Amber L. Hollibaugh

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Amber L. Hollibaugh (born 1946) is an American writer, film-maker and political activist. According to her publisher's website, "Amber L. Hollibaugh is a lesbian sex radical, ex-hooker, incest survivor, gypsy child, poor-white-trash, high femme dyke. She is also an award-winning filmmaker, feminist, Left political organizer, public speaker, and journalist."[1] She is currently the Interim Executive Director of New York's Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). Formerly she was Chief Officer of Elder & LBTI Women’s Services at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago.[2] She has been director of education, advocacy and community building at SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), a New York program dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender senior education, advocacy, and community organizing.[3]

Hollibaugh is the daughter of a Romany father of Spanish descent and an Irish mother.[4]

Career and writings[edit]

In 1970 Hollibaugh was a leader in the Canadian movement for abortion rights.[5] In 1978 she was a cofounder with Allan Bérubé and others of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project.[6] In 1982 she was a speaker at the 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality, a key event in what became known as the Feminist Sex Wars. She has written on the marginalization she experienced afterwards as a result of being a former sex worker and her involvement in the sadomasochism community.[7]

She was the director and coproducer with Gini Reticker of "The Heart of the Matter," a 60-minute documentary film about the confusing messages women students receive about sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.[8] The film won the 1994 Sundance Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award; it premiered to a national audience on PBS.[9][10]

In the 1990s she argued that that American liberalism is in disarray, but is looking to the Left for guidance in how to reshape itself.[11] Stafford has analyzed her memoir My Dangerous Desires (2000) in terms of femme lesbian narratives.[12]

In 2002, Fitzgerald discussed Hollibaugh and Singh's 1999 essay "Sexuality, Labor, and the New Trade Unionism" in Social Text. Fitzgerald says that their presentation of the relationship between sexual politics and the labor movement proposed a labor movement "that will take on immigration issues, racism, health care, and the nuances of economic inequality alongside more mainstream labor and 'gay rights' concerns."[13]

In her writings on sexuality she has declared that "there is no human hope without the promise of ecstasy."[14]

Altman says that Hollibaugh is "a powerful organizing speaker, a very fine incisive writer and a brilliant theorist."[15]



  • Hollibaugh, Amber L. My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home (Duke University Press, 2000)
    • Review: Altman, Meryl. "Sexual Politics," The Women's Review of Books, (Jan. 2001) Vol. 18, No. 4 pp. 13–14 in JSTOR
    • Review: Craig, Alisa. "My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home.(Book Review)", Archives of Sexual Behavior (October, 2003) online
    • Review: Kramp, Michael. "Amber L. Hollibaugh. My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home" Rocky Mountain Review (Spring 2002) Volume 56, Number 1 online version
    • Review: Millard, Elizabeth. "My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home by Amber L. Hollibaugh" ForeWorld Reviews (2001) online version

Articles and essays[edit]

  • Hollibaugh, Amber, Mitchell Karp, and Katy Taylor; interviewed by Douglas Crimp. "The Second Epidemic," in AIDS: Cultural Analysis, Cultural Activism vol. 43, pp 127–42. (Winter, 1987) in JSTOR
  • Hollibaugh, Amber, and Cherríe Moraga. "What We're Rollin Around in Bed With: Sexual Silences in Feminism." in Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (Monthly Review Press, 1983) ed. by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson. pp 394–405.
  • Hollibaugh, Amber, and Nikhil Pal Singh. "Sexuality, Labor, and the New Trade Unionism," Social Text, (Winter, 1999) No. 61, pp. 73–88 in JSTOR
  • Hollibaugh, Amber. "Sex to Gender, Past to Present, Race to Class, Now to Future," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2004) Volume 10, Number 2, pp. 261–265 online at Project MUSE
  • Deirdre English, Amber Hollibaugh, and Gayle Rubin, "Talking Sex: A Conversation on Sexuality and Feminism," Feminist Review (June 1982) vol 11


  1. ^ "Duke University Press website". 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  2. ^ See "Amber Hollibaugh" retrieved 5-25-2012
  3. ^ GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2004) 10#2 pp 313-316
  4. ^ Anderson, Kelly. "Amber Hollibaugh Interview". Voices of Feminism Oral History Project. Retrieved Feb 2013. 
  5. ^ Christabelle Sethna and Steve Hewitt, "Clandestine Operations: The Vancouver Women’s Caucus, the Abortion Caravan, and the RCMP," The Canadian Historical Review (September 2009) Volume 90, Number 3, pp 463-95
  6. ^ Jeffrey Weeks, "Allan Bérubé (1946-2007)," History Workshop Journal (Spring 2010) Issue 69, p 295
  7. ^ Basiliere, Jennifer Lynn (2008). Bypassing Binaries: Towards a Feminist Politics of Transgression. ProQuest. p. 39. ISBN 9780549561484. 
  8. ^ Sharon Gmelch, et al. Gender on Campus: Issues for College Women (Rutgers University Press, 1998) p. 197.
  9. ^ Ephen Glenn Colter; Dangerous Bedfellows (1996). Policing Public Sex: Queer Politics And the Future of AIDS Activism. South End Press. pp. 402–3. 
  10. ^ Nancy L. Roth; Katie Hogan (1998). Gendered Epidemic: Representations of Women in the Age of AIDS. Psychology Press. p. 212. 
  11. ^ Eliza Jane Reilly, "Liberalism and the Left: Rethinking the Relationship," Radical History Review (Spring 1998), Issue 71, pp3-5
  12. ^ Anika Stafford, "'Uncompromising Positions: Reiterations of Misogyny Embedded in Lesbian and Feminist Communities' Framing of Lesbian Femme Identities," Atlantis 2010, Vol. 35 Issue 1, pp 81-91.
  13. ^ Jenrose Fitzgerald, "Querying Sexual Economy: The Cultural Politics of Sexuality and Class in the United States," American Quarterly (2002) 54#2 pp 349-357
  14. ^ Cited in Iain Morland, "What Can Queer Theory Do for Intersex?," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies Volume 15, Number 2, 2009 p 303
  15. ^ Meryl Altman, "Sexual Politics," The Women's Review of Books, (Jan. 2001) Vol. 18, No. 4 pp. 13-14 in JSTOR