Kate the Great: In praise of Kate Bornstein

Kate Bornstein's A Queer and Present DangerBY AMY LAMÉ
Curve

Kate Bornstein is my heroine. Her books have been milestones in my life, offering advice, ideas, and inspiration at key moments when everything seemed destined for doom. My first great Kate encounter was “Gender Outlaw,” which served as my bible in the early to mid 1990s, when the war on the frontlines of gender politics was particularly fierce, and I felt like an outsider in my own community. Kate’s soothing words assured me that she’d always be there with a cup of tea and a well-padded shoulder to cry on. The fact that Kate grew up–as Al–just a few miles away from me in New Jersey made me feel an even closer kinship. I then encountered “Hidden: A Gender,” a performance piece based on Kate’s own life experience and that of the 19th-century intersex Herculine Barbin.

Kate Bornstein via LGBTJewishHeroes.org

Kate Bornstein via LGBTJewishHeroes.org

So, with Kate’s latest book, “A Queer and Pleasant Danger” (Beacon Press), I was expecting life-changing stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. It is punchy and provocative, full of mirth and melancholy. From growing up male on the Jersey Shore (eat your heart out, The Situation!) to marrying, becoming a Scientologist, transitioning, moving to San Francisco to live with radical sex-positive femmes and then to New York to follow love, Kate’s journey is a blueprint for how to live without compromise but with heaps of compassion.

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