Archives for posts with tag: lesbian pulp fiction

Hey guys, just wanted to share comments about The Pop-up Museum of Queer History. It was great to be able to see a nationally know art exhibit at the Bloomington LGBTSSS center. The mission statement/ what we do made a really good point,

       “The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History is a grassroots organization that transforms spaces into temporary installations dedicated to celebrating the rich, long, and largely unknown histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We believe that our community – and especially our youth – deserve to know our history. If you don’t know you have a past, how can you believe you have a future?

I feel that this exhibit has something to offer for everyone. Knowing your past is half the battle, and there are people out there that won’t give recognition to a group if they don’t understand them. This artwork and information broadened my knowledge of LGBTQ history, most especially in relation to the present.

Of all of the artwork there I was most intrigued by the lesbian pulp fiction art/literature. It was something that I had never seen before. After doing some research about the history I was curious to find that the pulp was originally marketed toward men as erotic fantasy. Women also bought the literature, but it was seen as far more scandalous. Personally, when I shop for books the cover and it’s artwork is 80% of the reason that I want to buy it. The provocative catch phrases and images made me think of the artwork as a statement against patriarchal influence while also attracting those very men as part of the reader base for said literature.

In comparison to present day literature, my favorite female author Laurell K Hamilton has similar cover art that echos lesbian pulp in a fashion. It is interesting to see that literature and art that was “taboo” in it’s time, is now a more socially acceptable as covers for reading material. Here are a few of Hamilton’s book covers to compare (visually) to the pulp cover art.

On another note, i found this awesome picture of Abe Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party and thought the class would get a kick out of it.

-Sarah Klapperich

I would have to agree with my fellow poster that the lesbian pulp covers were absolutely amazing! Personally, I’ve never seen a lesbian pulp cover before, so it totally blew my mind.  I obviously had to do a little digging around and find the back story to The Lesbian Herstory Archive and these covers. On the website, Joan Nestle writes:

The act of taking one of these books off the drugstore rack and paying for it at the counter was a frightening and difficult move for most women. This was especially true during the atmosphere of the McCarthy trials…Although tame by today’s standards…these volumes were so threatening then that women hid them, burnt them, and threw them out.

Today if I wanted to go find the latest lesbian fiction I could just take a trip to Barnes and Noble, or better yet Boxcar books. There could still be some fear of homophobia, violence, or simply disclosing something held secret. Today, we live in an age where all it takes is a click and I could purchase literally anything I desire, with my student amazon prime account of course, and have it arrive my house virtually undetected by anyone. However, back in the 1930’s women had to go to these very public places, like drugstores and pharmacy’s, to purchase these novels and fear persecution or possible violence.

Interestingly, while I was looking at the novels at the pop-up museum and online I noticed the language used in the titles of the books as well as the cover art. Many of them contained words such as “odd”, “strange”, “evil”, or other language used to signify these novels as “deviant”.

Also, many of the novels took place in locations such as prisons, or barracks. This is interesting because these areas are traditionally viewed as places were “deviant” activity takes place.

Many novels had an  illustration or photograph of two women in very steamy or sexy positions on the cover.

While these novels are amazing, and not all of them project the lesbian lifestyle as “deviant”, its important to remember that these are historical pieces and while they may have been the “survival guides” for a generation of young lesbian women it’s also important to pay attention to the language and the images used to sell these novels.

By Kristy Wilson

Meeting at the GLBT center on Thursday was probably one of my favorite classes we’ve had so far in the semester so props to you Hilary, great idea! I had heard about the pop up museum in one of my other gender classes and thought it sounded really interesting so when I found out we were actually going in G335 I was really excited. I hadn’t ever been to the GLBT center on campus before but had always been curious about it so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When we first walked in we were greeted by the nicest guy who was really open and ready to answer any questions we had. He asked if we’d ever been there before and then went on to explain where exactly the exhibit extended to and how we were free to just roam around and look at all of the different pieces. I always like when I go somewhere new and feel immediately comfortable – it’s such a better feeling than going somewhere and feeling like you have to be on your utmost, best behavior and not ask any potentially stupid questions. The exhibit had so many different pieces and different kinds of media that it stimulated nearly all of your senses. There were different videos to watch and clips to listen to all surrounded by book covers, pieces of literature, and various pictures. I think my favorite part of the exhibit were the Queer covers from Lesbian Survival Literature. The covers were all so different but all somehow relayed a similar message. My favorite covers were “All Girl Office,” “Fulfill Me, Darling,” “Strange Sisters,” and most of all; “The Evil Friendship.”

When I was bopping around on Google I found this AMAZING website where someone who collects different versions of “Strange Sisters” has archived all of their collection online.  Check it out:

I also stumbled upon this website where The Lesbian Herstory Archives has put everything online so if you happened to have missed something at the exhibit you can check it out here again:

So besides bopping around online looking at more covers that people have collected (I really think I spent over an hour just looking at the different covers online..whoops) and finding the Herstory Archives website…I wanted to talk about how great of an atmosphere I thought the GLBT center had. Sometimes I feel a little awkward and out of place in spaces where for once I as a heterosexual white female am more of the minority rather than the majority. But, to be honest; I didn’t feel that way at all when we were at the GLBT center on Thursday. I thought it was great! The woman in the hallway handing out flyers was as nice as can be and I am still just so impressed with how nice the guy was who first greeted us when we walked in. I want to finish my first blog with a picture of a button I saw there on Thursday. I really liked it and it really hit home with me…

I’d like to go back to the GLBT center not only because I really enjoyed the exhibit and am interested to see what other kinds of displays they bring in; but also because like a lot of my gender studies classes it seemed like a space where people can just be themselves and what is better than that?

–Jenna Wise