Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Books and movies to get you out of the closet

Where is all the literature for lesbians in SA? It's not something you readily find in your local CNA, I tell you. You frequently need to go underground to find out how to dig it up. Ironically, I’ve found that 15 or so years ago, it was more available at a good book store than it is now. I’m thinking of the Adams in Durban’s West Street. I vividly remember the gay and lesbian section – on the top floor right in front of the tills. I crept in there many times after shedding my school uniform for something less obvious!

It was there that I bought my first lesbian novel. And what an expensive novel that turned out to be. I had to buy about three other heterosexual books at the same time just to get past the cashier. It was all too much for a shy 17-year-old!

Anyway, it was well worth both the cost and the effort. The book is treasured to this day and also taught me a fair amount about ‘what to do’!

It’s at the top of my list (because I am feeling sentimental):

Lesbian Literature 101 (please email me your favourites so that I can add them too!)

Choices – Nancy Toder

My next best author has to be Sarah Waters. No self-respecting lesbian hasn’t heard of her. She has written the brilliant Fingersmith; the weird Affinity; the gorgeous Tipping the Velvet (also a delicious BBC TV series) and more recently, The Night Watch – which I enjoyed, but felt ended too soon.

I loved reading a very well-worn copy of Radclyffe Hall’s classic: The Well of Loneliness.

And of course, there’s Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle. All of the above are essential coming-out reading material!

Then there is Hood by Emma Donoghue. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It tells the story of the lonely widowhood a closeted lesbian goes through when her lover dies.

Mindgame by Yang-May Ooi is a surprise find. I love thrillers but there are hardly any lesbian characters in this genre. Mindgame is the exception. I also happen to have an autographed copy of the book, which makes it extra special!

What Comes Naturally by Gerd Brantenberg. Lots of truth in this one!

On the movie scene, there are a handful that spring to mind:

The classic Desert Hearts – it is a must-see!
Tipping the Velvet (as mentioned above)
Gia is worth seeing for Angelina Jolie alone.
Kissing Jessica Stein is sweet and very mainstream (pity about the ending!)
If These Walls Could Talk 2 – is gritty and moving
The Incredibly True Adventure of 2 Girls in Love (loved this!)
It's in the Water (hilarious satire!)
Saving Face (a surprise find - gentle and funny)
The L-Word (see previous entries)
The Truth about Jane
Goldfish Memory
When Night is Falling
Fire (Indian love story - very good!)
Fingersmith (wonderful. Didn't disappoint!)
Chutney Popcorn
Claire of the Moon - another classic. Made in 1992.
A Family Affair (average movie)
Loving Annabelle (Teacher-student theme. Hmm!)
D.E.B.S (a spy spoof with a love theme)
Lost and Delirious (set in a private school for girls)
Nina's Heavenly Delights
Red Doors
Girl Play
Queer as Folk (for the boys)

Any suggestions of your own? email herstory@eastcoast.co.za.

3 comments:

jabberwock said...

Very interesting blog. I just found it. Keep up the cool posts. I am enjoying the reading :)

David, Cape Town said...

I agree. Thoroughly enjoyable and well written.

I clearly remember the first time I bought a gay magazine at university. I hurriedly buried it between 2 "normal" mags convinced that I would be caught by my fellow students! Of course the till attendant never helped taking her time ringing the magazine up flashing it for all the world to see. My attempts to disappear into a crack in the floor didn't work!

Keep up the great work!

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