If you love pulp fiction …. especially the lesbian kind …. then you’ll want to see this documentary full of titillating tales of taboo lovers. that has been digitally remistressed
In the 1950s, a wave of lesbian pulp literature emerged, exploring a then taboo subject in vivid, sensationalistic detail. While these writers often took a critical, moralistic view of gay life, they provided a jumping-off point for women still discovering their suppressed sexual desires. But with society unwilling to grant them a place in public life, they channeled their passion for these novels into a vibrant underground culture full of distinctive codes, roles, and rituals. Mirroring the shadowy traditions of noir fiction, they also faced violent opposition from police and other protectors of the status quo, resulting in a dangerous, but ultimately liberating path to sexual awakening.
Mixing lively testimonials from unforgettable women at the forefront of mid-century lesbian bar culture with scripted segments that take the Hollywood melodrama in provocative (and sexually explicit) new directions, Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives is an eye-opening cultural history – and one of the most memorable Canadian films of the ’90s. With a soundtrack of late ’50s and early ’60s hits by The Fleetwoods, Connie Francis, Jimmie Rodgers, and The Shirelles, this is a stirring, funny, and ultimately moving portrait of rebellion flourishing in the face of repression.
Ten women, most of them in Vancouver or Toronto, talk about being lesbian in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s: discovering the pulp fiction of the day about women in love, their own first affairs, the pain of breaking up, frequenting gay bars, facing police raids, men’s responses, and the etiquette of butch and femme roles. Interspersed among the interviews and archival footage are four dramatized chapters from a pulp novel, “Forbidden Love“: Laura leaves her hick town and heads for the city, where she meets Mitch in a bar. Sparks fly, and so do laughter and joy. Ann Bannon, one of the writers of those paperback novels about forbidden love, talks about the genre.
FORBIDDEN LOVE brings an important and empowering history of lesbian sexuality in Canada out of the closet, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime.