Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



University of Indiana Press


Despite the depth and breadth of Catriona Sandilands's groundbreaking "Lesbian Separatist Communities and the Experience of Nature," with its emphasis on communities in southern Oregon, Sandilands does not consider her article, published in 2002, to be "the last one on the topic." Instead she hopes "fervently that other researchers will enter into the ongoing conversation [about queer landscapes)" (136). This essay is an answer to her invitation to draw further "insight from queer cultures to form alternative, even transformative, cultures of nature" (135). It examines the role of place in the history of American lesbians, particularly the role of nonhuman nature in the alternative environments lesbians created and nurtured in their efforts to transcend the sexism, homophobia, violence, materialism, and environmental abuse afflicting mainstream society. Certainly such an investigation supports the challenge, detailed in Katie Hogan's essay in this collection, to the notion of queers as "unnatural" and "against nature." Lesbians' ways of incorporating nonhuman nature into their temporary and permanent communities demonstrate how members of an oppressed minority created safe havens and spaces to be themselves. In addition to offering mainstream society insight into the impact of place on identity, in some instances lesbian communities also provide some important working examples of alternate ways of living on and with the land.

Chapter of

Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Biopolitics, Desire


Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands
Bruce Erickson


This work was published as Unger, N. (2010). From Jook Joints to Sisterspace: The Role of Nature in Lesbian Alternative Environments in the United States. In C. Mortimer-Sandilands & B. Erickson (Eds.), Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Biopolitics, and Desire, University of Indiana Press, pp. 173-198. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (,508-744-3350). For all other permissions, please visit



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