Released July 28, 2023
A Brown & Queer Memoir
L.A. Taco’s 2023 Best Books
ISBN: 978-1-7341180-8-7 (paperback)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.48 x 9 inches
L.A. Interchanges is available at most
online retailers such as
You also can find L.A. Interchanges at
independent bookstores and shops
in Southern California such as
Goddess Mercado Boutique,
Tía Chucha's,& Libélula Books.
It is also available at
The Library Store
located inside the historic
Los Angeles Central Library.
"A Powerful Memoir and
By combining the intimacy of a personal memoir with the rigor of documentary history, Lydia Otero weaves together a rich narrative of identity, activism, and personal transformation. With meticulous attention to detail, Otero traverses the homes of family members to dancefloors, bustling work sites, and organizing spaces in search of brown and queer belonging. Through photographs, archival documents, and compelling storytelling, Otero crafts a passionate narrative of personal becoming amid the political and cultural currents of 1980s Los Angeles.
Grounded in the philosophy that the personal is political, Otero portrays fellow organizers as strategists exploring previously unimagined avenues to address the needs of brown queers. The book traces Otero’s transformations and blossoming sense of self, which often felt constrained by the binary gender assignments of the time, while it tells a documentary history of Lesbians of Color, Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos (GLLU), Lesbianas Unidas (LU) and Bienestar: A Gay Latino AIDS Project—groups central to the city’s burgeoning queer, brown, and activist scene.
Otero’s parallel story of becoming an electrician offers a unique vantage point of a city in the midst of restructuring, as Otero’s labor contributed to building some of the most iconic structures in Los Angeles, such as the Universal CityWalk, U.S. Bank Tower, and the Metro Rail.
Meticulously researched, L.A. Interchanges invites readers to delve into the intricate interplay between personal experience and historical context. It is a testament to the complexity of intersectional identities, and the unwavering spirit of those who strive for justice and belonging in the face of adversity.
L.A. Interchanges shows that archival storytelling can be an act of everyday resistance. It counters the institutional forgetting of marginalized people's history. With moving prose, stories, and ephemera, Lydia Otero's memoir bears witness to the power of queer, trans, and nonbinary people of color. They write to remind us that to historicize oneself is to stake a claim to humanity, to reveal possibilities of better futures, and to inspire a consciousness for multigenerational movement work.
-Umi Hsu, PhD, Director of Content Strategy, ONE Archives Foundation
Author Lydia Otero takes a special interest in the effect that urban environments have on the people who inhabit them...[L.A. Interchanges] tells a coming-of-age story amid the electrical guts of various Los Angeles building projects and the lesbian activist scene of the early 1980s, written not just from Otero's memories but also from their personal archive. "During my time in Los Angeles," they write, "I squirreled away documents, as well as photographs of the Brown queer activists I worked alongside."
-Los Angeles Review of Books
Lydia Otero's riveting memoir is grounded in personal and collective history that has been erased from works on Los Angeles. Otero reveals the struggles of queer folks of color and the spaces that they created in the 1980s. L.A. Interchanges is essential reading for those wanting a more complete and nuanced understanding of the multilayered history of Los Angeles.
-Enrique C. Ochoa, California State University, Los Angeles
Lydia Otero’s L.A. Interchanges is a remarkable memoir featuring a journey through a disappeared Los Angeles. Many of the places and people Otero mentions in this retelling of their young, vibrant life are gone and lost. It takes a memoirist of their caliber to successfully weave their personal story while simultaneously featuring some of the enormous changes in the cityscape over the last few decades. The worlds Otero straddles as a young Tucsonan transplant, a unionized electrician, a Latinx LGBTQ activist, and an academic offer a view of a life that rarely gets featured in literary storytelling. Otero’s voice allows us to be there with them on 70s dancefloors, at lesbian activist gatherings, inside hospital AIDS wards, and inside massive L.A. infrastructure projects, not to mention a couple of unique celebrity encounters. L.A. Interchanges is a great and important read.
-Richard Villegas Jr., author of I Heart Babylon, La Música Romántica, and the substack "The Alphabet People: The LGBTQs of Teaching Kindergarten"
Readers of L.A. Interchanges are given a roadmap of how one can live a life that makes a difference. This is a memoir that epitomizes "the personal is political," and its pages are filled with documents and details on an important history.
-Steven Reigns, author of A Quilt for David