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Out in the Bay

1950s-'60s lesbian love novels spurred LGBTQ rights

Cleis Press
Covers of Ann Bannon's "Beebo Brinker Chronicles" paperbacks

While a young housewife and mom in the 1950s and ’60s, Ann Bannon wrote lusty lesbian love stories. Scorned by the literary elite then, her and other authors’ “pulp fiction” paperbacks helped advance queer rights and now offer a glimpse of gay and lesbian life in those times.

On this week’s Out in the Bay, hear steamy passages read by Bannon herself – dubbed the “Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction” — and current author Monica Nolan during a live 2014 in-studio interview with host Eric Jansen.

Nolan had then just finished the fourth book in her Lesbian Career Girl series that spoofed ‘50s and ‘60s high school girls’ career primers, humorously paying homage to lesbian pulp fiction like Bannon’s from last century. (Don’t miss her reading a literally steamy high school gym shower scene!)

We bring this to you now as part of the new show Queer Power Hour’s nod to Valentine’s Day. QPH paired our Bannon and Nolan feature with Making Gay History’s interview with the late Pauline Phillips, aka “Dear Abby” advice columnist, an early hetero advocate for LGBTQ rights. (Queer Power Hour, which debuted in January, airs at 6 p.m. Thursdays on KALW, 91.7 FM in the SF Bay Area.)

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For more on Ann Bannon and her books: AnnBannon.com. For more on Monica Nolan, her books and her informative blog “Pulp & Pep”: MonicaNolan.com.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.