Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead
by Ed Mead
Kersplebedeb. 363 pages, $20.
ED MEAD’S autobiography is a welcome addition to a growing corpus of recent nonfiction that examines the relationship between GLBT people and the prison industrial complex (PIC). Released from prison in 1993, Mead spent eighteen years serving time for his role in a Seattle-based revolutionary Communist group responsible for the bombing of banks, government buildings, and corporations accused of racism during the turbulent 1970s. Now in the late stages of lung cancer and well into his seventies, Mead has shared with us his epic tale of life on the front lines of class war for over half a century.
Lumpen joins Dean Spade’s Normal Life, Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock’s collectively authored Queer (In)Justice, and the anthologies Captive Genders (edited by Eric Stanley and Nat Smith) and Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You, edited by this writer. This is not to suggest that queer investment in fighting against the PIC is a new phenomenon: many of us know well the stories of groups like Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners, Vanguard, the Lavender Panthers, and the George Jackson Brigade, which Ed Mead cofounded. But this renewed energy devoted to examining the queer stakes in prison abolition has been gathering steam, and it has produced this challenging and invigorating corpus of literature.