Who is Amber Hollibaugh?

Amber L. Hollibaugh is an American writer, filmmaker and political activist, largely concerned with feminist and sexual agendas. She is a self-described 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. Her first book, My Dangerous Desires, presents over twenty years of Hollibaugh’s writing, an introduction written especially for this book, and five new essays including “A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home,” “My Dangerous Desires,” and “Sexuality, Labor, and the New Trade Unionism.” Amber Hollibaugh is currently a Senior Activist Fellow at the Barnard Center for Research on Women where she directs the Queer Survival Economies project.

Hollibaugh is the former Chief Officer of Elder & LBTI Women’s Services at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago and the former Executive Director of New York’s Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). She has been director of education, advocacy and community building at Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), a New York program dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender senior education, advocacy, and community organizing. Among her health education work, she founded and directed the Lesbian AIDS Project at Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York, for which she won the Dr. Susan M. Love Award for Achievement in Women’s Health.

Hollibaugh was the director and co-producer 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. The film won the 1994 Sundance Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award; it premiered to a national audience on PBS.

In 1970, Hollibaugh was a leader in the Canadian movement for abortion rights. In 1978, she was a co-founder with Allan Bérubé and others of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project. 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. Hollibaugh has written on the marginalization she experienced afterwards as a result of being a former sex worker and her involvement in the sadomasochism community. She has also written for, among others, The Nation, Socialist Review, NY Native, and the Village Voice.

In Hollibaugh’s writings on sexuality, she has declared that “there is no human hope without the promise of ecstasy.”

Queer Survival Economies: Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies

This panel discussion featuring Kate D’Adamo, Hamid Khan, and Ola Osaze, and moderated by Amber Hollibaugh, was recorded at The Scholar & Feminist Conference 41: Sustainabilities. The conference took place on February 27, 2016 at Barnard College. For more information, see

Queer Survival Economies is a new initiative directed by Amber Hollibaugh and born out of the closure of Queers
for Economic Justice. Queer Survival Economies aims to prioritize LGBTQ low-income and immigrant worker issues at a time of increasing crisis because of the on-going recession and reshaping of the global market. Participants will discuss overlooked and often invisible economic justice issues at the intersections of class, race, gender, immigration, HIV/AIDS, non-traditional families and sexuality. The goal of this panel is to bring together and educate community members to be better able to build movement possibilities in the face of economic crises and queer marginalization.

The Conference

Impacts of Economic Injustice on Vulnerable LGBTQ Communities

Jan 23-24, 2015
Murphy Institute

See more videos from “Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies” on our Resources page.


Economists have noted that the 2008 global economic crisis has created not a temporary recession, but a rearranging of the global economy that will impact us for decades to come. For LGBTQ communities, not only has the impact of the economic crisis been particularly severe, but also an analysis of the effects of the recession on LGBTQ communities is largely lacking.

This invisibility of the impact of the 2008 economic downturn on LGBTQ communities supports the absence of economic justice issues in the current LGBTQ movement, an absence which maintains the myth of LGBT wealth rather than conveying the reality of class and race as it meets sexual orientation and gender identity in the majority of queer lives.

Continue reading “The Conference”

Gender, Justice, and Activisms in New York City

This video features a special pre-conference panel to the For the Public Good Conference, held on March 28, 2014 at Barnard College, co-sponsored by For the Public Good. The panel is comprised of Kate D’Adamo, Penelope Saunders, Reina Gossett, Amber Hollibaugh, Sydnie Mosley, and Tiloma Jayasinghe, and was moderated by Janet Jakobsen.

How do contemporary social conditions affect activism on behalf of gender and sexual justice in New York City? Have economic shifts since the financial crisis of 2008 changed possibilities for activist undertakings? How can we support efforts for social justice under these new conditions? What kind of new work is being undertaken?

In Fall 2013, Janet Jakobsen and Elizabeth Bernstein, organizers of the Gender, Justice, and Neoliberalisms research group, led a seminar on “Activisms” that matched students with groups that are doing gender and sexuality based activism in New York City. As a preface to the For the Public Good conference, speakers working on a range of issues—sex work, reproductive justice, community based art, sexuality, domestic violence, and poverty—discuss the effects of economic conditions on their work, the intricacies and impact of their labor, and their experiences providing students with a form of applied education that could benefit grasroots campaigns.