Life and Lesbian Pulp in Postwar America


I’LL NEVER forget the first time I saw Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives. It was the fall of 1992, and the documentary was premiering at ForbiddenLove-smImage+Nation, Montreal’s queer film festival. Four years in the making, Forbidden Love featured interviews with a number of older lesbians from across Canada, each telling her own story about how she lived as a lesbian through a much more conservative era, roughly the 1940s through the ’70s.

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         Forbidden Love is not striking only for its content but also for its formal originality and ingenuity. Interwoven with the women’s testimonials are a series of fictional vignettes performed by two actresses, based on the pulp lesbian fiction of the day. At the end of each vignette the actresses look directly into the camera, creating what could be a pulp fiction novel cover. They also take some liberties with the pulp novels they enact, allowing their heroines a happy ending. How’s that for radical filmmaking?

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Discussion1 Comment

  1. I’m delighted to learn that this wonderful documentary film will finally be available on DVD. It might be of interest to your readers to know that the two actresses providing scenes between the interviews were based on my characters, Beth and Laura, from my series of pulp novels, “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles.” I was invited by producers Lynn Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman to participate in “Forbidden Love” as the author of some of the well-known lesbian pulps from the era. Just a year ago, Aerlyn Weissman and I appeared together, along with a few of the surviving women featured in the film, at Pat Hogan’s Bold Fest in Vancouver, B.C. At the time, Aerlyn despaired of getting “Forbidden Love” out on DVD because of the cost of the copyrights on music used in the film. So it’s a pleasure to see that that hurdle was finally overcome. And it’s certainly heartening to know that people have so enjoyed and valued this bit of our history. Perhaps now more of them will be able to appreciate it. Please sign me Ann Bannon

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