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Wide-Open Desert: A Queer History of New Mexico

Throughout the twentieth century, New Mexico's LGBTQ+ residents inhabited a wide spectrum of spaces, from Santa Fe's nascent bohemian art scene to the secretive military developments at Los Alamos. Shifting focus away from the urban gay meccas that many out queer people called home, Wide-Open Desert brings to life a vibrant milieu of two-spirit, Chicana lesbian, and white queer cultural producers in the heart of the US Southwest. Jordan Biro Walters draws on oral histories, documentaries, poetry, and archival sources to demonstrate how geographic migration and creative expression enabled LGBTQ+ people to resist marginalization and forge spaces of belonging. Significant figures profiled include two-spirit Diné artist Hastíín Klah, literary magazine editor Spud Johnson, ranchera singer Genoveva Chávez, and Cherokee writer Rollie Lynn Riggs. Biro Walters explores how land communes, art circles, and university classrooms helped create communities that supported queer cultural expression and launched gay civil rights activism in New Mexico. Throughout, Wide-Open Desert highlights queer mobility and queer creative production as paths to political, cultural, and sexual freedom for LGBTQ+ people.
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