Ann Bannon Talks About Beebo Brinker and the Lesbian Pulps of the 1950s and 60s on this episode of Les Do Books with Tara
Tara is joined by Ann Bannon, author of the legendary lesbian pulp Beebo Brinker series. Ann talks about how she first discovered lesbian books, how she got her start writing pulps in the 1950s and 60s, why they resonated and sold so strongly, and the enduring, lifesaving legacy they’ve had.
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Beebo Brinker Omnibus
Designated the “queen of lesbian pulp fiction” for authoring five landmark novels, Ann Bannon’s work defined lesbian fiction for the pre-Stonewall generation. Unlike many writers of the period, however, Bannon broke through the shame and isolation typically portrayed in lesbian pulps, offering instead women characters who embrace their sexuality against great odds.
With Beebo Brinker, Bannon introduces the title character, a butch 17-year-old farm girl newly arrived in New York after she is driven from her Wisconsin home town for wearing drag to the State Fair. Befriended by the gay Jack Mann, a father figure with a weakness for runaways, Beebo sets out to find love. She never knew what she wanted — until she came to Greenwich Village and found the love that smolders in the shadows of the twilight world.
The 880-page Beebo Brinker Omnibus includes the novels Beebo Brinker, I Am a Woman, Journey to a Woman, Odd Girl Out, and Women in the Shadows. Sexy, dangerous, and often touching, the paperbacks sold millions. Chronicling the reality of 1950s lesbian life, Beebo Brinker is an astounding and engaging read.
please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect
hi I’m Tara and welcome to les do books email me at email@example.com with any questions or comments. people who listen to this show know that I like to talk to authors about the journey supplies B infection whether it’s reading it writing it or both this week I’m excited because we’re taking a step back to the roots of our genre talking with an author without whom we wouldn’t have the current landscape we have today and Bannon is the author of the legendary lesbian pulp Bebo Brinker series which was first published between 1957 in 1962 if you haven’t read them before you can get all five in a handy omnibus from Klee espress which I highly recommend normally at this point in the intro I’d throw it over to my guest but today’s shows a little bit different as I was running an through the way the interviewed work I’d mentioned that I would ask her what she thinks about the lesbian writing community today and she just got going with some amazing information so I just hit record so instead of me welcoming and we’re going to go straight to her talking about the community now versus the lack of community back when she was writing the pulps I think when I was first writing it was hard to think of us as a community it was hard to have a sense that you were in a like-minded group you knew it was there at least you did if you were lucky enough to be in a big city acquainted with anyone else who shared your feelings but mostly I think women who were inclined to identify with other women were isolated they didn’t know how to connect they didn’t know where other people were and so if you were out in the you know middle of the country in a small town with very few connections and you know there it was just such a different world there were no lesbian bars are very very few there were no lesbian bookstores or gay bookstores so where did you go for information and one of the things that I think happened as a result of the lesbian pulps that were being written back then was that the they could be found anywhere you could be living in the Midwest you could be in an isolated town without any social support and with no other source of information but you could find those lesbian pulps on the same shelf with the pulp westerns the science fiction the cops and robbers the romance and the fantasy and there they were so for the first time it was easy access and I think it was in an initial sense on the part of young women who had otherwise nowhere to go no one to ask even the people you thought could help were about as ignorant as you were so the lesbian pulps were that was why they were so important and there were gape helps as well and they served the same purpose they weren’t quite as visible and it’s hard to say this but I think it was tougher on the young men than than the women because there was my less sense of acceptance to the degree there was any at all but I mean there was more rejection let’s say more of a pushback with regard to the men and the women so so there’s something about women together has always fascinated everybody not just but men have found it a romantic interesting phenomenon and they have them pursued it and they have been interested in it going back centuries and we know that so those books were were marketed and they were marketed in part to a big crossover audience of men but that’s what kept them going and it’s ashamed to say it but the women of course would find those books and enjoyed them thoroughly and saved them they’re still women who come up to me at book shows carrying their original copy of odd girl out and saying I don’t know what I would have done without this and this is such a kind of watching phenomenon that it it meant that much but it was all people had so you can understand why it it was significant in their lives you can also understand why they hid them I mean if your mom and dad found out you would probably be disinherited you’d certainly be told to leave the family it really was a scary time and people I think they young and you’re full of energy and you see the world opening up to you and the mainstream society accepting gay people and the gay pride parades and all the wonderful stuff that goes on these days cruises you can go on a cruise with only women or only men you know and it was just so constrained and dangerous back then so writing writing really was an act of determination and stubbornness and courage and hope you know there there that had to keep you going because when your family found out it was a very very alarming time I had to come clean with my mother she I had that effect had been telling her we have I have a book going here and it’s going to be published shortly that was a girl out and she was thrilled and she had told all her friends when she realized what I have written and how do I handle this it was very hard for her it really was she had to sort of go around to her friends and say well you know and we’ll do better next time and and this isn’t quite what we thought it would be and it was hard I think one of the things you wanted me to talk about was how I started so let me address that a little bit sure I wasn’t one of the women who discovered Radcliffe Hall the well of loneliness before I knew about anything else but I did discover it shortly after I became really interested and realized there was a small body of literature that I could look at and it was awfully grim awfully prim heartfelt she was an intelligent educated woman but it was it just painted such a a dismal picture of how difficult and heartbreaking it would be to come into that world but I quickly thereafter I found one of the pulps I found the first original pulp that had come out on you know and been widely distributed it was called spring fire and written by Mary Jane Meeker under the pen name VIN packer and very interesting it was the first original pulp lesbian pulp so I found that on a drugstore shelf and I got through it and you’ll talk about reading as fast as you can I got through that one in incredible speed and and actually it gave me some courage it huckett gave me heart because even though it had a very grim ending it was well-written it was there was a really kind of gripping romance in the middle of it it was about two young women in college and I had just come out of that experience and I found it fascinating that here you know I I had been in a sorority so had Mary Jane maker made lots of points of shared history and contact so I found it hurting I mean goodness I’ve done everything everybody else did I’ve been to the library I’ve looked I’d looked for information and I couldn’t really find it you could get a note from a professor and you would be allowed into the the private collection or the private really but the restricted collection and it would be medical books and it would be delicate historical volumes but it will also be the gay and lesbian stuff and it was just too embarrassing so a book like Mary Jane’s was the sort of beginning of a tidal wave of fascinating information some of those books were reprints of hardcover books that had also been very hard to find from the years in the 30s and 40s but this was after World War Two and it’s an interesting time because any any period after great out great war like that is bound to be a conservative time a war is succeeded by everyone wanting things to go back to normal and normal to them always seems like what was what the world was like before the war so the 50s was that period for us after world war ii and the guys came home and the young women came home that had been the nurses and support staff everybody had learned a lot i mean you know and what how are you gonna keep him down on the farm after they’d been to war good lord so it was it was an odd time because everybody tried to return to the traditional roles the women put their skirts on and put down their ribbons their riveters and and the guys wanted their wives out in the kitchen making tuna casseroles and having the babies and so in that regard it was a very conservative time but people couldn’t forget who they had been during that time and the freedom the independence what they had learned and you couldn’t just pretend that away and I really think the fifties were a kind of launchpad or the the movements that came so shortly thereafter in the 60s so we it started with the great civil rights movement in the early 60s the women’s movement followed shortly after that the Stonewall Rebellion that everyone’s been talking about the past week or so occurred in the late 60s so it’s all that little package following the 50s which were so conservative and where information was hard to find and everyone was still very closeted and cautious so you had you have to remember that we were writing in the 50s and the early 60s and it was still that that difficult dangerous time and yet we many of us live to see this revolution in acceptance in understanding it isn’t complete and it may never be complete but it’s so valuable and so wonderful to see this progress being made so from the perspective of the 50s it was almost unimaginable and it did take another four decades really but nevertheless it was that was where it started really for me was spring fire Mary Jane’s book and I thought d’arnot you know if people can write this stuff I can write it too I knew I could write I mean you have to be young dumb and determined you know and I was so I sat down I by this time I was married right out of college but I wasn’t working and except in the home you know I wasn’t I didn’t have a paying job so I got to work on my husband’s old Remington and and I turned out the book that eventually was changed edited into a girl out inspired by spring fire it was quite an experience you know I mentioned my mother’s reaction and other members of my family who were concerned and anxious about me it’s kind of an odd time but it works I had to I guess I’ll keep rambling here unless you want to interrupt no this is great in print of course if you write you you don’t just want to talk to yourself you want to talk to other people so I I wrote I took my courage in both hands and I wrote to Mary Jane Meeker and I said your book was great I enjoyed it so much I learned so much I’m writing a book myself I didn’t think at the time my god she probably gets hundreds of letters every month saying I too am writing a book no that didn’t occur to me but she liked my letter and we began a sort of correspondence and finally she said why don’t be can you get to New York and at the time my husband and I were living in Philadelphia so it was a train ride up there the only really difficult part of it was getting him to agree so I assured him that I would be staying at a women’s hotel which made him more cheerful about the whole and I took the train to New York I went to the women’s hotel and the same evening that I arrived I got in touch with Mary Jane she was expecting me and it was just a wonderful week she showed me around Greenwich Village she took me to the women’s bars a couple of the men’s bars there was some very famous ones back then and we had a great time we got along well and of course I had brought my manuscript with me so she said well I’m gonna take you men to meet my editor she had already prepared him and he said ok if you like her bring her in he was an old Hollywood guy his name was Dick Carroll and he’d been a script writer and producer and worked out there most of his life so when my publisher which was the Orbitz quickly became gold metal books was looking for someone to start this new division of original pulp paperbacks and they did the whole gamut of the genres from the detective stories to the science fiction and they thought we’ll we’ll give the lesbian stories a try as well so that’s how you know this began the dick was the editor in chief and Mary jeans editor so we walked in to the offices of gold metal books we got a she got me a interview with dick she came in with me and he was very nice to me he read the manuscript immediately and this was something of a miracle I don’t know how it’s done today but they were getting 400 manuscripts a week over the transom so to speak 400 well they just didn’t know people can’t see I’m shaking my head yes that’s incredible yeah it was sort of incredible but they were they were looking for that that good one in the midst of all those stuff that couldn’t really wasn’t publishable and it was it was nice at least than if you were young and you were yearning to get in print you had somewhere to go so dick read that book he said it’s not very good but it has promise and he said you can write you have in that story two young women Beth and Laura and he said what you need to do is go home and throw out the other stuff and tell their story I was very shy about that because I was a little scared it was a sort of inviting danger I didn’t know how far I could push it without getting in trouble there was still a committee in Congress known as the morality cops and if they didn’t like your book and particularly paperback originals and they had to be shipped by the US Post Office so therefore Congress had control over them then they would they would censor them or they you you wouldn’t be told that earlier editor would be told that you had to be ordered to put a sad ending on that story and that happened to Mary Jane and she’s been apologizing for it all the years since but but it it had loosened up a little bit at the time that I was writing so I didn’t have to kill my heroines it was not that bad I they didn’t stay together at the end of odd girl out but nobody died nobody went crazy nobody had to be thrown under the bus you know I so I finished reading it two nights ago and I went into it knowing they weren’t going to have a happy ending because also I’d read kind of some of the blurbs for the other books and obviously they end up with other people and all that but I felt like the ending was still promising because of Laura’s journey and how at the end of it she walked away from it so strong so that like I was okay with it not being I mean in the end it doesn’t fit as a romance like it’s not in the romance genre because it doesn’t have that ending but it just there was so much growth there I was kind of sad and disappointed for Beth I’m glad it came across that way I think it was a strong ending and particularly given the times and how that was a heavy lift to be able to get away with that so I in a way I was spared some of what Mary Jane was put through and and a lot of the other women it was hard going but I think that’s why a lot of readers found their their way forward it was through the old pulse and particularly the lesbian pulp so it gave them a peek at a better future in and I think it was part of the launchpad for the the rights movements of the next decade I really do we weren’t you know we were flying along under the critical radar we were not quality books you know we had the sleazy covers which of course made the book sell by the millions and millions and brought in the crossover audience which mattered greatly to the success of those books and kept them going so they had it they had a very important role to play there wasn’t much going on in the movies except stories that condemned homosexuality or that ended badly for everybody there was no TV was mainly comedies and police stories at that time everybody was just getting their feet under them so the other media weren’t providing the the the needed outlet really and the quality fiction was there was some not not to discount that but it didn’t find the same kind of audience it really played a role I think it actually saved lives I wanted to ask you about that actually because so we’re recording this at the very end of June so people listening to this will be listen to it in July and this week I mentioned in our Facebook group because it allows being review the site that I review it has a book club on on Facebook and I mentioned that I was reading it I do a post every week saying what I’m reading and asking everybody else what they’re reading right and I said I was reading odd girl out and I shared the link to the omnibus because I mean you can get all five books for $20 it’s pretty amazing and there were authors and readers who were all commenting that you know your books were the first lesbian stories they’d read and Katherine Forrest when she was on a previous episode of this show she said that odd gorilla was actually the book that saved her life so when you were writing these books did you have any idea that you were doing this you were saving my that you were kind of creating this legacy i I really can’t claim that I did when I wrote a hot girl out but then mail came in then I began to see how urgent that need was and how grateful women were not just to find my books but any any of them that were being written back then there were there were other authors I think there were a good dozen of us that were doing this and a lot of them were older than I was but their books somehow I don’t know they were they were equally valuable I’ll just say but mine got quite an intense response and I think maybe that’s why they’re still around I you know certainly in terms of the picture they paint of the culture of the times the social expectations of the times the way people were living even the way people dressed in the way they talk that’s all along since outdated but human nature is the same and I think that’s the part that speaks to young people this is how I felt – and this is how I still feel when I fall in love and this is that part that core of it is is true I don’t know how I got that right because I was living between my ears I had nowhere to go and no way to go anywhere I did get lucky we moved out from the east coast to the west coast and we lived near Los Angeles in the suburbs and I found the daughters of Bilitis chapter and that was a little group of women who were trying to make contact trying to turn a young generation that didn’t know each other very well as many of whom felt utterly sequestered in conservative families and towns nowhere to turn for information again help them find each other help them make a start in life and feel good about themselves and and again that was a very heavy lift given the tenor of the times but they were doing the work of the Angels they really were and I might remind husbands dead body I got to these meetings now I don’t not a great many of them but enough to give me a little sense of Independence a little sense of what other people were doing and a feeling that there’s a movement here we’re not just stagnating we’re not stuck a few of us are breaking out of families or breaking out of conservative expectations or traditional expectations and finding a way to connect with each other and that gave us a lot of courage it was a wonderful organization it published a little newsletter called the ladder and the ladder to this day is you know if you still have your old copies there are now collector’s items quite remarkable what what women were finding they they could say to each other and the idea of course was for that to break out and find a greater audience I mean the ladder had to be mailed and plane covers and you couldn’t you couldn’t put the name of the organization or make it clear that this was a newsletter for gay women or anything like that because then these the people who needed it most were still many of them living at home with their parents or with straight roommates so how in the world was a publication that arrived in the mailbox declaring itself to be lesbian or you know the Mattachine Society letters for the men the for both men and women really how could you accept it or how could you how could you sustain a subscription under those circumstances you couldn’t so it had to arrive looking very anonymous and therefore it made it very tough for them to expand their mail list women were afraid to get it so you know these kinds of things wouldn’t occur to a young woman in the gay community today or in the lesbian community or the young men either for heaven’s sakes that’s ridiculous you know we we felt anticipate that kind of problem anymore but it had to be lived through it had to be surmounted so I was very glad to make that connection even though it was a little tenuous I had to work it in around a babysitter and my husband’s absences on business trips but I did and I’m so glad I did the women I met were full of life they were witty they were interesting many of them were writing or they were teaching and when you when you realize you’re not alone it’s you know I I think that’s what happened with Katherine Forrest bless her heart and I can’t say enough about what a wonderful person she is and a magnificent writer and and editor just a treasured friend after all these years and I tell you what about turns my heart over to think of her as a young girl walking into a drugstore and picking up odd girl out at a point in her life where she was in such a state of hopelessness that they didn’t seem to be a way out except to go jump off the bridge and she didn’t thank God what a gift she’s given the world and what a tragedy that would have been and there’s still kids that do it you still read in the paper and on the media that the the youth most at risk are the LGBT kids they just still have that hopeless feeling family still sometimes don’t understand much as the world has changed it isn’t always a hospitable place for young people who aren’t expected to stick to the traditional ways you’re listening to the lesbian talk show the lesbian talk show calm you’ll have a podcast information you still need to read about yourself you still need to see yourself mirrored back in a positive way that’s true for all marginalized communities and you know you think of the people of color today and and the transgendered people who are having a really tough go they’re sort of going through their claim on civil rights and good for them and they and long overdue and it’s beginning to help and beginning to work it makes me realize when I talk about this the people like Harvey Milk were so right we have to let our families know we have to face the consequences the people that we know at work but the guy next door the people in our club you have to say that but who you are identify yourself it isn’t until people in mainstream society are aware that that nice guy or that lovely gal that they you know socialize with or see every day or talk to over the water cooler is a lesbian or a gay man or whatever their you know wherever they are on that spectrum so it’s still important and it will always be important but it’s also surprising to me that young people that they say it must have been so thrilling must have been so exciting because it was dangerous and love in times of danger is heightened and more colorful and more thrilling than income or quieter times so I still I heard that that feels like such to be able to make a statement like that I think really shows your privilege mm-hmm because I I have to think and I mean you can tell me if I’m right or wrong and I mean everybody’s experience is different but I mean I have to think it would also be terrifying to think you could go to jail yes or you didn’t even have to go except you know they would take they would they would raid the bars they would take you down to the jailhouse and fingerprint you and they take your name then they’d let you go but then it would be in the paper the next day they used to print the names of everybody they brought in and and and you are right it could turn into a jail term if it was bad enough and you were caught in flagrante and for like people that that were married and had kids like that not that you’d necessarily I mean the state of the marriage aside but like the idea that you could lose your kids like that’s a lot that’s a lot of risk like you could effectively lose your life depending on the people around you mm-hmm so I I think unfortunately some people are kind of bored and they like the idea of a little danger in their lives but at the same time let’s enjoy okay I I agree you have to again it’s this when you’re young you have this sort of mindset that you’re immortal and that whatever danger you’re thrown into you’ll survive it you’ll overcome it and I think it’s that sense you know the kind of thing that draws people into conflict because I can handle it and it’s it’s thrilling and then I’ll look back on it and feel I did it it will give me that that sense and you know at some point in our lives were all young young and dumb and we haven’t been there we don’t realize so that I certainly forgive it I you I was young and dumb but but it makes you realize what a big disconnect there is between the young people today seeing the world around them more welcoming and finding their way in life in with acceptance and being able to tell in many cases not at all but in many cases friends family co-workers there are churches now that welcome gay people it really the the universe has taken a turn since we were young and writing the pulps and of course the pulps faded because that that social temblor was actually already moving that wave was starting to cross the landscape and so you know the work we were doing was not so much life-saving or necessary as the decades moved on which is an interesting thought we in a sense the the role that the lesbian pulps played became not totally obsolete but it wasn’t as essential at the life-saving level as it had been people still love them and collect them and learn from them as history social history and enjoy them I mean I it’s heartening to me that you enjoyed them they didn’t didn’t seem as if I were totally out of touch with human nature anyway so I mean that’s one of the things that I noticed I think it’s not necessarily the plot that’s that’s like propelling me through these books and which is not a ding on the plot at all but it’s a hundred percent the characters yeah and because they are so like they’re so vibrant and passionate and very easy to empathize with even when I don’t like things they’re doing and saying and I want to just say like no stuck don’t don’t do that ok please so where did Laura and Beth and bebo and Jack all come from necessity I don’t know what else to say it was all between my ears it was all my imagination my need and the sparks that flew from the first few books I found including spring fire that encouraged me to it opened the door to understanding I didn’t know how people found each other or how people were living their lives at the same time I was and finding them finding that they they could still laugh about things they could still get together but life wasn’t totally drab or frightening and people were somehow doing that and it made me desperate to get to a big city we were in Philadelphia and I used to walk all over the neighborhoods looking for I knew there was a lesbian bar on a certain street and I would walk around there during the day until the neighborhood got kind of scary and I would go home and I would do this while my husband was at work it was a quest to find a community and if you were lucky enough to be in of course Greenwich Village or Chicago or San Francisco’s Castro or New Orleans or not Miami you were very lucky because there was a place there for you and you could find it if you had the courage to walk in there it would change your life but it would also it would change in good ways suddenly you’re member of a group and and it was those groups getting together and supporting each other that formed the foundation of community and I you know you see her from young women saying now I know what to wear or now I know where to go that’s the closest to me and I know what life can be like and that’s what I want that’s what I need so I was writing about this on the basis of a lot of reading of my own I learned a lot from Mary Jane Meeker you know she introduced me to a lot of other people and the books sold so well that I was hearing from just remarkable Audrey Lord I heard from oh gosh Lana Turner’s daughter she said that was the first lesbian book I read was odd girl out and I literally found it at Schwab’s drugstore where Lana was supposedly discovered but actually that wasn’t yeah but I mean this kind of thing stays with you it’s it’s amazing I think you’re quite right I do think my books are character-driven rather than plot driven and I think maybe that that’s what sustains them you know it’s kind of remarkable for a paperback original to have a life a real life half a century 60 years it was the mid 50s when I went on girl out came out another thing to keep in mind is that the Pope paperbacks did give a step into the publishing world to a lot of young writers gore Vidal wrote pulps Patricia Highsmith Marion Zimmer Bradley Ray Bradbury I mean a lot of them were out there in pulp paperback covers so it wasn’t shameful but it wasn’t taken very seriously and the books were sort of treated like throwaway literature they would be you know you read them on the train on your way to work or on the trolley or the bus and many of them could be consumed in a few hours and you just throw them away so the fact that some of them subsist to this day because what would happen is the publishers would come through and pick up the unsold copies they’d rip those those scandalous covers off they’d put a big black X across the title page so they would trash them they’d repo them they’d reuse the paper or they just throw them out so you if they’re hard to find if you’ve got one in good shape there worth a lot of money you look on eBay or a books is a wonderful place to look for them and the price on the few they’re still around in good condition is kind of astronomical I never would have imagined that my books would have a life it’s sort of like your children you know you you send them out in the world and you cross your fingers and maybe they’re sort of embarrassing but they’re yours is like children and unfortunately our wonderful now of course long long since grown women but so you don’t know what you don’t in a way know what you’ve done it was that fan mail as I mentioned that gave me a sense that those books were out there making friends and and and developing their own lives and it took a while they all of a sudden there’s a whole reprint edition brought out by the New York Times in hardcovers The Times used to have a publishing arm for books and then the Nyad press Edition came out in the 80s and quality paperback books which alas is no more but they brought out thee and omnibus Edition which left out one of the stories I can’t remember which woman and then in the early aughts please press brought out the Edition that’s now available and of course now they’ve moved on to two ebooks so you can download them on your tablet or your iPad or whatever you’ve got and it gets sort of I mean the books are out there doing their thing irrespective of how I feel about it they’ve got their own audience they’re making their own friends it’s kind of a wonderful thing there’s been a delightful play based on them called the Bebo Brinker Chronicles that was put on an off-off-broadway the New York theater workshop and then it was seen by a marvelous woman who’s a Broadway producer she took it up to an off-broadway stage the 37 arts theater and then it took off and it made the rounds across the country for six or seven years in colleges and community theaters and kind of all over the place and I saw three or four of the productions and it was so I don’t I don’t even know how to describe the experience excuse me of seeing Bebo in the person of several different young women all with a different take but all doing a wonderful job I mean if we ever get those stories in the television or film it would be such a wonderful experience fun to imagine who they would cast as yeah Bebo in particular but all the characters so you know miracles happen maybe the moment will come so I’m gonna ask a selfish question that I really want to know and I’m sure other people probably want to know and you can feel free to decline to answer her but what happened to the characters and the decades that followed well I do have some ideas and I did write a novel based on that thought and I followed mainly Bebo because she became the iconic character and also because she was so much fun to write about and I didn’t like the book so I don’t know what to say about that and it was never published I really I wish I had a good answer I’ve given it serious thought I think if I ever write anything again you know after many many years of an academic career and doing totally different things would I go back to them I was so young and it was all so energizing and and vibrant to me and to go back to them now as women in my age category I don’t know I might even have to go back to them as they were and pick up the threads from their their young years but I I’m not sure I said what I had to say about the man people have written sequels and done some interesting creative work with them I don’t know I think maybe I just don’t know her I would start I did make an effort I did write that book but it was all except for Bebo it was different characters so I’m not sure I would like what I did I I didn’t like that one I wouldn’t certainly be that book I guess I have to say I thought about it but when I felt energized to do it I was working full-time then I retired and I’d been traveling for about 15 years lecturing around the country and and talking to people all over which has been a great pleasure and a lot of fun I think maybe I said what I could about a kind of harsh difficult time and if I you know one of the things I hope I did was show how the people could still have fun that people could still connect that people didn’t lose in the midst of a challenging life they didn’t lose their sense of humor or their ability to love open heartedly but those are the things that make life worthwhile and if you don’t feel you have that what have you God I mean I can I understand why people think there’s nowhere to go except going off the bridge that that’s why I think our media arts are important I mean what you’re doing your podcasts the books that are now being written that are so much freer and more expressive of real life I really don’t know you know what more to say that I’ve been part of and felt so intensely about not to say that life is petered out I mean that it’s wonderful to still be here it’s a funny sort of feeling when the the world rediscovers you and it comes around to take another look and that’s kind of what happened to me I’m grateful for that and and met some wonderful young people so now you see you see gay and lesbian lives and you know and all the colors in between all all the new terms that the young generation has you see them on the stage you see them in films you see them in TV on TV use you read their words and to know you were part of that maybe part of the first wave that got it going and to still be here in the new century wow that that’s a gift that really is a like turning a remarkable corner and seeing a beautiful Vista knowing you’re part of the panorama so where do you think we’re headed as a reading and writing community and is there anything that has you especially encouraged I think the young writers are just magnificent the ones I’ve been able to read have done such a hand on job of clarifying what it means to be different and yet to be so much part of the world and and the events that are there that they are sharing with everyone now it’s it’s extraordinary to imagine the kind of life that I would have lived if I had been born in this era and I think the young people I have to have imagined it and they have lived it and they’re telling the story and they have done it so well with such energy and such conviction but people in mainstream society are saying this is great this is wonderful prints oh gosh crown that crown prince charles Oh William William thank you I’m totally blank that’s how how much I following the royal family Prince William only a day or two ago was quoted as saying in response to the question what will you do if one of your children is comes to you and says as a young adult I’m gay he said oh I’d be fine with it I’d be just fine with it well that means that the young writers and the young performers and the young people in in in every conceivable job who are living an honest life they’re doing their job they’re doing what Harvey Milk said we should do think they’re out and they’re living well and they’re good people and this is something that wasn’t known in the 50s when it was still believed by most people even a lot of members of the LGBT community to the degree they were even a community then to the degree they heard it all the time they absorbed this I mean it was a terrible self prejudice in their case but this sense that being a homosexual wasn’t someone what was being a contaminated person and if you went out and made friends you would make them gay just by having contact with you but this was a disease that could be spread and it was very dangerous because mere contact would contaminate a friend and you couldn’t be known to have gay friends or you were part of it too you were that they were a car baby no one could escape it it was that awful feeling that identity had to be crushed or no one could come near you that’s totally gone and almost every nook and cranny of certainly the developed world and beginning to be the case elsewhere in the world which is a wonderful thing that young people there are going through what we went through decades ago and and having to face it with no snow assurance that they’ll come through it intact or that their lives will be spared or but they’ll be able to make a positive contribution but they will I know they will life can be lived like that you know there’s this wonderful new surge where everyone is making little film clips saying it gets better and that was a great campaign I think it was very helpful so that those kinds of things I mean my gosh you you can’t believe what has been accomplished in recent years so that gives me hope and the literature is in us in particular because it’s so well done and it’s so forthcoming and it’s so insightful and I think that’s what has been needed that maybe we couldn’t do to the degree we thought we could or tried to some people so I’m in Canada and I see a lot of people in the LGBTQ community have been increasingly discouraged by things that have been happening in the last new years since your last federal election and with some of the things that are happening at the state level as well but I’ve also seen you know some elders in the community who said we’ve done this before we can do this again mm-hmm do you have anything that you would say to you know some of those people who are discouraged or depressed who are finding like their mental health is being impacted by what’s happening well I I would echo what you just said we did it before we can do it again if we must but I don’t think we’ll be starting from Ground Zero not at all having seen these decades rolled by and having seen how people have soldiered through some of the toughest challenges that could be thrown at them going all the way from the the days of Frank Kameny and Barbara Giddings where you had to wear a suit and tie and a skirt and and nylon stockings to be seen in public and to declare yourself to the first pride parades after Stonewall to the AIDS epidemic to will and greas comedies with with wonderful likable people on television to where we are now with elected officials running cities serving in state legislatures and in Congress running for president I can’t be hopeless I know if you’ve been there and you’re tired and you see some slippage it’s it’s difficult to think to yourself oh no here we go again for God’s sakes you know if you don’t learn your history or condemned to repeat it I get that but boy I know my history and I don’t feel hopeless and I don’t think we’re condemned to repeat it we have you can’t go back from this we’re climbing the mountain then we’ve got a whole new perspective and we’re what we should be doing if we look back at all it should be to look back with pride at what’s been achieved and not to despair when you when there’s a step or two back no great movement ever went straight forward in a smooth way it’s just seeing the large picture that makes you realize how much progress is being made even in those moments when you think you’ve lost or you’re tired out and you’ve been through a big campaign and you didn’t win or it didn’t go the way you thought Atwater should the next day you get up and you do it again and you do it better you get a new idea you just have to think that way and it was that kind of forward don’t give it up thinking I mean if you wanted to step back and hand it to the to the young people coming along or take a break okay but come back to it you know it’s a it’s a wonderful gosh I don’t know what to call it it’s a project it’s a lifetime project and then you have something to be proud of that you hand off to the next generation because they’re gonna slip to you know and then they’ll have to find their step again absolutely I think that is all for this episode where can people find you online if they want to connect with you I have a website and Bannen dot-com and they can also use it to write to me I have to admit I haven’t been updating it lately but that’s okay what’s there is fun and they you know they could read about the books and I think it comes up to about twenty fourteen or fifteen somewhere and there but it’s I maintain it and I love to hear from people so if anyone would like to write to me they can do it through the website and I can attest that you do write back I do write back so yeah that’s all thank you so much for joining me it was a great pleasure Tara I’m glad you got in touch of course I must also thank Katherine Forrest or suggesting that it was very kind of her hi Kathy it’s true I asked her after we recorded the podcast late last year I said is there anyone that anyone else that you think I should talk to you and you were the one name that she said she you must talk to Anne Bannen so I also will be sending a note to thank her I’m Tara and you’ve been listening to let’s do books remember to email me a Tara@thelesbianreview.com with you questions or comments if you’re an author who’s interested in joining me on the show to talk about the less fake you love or the trends that have you interested please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this episode please check out the show notes we do find a patreon link for the lesbian talk she will visit patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show our patrons get exclusive content like bonus podcast that no one else gets access to you can also join our Facebook group who lesbian you vote Club to talk about anything in your reading and loving to find this and many other great shows all you need to do is search for the lesbian talk show on iTunes Podbean stitcher or Spotify