Episode 187: Ahead of the Curve with Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow, co-directors of the critically-acclaimed documentary Ahead of the Curve which chronicles the career of lesbian-rights icon Franco Stevens who launched Curve, the best-selling lesbian magazine ever published. Against the hostile backdrop of hate crimes and family rejection in the 1990s, with few celebrities or politicians willing to be out publicly, Curve magazine dared to celebrate a full, inclusive range of lesbians, queer women, and nonbinary people, seeding some of the most pressing conversations around LGBTQ+ community today. Growing up, Franco never saw any representation of queer women — she didn’t even know it was possible for a woman to be gay. When she realized she was a lesbian, it changed the course of her life. In 1990, Franco created a safe place for lesbians in the form of Curve magazine. Her approach to threats and erasure in the ‘90s was to highlight all kinds of LGBTQ+ women and make them beautifully visible. The magazine helped build the foundation for the movements being led by today’s queer activists. In this episode host Michael Shields, Jen Rainin, and Rivkah Beth Medow dig deeply into what the existence of Curve magazine meant to lesbians and the lesbian community while marveling about the obstacles and adversities Franco Stevens navigated bringing Curve to life. They discuss the controversy and complexities surrounding the word “lesbian,” a dispute concerning the name of the magazine which almost brought the publication down, the important work of The Curve Foundation, and, ultimate, they celebrate the profoundly inspiring legacy of Franco Stevens and the magazine she created which meant so much to countless people.

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