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We Both Laughed in Pleasure

- The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan, 1961-1991
 Author: Lou Sullivan , Ellis Martin, Susan Stryker, Zach Ozma  Category: Biography & Autobiography, Lammy Winner  Publisher: Nightboat Books  Published: September 24, 2019  ISBN: 9781643620176  Pages: 440  Language: English  Tags: Trans Man / Masc Author |  Alibris  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Bookshop org  Kobo  Publisher  QLL  Find in a Library

We Both Laughed In Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan narrates the inner life of a gay trans man moving through the shifting social, political, and medical mores of the second half of the 20th century. Sullivan kept comprehensive journals from age eleven until his AIDS-related death at thirty-nine. Sensual, lascivious, challenging, quotidian and poetic, the diaries complicate and disrupt normative trans narratives. Entries from twenty-four diaries reveal Sullivan’s self-articulation and the complexity of a fascinating and courageous figure.

Edited by Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma
Preface by Susan Stryker

2020 Transgender Nonfiction Lammy Winner

What others are saying:

“Given how many contemporary trans narratives are rooted in trauma, their choice to foreground trans pleasure and sensuality is celebratory, even radical.”–Jeremy Lybarger, The New Yorker

“An important HIV/AIDS history as well as important as a gay and trans history.”–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“This is a great book by a great person…If I am perhaps too glowing in my praise of Lou, that’s probably because I can’t physically imagine myself without him.”–Charlie Markbreiter Bookforum

“Lou is an open-book mystery, a man who built bridges of access, a gentle soul with whom I share similar demons”–Amos Mac, them

“It feels like a gift to be able to read such a complete and evocative record of a life spent in pursuit of joy”–Sasha Geffen, The Nation

“Sullivan’s diary entries are personal and political. They are recollections of many sexual escapades, but they also demonstrate his activist sensibility, that he was aware of his body and lifestyle as political issues, and of being in the throes of one of the largest gay scenes in the United States.”–Caden Mark Gardner, Hyperallergic

“This Trans Day of Remembrance, if you’re in need of a little joy, a little reconnection with life, a little reminder of how we can fight for our own happiness, this is a volume to pick up.”–Henry Giardina, The Pride LA

“The writing is great, and, joyfully, aware of it’s own skill. The entries collected deal with obsession, politics, bodies (the sex scenes are great), medicine, longing. Easily one of the best things I read this year.”–Dustin Kurtz, The Millions

“Here is your chance to meet Lou Sullivan in his own words, as he experienced himself in the process of becoming. Zach Ozma and Ellis Martin have done a beautiful job curating passages that preserve all the voyeuristic pleasure of reading someone’s diary–minus the boring minutiae of everyday life. The Lou who emerges is contemplative and bold, despairing and determined, promiscuous and romantic, and powerfully aroused by men wearing jewelry. Bring him home with you.”–Julian Carter

“Lou Sullivan was a visionary, a leader, and clearly one of the most significant trans figures of the late 20th century. He had a rare capaciousness of mind and spirit: he savored complexity and the many facets of people, ideas, and practices. He was generous, courageous, and his own struggles opened up new worlds and forged pathways that others eagerly followed. He helped dismantle the rigid gate keeping of the gender clinics, pioneering new ways for trans folks to lead their own transitions. He was a voracious intellect: eagerly absorbing, producing, preserving, and disseminating trans knowledge. His most important legacy was FTM, the Bay Area group he founded in 1986 that revolutionized the social and medical terrains for trans men.” —Gayle Rubin

“This collection of Lou Sullivan’s journals, edited with great care by Martin and Ozma, details a profound personal metamorphosis alongside a political and cultural one. Lou’s intimate writing reveals a fantastic voyage of a late 20th century trans explorer, pioneering his way from the hippie coffee houses that Lou came of age in, to the gay male diaspora of the Castro, to early trans liberation movements, AIDS activism and beyond. The intimate details of Lou’s life shared in his journals lay bare just how human he was. Lou transgressed the limited thinking of his era, the restrictions of his body, and even a terminal diagnosis to leave a legacy of self-determination that resounds beyond the trans masculine community he sought to empower. This collection continues Lou’s legacy of knowledge-sharing and brings a oft-overlooked pioneer into sharp focus.”–Rhys Ernst

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About the author

Susan Stryker

Susan Stryker’s historical research, theoretical writings, media-making, activism, and academic field-building activities have helped shape the conversation on trans issues since the early 1990s. She lives in San Francisco. Susan retired from the University of Arizona as Professor of Gender...

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