a young woman with sensuous intent

May 6, 2017

A lesbian pulp fiction paperback first appeared before my disbelieving eyes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1957. I did not need to look at the title for clues; the cover leaped out at me from the drugstore rack: a young woman with sensuous intent on her face seated on a bed, leaning over a prone woman, her hands on the other woman’s shoulders.

Overwhelming need led me to walk a gauntlet of fear up to the cash register. Fear so intense that I remember nothing more, only that I stumbled out of the store in possession of what I knew I must have, a book as necessary to me as air.

The book was Odd Girl Out by Ann Bannon. I found it when I was eighteen years old. It opened the door to my soul and told me who I was. It led me to other books that told me who some of us were, and how some of us lived.

Finding this book back then, and what it meant to me, is my touchstone to our literature, to its value and meaning. Yet no matter how many times I try to write or talk about that day in Detroit, I cannot convey the power of what it was like. You had to be there. I write my books out of the profound wish that no one will ever have to be there again.

Katherine V. Forrest

Introduction to Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The Sexually Intrepid World of Lesbian Paperback Novels 1950-1965

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