By Myki Angeline
I am still pinching myself that this interview happened. Having the honor and opportunity to talk with the creator of the best selling lesbian magazine in the world is a dream come true. The added bonus was talking with Jen Rainin (Director, Co-Producer) and Rivkah Beth Medow (Producer, Co-Director) whose company Frankly Speaking Films produce media that centers strong LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people to increase visibility and spark change.
I am referring to Franco Stevens and Curve Magazine, which started in San Francisco, California (U.S.) back in 1990. The magazine’s legacy inspired AHEAD OF THE CURVE which documents the 20 year history of the first lesbian magazine to represent every facet of queer women. The cast includes GRAMMY-winning bassist and composer Meshell Ndegeocello, who composed the original score, and GRAMMY-winning icon Melissa Etheridge who was the first major celebrity to grace the cover (when it was still Deneuve). In fact, from inception to fruition every person involved in making this film are women and non-binary.
I talk candidly with all three women about the making of this herstorical documentary, and how Curve Magazine made such a positive impact on the lesbian community. The magazine has evolved from a printed publication to exclusively online. In April 2021 the Curve Foundation was founded, whose mission is to empower lesbian, queer women, trans people, and non-binary people to share our culture and our stories, connect with each other, and raise visibility.
View Curve at: Lesbian news, bisexuals and queer women, CURVE Magazine
I presented my original copies of the publication, and the commonalities I share with Stevens; being married to a man before coming out as queer, my weekend trips to San Francisco back in the late 90s. The fact that Stevens used to work at the Different Light Bookstore on the Castro – and I show my copy of a Melissa Etheridge book I purchased at the same bookstore on January 13, 1998 (with a receipt!).
AHEAD OF THE CURVE is the story of one of the most influential women in lesbian history you’ve never heard of and the impact her work continues to have today. Growing up, Franco Stevens 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 lift all kinds of lesbians up and make them beautifully visible. The magazine helped build a foundation for many intersectional movements being led by today’s activists in the face of accelerating threats to the LGBTQ community. Decades later, as her legacy faces extinction and she reassesses her life after a disabling injury, she sets out to understand visibility work being led by an intersection of queer women today. Featuring Andrea Pino-Silva, Kim Katrin, Denice Frohman, Amber Hikes, Jewelle Gomez, Melissa Etheridge, and Lea DeLaria, and a score composed by the legendary Meshell Ndegeocello, AHEAD OF THE CURVE celebrates the legacy of a movement while considering the agenda of its future.