because that’s what happened to me at Cherry Grove. My attachment to Kay and Peter (Ruth) not only gave me connections, which you have to have, but also was a key element of my motive power. They helped me understand what was going on and what people really wanted in Cherry Grove. I guess, in writing that paper, I was partly trying to understand if other anthropologists had the same experiences. But I didn’t get very far since, as I wrote in the article, the way men had written about it was so different.

SM: In your paper you mention, among others, Paul Rabinow (1977), who writes about having sex with a woman during fieldwork in Morocco. For him, this erotic encounter seemed to be more about being a real man within his fieldsite. It has a different function than it had for you or for Manda Cesara. Cesara was talking about how the man opened the world to her. I can understand Cesara’s point about how her lover opened the world to her because my encounter with one of my informants in Bulgaria made me understand his world, what it meant to be gay for him at that point in time (Mohr, forthcoming).

EN: That experience must be more common, but I don’t really know. If you go back to Malinowski’s journals, which are my starting point, there you see this radical dissociation between his private and analytical thoughts. He did write about sexuality, true, but he had this impersonal narrator voice, godlike, which is associated with science and is more masculine and so on. We would have never known if his wife hadn’t published those journals (Malinowski 1967). I was amazed when I saw the response to his journals from all of these men. Male anthropologists were like, “This isn’t science and this has no place in anthropology.” They were really pissed, except for Clifford Geertz. His reaction was more nuanced. A lot of the response to that was a turn to reflexivity that was so abstract: “Okay, now I have to take into account that it’s me who’s writing this.” The Writing Culturedebates were not really relating to emotional or even erotic dimensions of understanding a certain lifeworld. It’s very difficult to capture the essence of another civilization or culture, or even a subculture, just in text and words.

SM: Yes, I would agree. When I talk to students or, for that matter, to other anthropologists about the importance of emotional relationships for understanding the field and the lifeworlds one is interested in, I often get the question “why would it be important to talk about sex?” And then I reply: "Well, it doesn’t mean that it has to be important. It can be important if it makes you realize something, if it helps you understand something about the field. That might be the case or not. It depends on your experience. If it is important, then it should be part of your ethnographic account, because it helped you to understand something.” But when it comes to sex as part of fieldwork, people often shy away from it.

EN: Talking about the emotional, the role that emotions and bodies play, to me, is more optional than writing about sexuality, because sexuality is such a hugely important part of human culture. The whole attitude of why should we write about it? is part of most European-derived cultures. It goes back to early Christianity, which is something that I teach, the body as gross and disgusting and the soul as pure. Also the dichotomy between the sexes and their association with either culture or nature, whereby women are associated with physicality and sex, are something to be used. The woman in Rabinow’s account wasn’t important in herself. She was important to prove that he was Mr. Studly in his relationship with his informants. Maybe this kind of dynamic goes back to what Gayle Rubin (1975) describes in “The Traffic in Women,” that women are often seen as just a medium of exchange in the relationship between men. Anyway, I’m very glad that people encouraged me to turn my presentation at the 1990 panel into an article for Cultural Anthropology. I think it’s some of my best work.

SM: Yes, it pays so much attention to the really fine details of anthropological work, and the tribute that you gave to Kay is so moving. You can feel the tenderness of the relationship.

EN: Yeah, I loved her. On the other hand, as an anthropologist, you’re not a propagandist. You must maintain a part of your brain that is detached and that can ask the relevant questions and make the relevant critiques. That’s a hard balance on many levels. For example, one of the things that struck me about Cherry Grove early on was how much people drank and what a huge role alcohol had in their stories about what went on in the 1930s, 40s, 50s. I decided that I would write a chapter about that. When I showed it to Peter (Ruth), who was my closest friend there, she was horrified. She wasn’t a drinker herself but she said, “Oh, you’re going to make us look bad to the straight people.” Then I had to balance her worries with my own sense of obligation. “Okay,” I decided, “I’m not going to whitewash this.” It was the honesty and the critique versus my love for her and for the community, and how to handle that. I never did write a whole chapter about it, but I did write about it.

SM: How was that received?

EN: After Cherry Grove, Fire Island (Newton 1993) was published, I gave a book party in the Grove to sell books, but also to do a slideshow, to give something back to the community. What people really were interested in, though, was to go to the index and look for their own names. That was the big thing. I haven’t gotten into many in-depth discussions with people in the Grove about much of anything. They were most interested in whether their name was mentioned. I did not want to use pseudonyms if I didn’t have to. I gave everyone a choice. They had to sign a release and they had a choice: their own name, full name, their first name, a complete pseudonym if they wanted. In the end, after they thought about it, almost everybody said, “Use my name, my real name.” They were proud and they wanted to be associated with the community. So that’s what I did.

SM: In that context, it was important not to be eliminated from the account by assigning a pseudonym, because it was also seen as an account of gay and lesbian life at a time which was not as liberal as it is today.

EN: Absolutely. They were outcasts, and they knew that. Looking back on it, they thought, “Hey, I did something. I was a part of history and I want to be remembered that way.” The only people, with one exception, who did not want their last names used were the richest ones. It’s all about class. They had famous last names and they didn’t want to be recognized.

SM: You mentioned earlier that when you were doing fieldwork among the female impersonators, you tried to come to terms with your own gay identity. Reading Mother Camp now, I can see that very much in the way you write, the way you describe certain things. One has to do with the performance of masculinity or, in the case of the impersonators, to be able to switch roles from being on-stage and off-stage, controlling themselves, disciplining themselves in the sense of when I’m not on stage, I am going to be a man. When I’m on stage, I’m going to be a woman. You later relate this to your own experience as a butch lesbian in academia, always having a hard time conforming to certain expectations of what an academic woman should be, look like, behave like.

EN: I was very familiar with performing, because I had faked being a woman for a long, long time. By that, I’m not referring to my biology, I’m referring to femininity. That was huge when I was in high school, and I tried to study it. It was like, “How do they do it?” I just didn’t know how to pull it off, but I learned as best as I could. You had to. I was very, very familiar with the management of identity. Reading Erving Goffman (1959) had a huge influence on me. He talks about the management of personal information and the management of your appearance so that you can pass in certain situations. To me, the drag queens were larger-than-life instances of putting on and taking off. One of the best moments was when they would pull their wigs off and the crowd would go, “Ah!” I was fascinated by them, loved them. I mean, doing fieldwork is really difficult. I understand that people just want to finish their PhD and get done. But I don’t understand how they do it if they don’t love something about their field. It has to do with being fully engaged in your subject. And I can’t imagine that happens only as an intellectual. It certainly is intellectual, but where is the energy coming from for all our intellectual feats? I mean, Freud said that life-energy itself is libido, right, and I subscribe to that and I think even people in the hard sciences are motivated by passions.

SM: Yeah, I believe so as well. But one thing is to acknowledge for oneself that passion is part of one’s scientific quest, and another is how to make a valid point about that being important beyond one’s own reflections. How do you make a valid point that this is also important for a discipline as a whole?

EN: That’s a really good question. I would say, in one way or another, that’s perhaps the least successful aspect of my essay. Even if you ask me today, I'm not 100 percent sure how to answer that question. I know it’s important for me because it’s really kind of a blind faith, and it has to do with transparency and honesty. In a way, it gets down to pedagogy and teaching and I think certain aspects of my education were very deficient and one of the most deficient was methodology. That was one of the worst. It was like, “Okay, go out there and do it. Bye.” The most useful thing I was told about methods and how to do fieldwork was by my mentor David Schneider. He said that you have to keep records and notes, and, of course, they were typewritten in those days. You had to keep a carbon copy of every field note that you wrote and send it back to your mentor because as David told me, E. E. Evans-Pritchard lost all his field notes on a passage through the Red Sea due to a storm. That is the one thing I remember about methods.

From a pedagogical point of view, I think it is extremely important that students actually learn something about the realities, both difficult and pleasurable, of doing fieldwork. In that sense, the top-notch education I received at the University of Chicago was terrible. In terms of writing about it, I’m not as sure. Of course, there is also a pedagogical aspect to that, but it really raises a bigger question about how disciplines are gendered, because it’s definitely a masculine point of view that emotional engagements should not be part of the process. A feminine point of view would probably be more like, I know that’s important, but I don’t dare write about it. It would also question: Is anthropology a science, or is it interpretive, more like art? I honestly think it’s both. I don’t have a ready answer as to why it’s important to write about it. I know I wanted to write about it and I feel that it’s important, but it’s hard for me to say why.

SM: Regarding the researcher’s emotional or even sexual experience as important for the scientific endeavor, a discipline such as anthropology could risk losing its standing as an academic discipline, considering that ethnography already has to face the charge of subjectivity from a larger public which often equates scientific work with objectivity.

EN: I agree. That’s what I was just talking about. The thing is then, what case can we make that bodily knowledge and emotional knowledge is critical to understanding? Even though I think that’s right, I haven’t fully succeeded in articulating why.

SM: It’s a critical question, even within academic environments that are considered to be more open to such epistemological and methodological experiments. Some parts of feminism, for example, have a problematic history in regard to integrating sexuality as part of an analytical framework. If you go back to the 1970s and the early 1980s, you have the “sex wars” and the debates about pornography at that time, when discussions about sexuality as an objectification of women ensued.

EN: Both sides in that discussion gave sexuality huge importance. Both sides thought it was very important. Andrea Dworkin’s (1981) position that all heterosexuality leads to objectification and domination, was, in fairness, I think the most extreme position in the pornography camp. Most of the focus was on pornography rather than all of heterosexuality, at least explicitly. The fight was about whether sexual pleasure was important, and that whole battle is descended from the nineteenth-century double standard and concepts of purity and so on. The porn people were all focused on protecting women and purity, and the other group (of which I was part) was more about choices and sexual freedom and saying that, yes, pornography was sexist, but it wasn’t the root of all male domination.

SM: Having that kind of experience in the 1980s, did that lead up to then being able to write about the erotic equation in fieldwork? Did the whole discussion about sexuality within feminism play a role in that?

EN: Yeah, it did. For me the Barnard Conference (see Stein 2008; Love 2011) was critical because prior to that, I was very alienated from academia and I did very little scholarly work in the 1970s. I wrote about this in Margaret Mead Made Me Gay (Newton 2000) and in my memoir, My Butch Career, which I am working on now. One big factor was all the social movements at the time, antiwar movements, civil rights, women’s liberation, all that was like, “Oh, my God, we need a complete revolution,” while simultaneously feeling like “I'm just trying to get a foothold in this world, which is corrupt.” That’s how I saw it, as sort of dead on its feet.

The other part of it, though, paradoxically, was when my book came out, it went nowhere. One person reviewed it and that one person was a closeted gay man, a sociologist, Edward Sagarin, who himself had published The Homosexual in America, a book about the gay world at the time, under the pseudonym Donald Webster Cory (1951). He denounced my book for promoting identity politics. Other than that, it just sank like a stone. Then I got fired from my first job for being a feminist, but there were undertones, you know, I wasn’t out, but I think they suspected it. Then I almost was fired from my second job. Those were the key experiences. I don’t know what would have happened had my book come out and people had said, “wow, this is great,” but the opposite happened. I just was really turned off and I spent most of the 1970s in Paris. I wanted to be a novelist, a creative artist.

Then in 1982, the Barnard Conference pulled me back into academia and I started thinking and researching along those lines again. Another thing that happened was that publishing opened up for gay and lesbian scholars and you could start getting work published. The only reason my dissertation was published earlier was because of my mentor, David Schneider. He made that happen. So, absolutely, the Barnard Conference was a key event. The other thing was that I got involved with SOLGA, which was then the Anthropological Research Group on Homosexuality (ARGOH). We became this network of gay and lesbian feminist scholars, some of whom were inside academia and some of whom were outside, who conceived of our work as having a community, a political agenda. So then I had an audience. It comes down to that in a way. I suddenly had an audience. I had no audience before. Anthropology wasn’t interested in the work I had done and, for the most part, still isn’t.

SM: Considering that Mother Camp was very influential for Judith Butler’s (1990) argument in Gender Trouble, would you say that Mother Camp was published too early?

EN: It was. What happened was that Prentice-Hall actually dropped it after a couple of years. No one bought it; it was nothing. Then it was picked up by the University of Chicago Press in 1979, due to my mentor. From there, people really started to read it. It’s still in print at the University of Chicago Press. It sells. Every year, I get a little check. Eventually, it became this tremendously important work for people who saw themselves as somehow connected to queer anthropology and feminist anthropology. I’m very happy about that, very happy.

But at the time it came out, there was nothing. It was like a vacuum. There was no audience for it. When Judith Butler came along, that was the right historic moment. I remember going to a conference, I think it was Rutgers which started having these conferences of gay and lesbian scholars, and Judith Butler gave a speech in this huge auditorium and you could feel the heat. Talk about emotion! You could just feel all these graduate students. I’ve heard a bunch of people say, “oh, queer theory is so sexy to me,” which I don’t get, but it’s a fact. She had groupies and fans. I don’t think she ever wanted that, but that’s what she had. When she published, it was the right moment. But there's also something to being there before it’s the right moment. She writes in Gender Trouble that the light bulb went off, she read this passage in Mother Camp and thought: wow. Which is great. I’m glad she gave me that credit.

SM: Did the argument in “My Best Informant’s Dress” make it into your teaching, and what did that look like?

EN: No, I think it’s the reverse. When I decided that I couldn’t permanently move to France and that I wasn’t going to be a novelist, I decided I was going to change my teaching. I started offering a course on the anthropology and history of sexuality. I guess, at first, it was a lesbian and gay course during a short semester. Then that split and developed into two courses, one of which I taught for many years as an intro to LGBT studies at SUNY Purchase in the 1980s. The other one was “History of Sexuality in Western Culture.” These were undergraduate courses and that second course became my signature course. I’m still teaching it. I think that working out that course and how to teach it and why it was so important was more formative for my writing that essay than the opposite. For the first time, I was teaching stuff that was so close to my heart.

I think anthropology is an amazing discipline. It’s so formative for how I think about everything. I always believed that teaching anthropology was important, even if it was an intro course. But starting in the 1980s, when my work became more political, I was connected to it in a way that was even more powerful. I especially loved teaching “Intro to LGBT Studies” to eighteen-year-olds, because these were kids who were desperately searching and had all these questions and I could help them, point them in good directions and show them that you could be a role model and all that stuff. I became a much more integrated person and that essay is about integration as a human being and a social scientist.

SM: Which, for some reason, are often thought to be separate from one another . . .

EN: But they really aren’t. That’s a false separation and I think, as a gay person and as a woman, you’re forced to confront that. You’re forced to become much more conscious of it, because it is bodily—I mean, it is very bodily—in our gender presentations, in our interactions, both sexual ones and those that are not. Coming from the place that I came from as a gay person, every situation to me pretty much is either a gay situation or a straight situation. I think there—s more fluidity now, but when I was coming out, there was the gay world and everything else was theirs. When I was in their world, including anthropology, I was always aware of being an alien of some kind.

SM: Do you remember any of the review and editing process or reactions from the editors when you were preparing the manuscript of “My Best Informant’s Dress” for Cultural Anthropology?

EN: I think it was very good. I got a lot of help, as I recall, improving it. Earlier in my career, I wasn’t able to get published; I wrote about that in Margaret Mead Made Me Gay, too. I wrote about all this rejection. I couldn’t get published and the way manuscripts got turned down was like, “oh, this isn’t interesting,” that was the way in which women or gay people got dismissed. It was not like I’m not going to publish this because I'm homophobic. It was I’m not going to publish this, because who cares about this? But by the time that the Cultural Anthropology article was in the works, I got very helpful feedback.

The first peer-reviewed article that I ever got published was a essay about Radclyffe Hall (Newton 1984). I also got excellent help on that. This is one of the problems that minority anthropologists face: you never know where the reviewers’ criticism is coming from. Is it coming from their homophobia or their racism, or do they really want to help you? Usually, you’re not really thinking they want to help you from the kind of criticisms they make, but that’s beside the point. Starting from that article on Radclyffe Hall, I started to get more confidence. Also, these groups of scholars were forming that were interested in the same things, doing a similar kind of work or had the same kind of a vision about what they were doing, and papers sent out to them got a good review. It wasn’t exactly, “oh, I know Newton, she’s good,” but it was like they understood what I was trying to do and they tried to help me make it better. That was great.

SM: Could something like “My Best Informant’s Dress” been published in 1984?

EN: No. I don’t think so, because a lot of the work I did in the 1980s was more focused on a feminist-oriented or LGBT-oriented audience, even though it was scholarly. When writing that piece though, I was really thinking of an anthropological audience. Not that gay and lesbian people wouldn’t be interested, but I was thinking within anthropology when I wrote that piece.

SM: It is interesting that, in 1993, after all of the reflexivity debates, “My Best Informant’s Dress” would be more or less the first piece that makes the argument that emotional states and the erotic context, in particular, are fundamentally important methodologically, for how one does fieldwork, and epistemologically, for how one understands the lifeworlds one is doing research on.

EN: The general public often thinks that anthropology is a very female field, because Margaret Mead is such a prominent figure, but that’s not really true. It is still a very male-dominated field. My inspirations were Margaret Mead, who wrote about sex and had a pretty lurid private life, and Ruth Benedict. Benedict was amazing and she was a lesbian, which of course I didn’t know at the time. They inspired me to think that I could be an anthropologist, which is not so self-evident if you’re a woman. Still, to this day, anthropology carries so much of that colonial legacy with it. You are supposed to go over to them, those savages, as we used to call indigenous people. As a woman and as a gay person, the idea of going to one of those somewhere elses by myself: that was scary. I didn’t really want to do that.

I wound up working in America, and that is one reason why I haven’t gotten respect. Yet, if you were a gay and lesbian anthropologist or a black anthropologist or a Latino anthropologist or an American Indian anthropologist, you had a much bigger incentive to work in your own community, which was maybe not as scary. But even today, the image of a real anthropologist is: you’re wearing a pith helmet and you are eating weird things and living in a hut, you have a big beard. That’s the image of what and who an anthropologist is, still, at least in the popular imagination. And I think that’s very retrograde.

SM: You could say that the whole fieldwork experience is the prime example of what performativity is all about: bringing the anthropologist into being. This notion of going somewhere is so important for anthropological identity building.

EN: Absolutely, and it’s a rite of passage. If you haven’t done it the right way, you’re not really real.

SM: It has been twenty years now since the publication of “My Best Informant’s Dress.” What do you think the impact was?

EN: More people have written about fieldwork experiences. Of course, before I wrote about it, there was Peggy Golde’s (1970) edited collection called Women in the Field, which definitely inspired me. Women wrote about how they dressed more modestly to signal that they weren’t available, that sort of thing. Since then, there's been more. I think I was making up for that bad education I received in terms of methods. I wanted to talk about a real fieldwork experience and what a tremendous role emotion and even sexuality played for me in that experience, for the benefit of young anthropologists so that they could understand better what’s involved.

Also, I was challenging this notion of the impersonal, omniscient narrator, the impersonal scientist. That’s not my experience of who anthropologists are. We’re human beings, and we’re made up of all of these parts and perspectives that are very significant in terms of what we bring to the field. I mean, the anthropologist is the instrument, both of observation and of narration. We bring to that everything that we are. There’s no way that it doesn’t affect what we write.

The argument that I make in that article is for self-awareness. It’s okay that we bring all of ourselves to these experiences, but we should bring the greatest possible awareness of that and not pretend that it doesn’t exist or be completely unconscious that it does exist. I think that’s the key. Whether we write about this or not, that is a choice, I guess. But our own awareness that we bring every part of ourselves to a field experience is part of what makes a really exciting intellectual, you know, as opposed to just an anthropologist.


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_____. 1984. “The Mythic Mannish Lesbian: Radclyffe Hall and the New Woman.” Signs9, no. 4: 557–75.

_____. 1993. Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town. Boston: Beacon Press.

_____. 2000. Margaret Mead Made Me Gay: Personal Essays, Public Ideas. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

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