Protest art and action

Eating Fire

It's been more than 20 years, so it's time to pay attention to the early '90s wave of gay and lesbian activism. Kelly Cogswell helped found the Lesbian Avengers in 1992, and this book, Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger (University of Minnesota Press, $19.95), chronicles her transformation from recovering Southern Baptist to—literally—a fire-eating lesbian. Lesbian Avengers were known for being almost as much about protest art and street theater as about political action. The portion of the book devoted to the group's early activity is fascinating. Less page-turning but far more important are the sections about how Cogswell came of age as an activist, faced up to the conflicts within the group (including those over racism), and managed to stay involved.