Terri Windling, Hen Wives, Spinsters and Lolly Willows
Autostraddle, The 15 Best Lesbian and Bisexual Movies of 2018
Hannah Roche, The Outside Thing: Modernist Lesbian Romance
New York Times Books, Alone with Elizabeth Bishop
In a future in which most hereditary diseases have been cured, Jimson Allecca is one of the unlucky ones. His rare form of cancer is treatable only as long as he stays on the colony world of New Terrain. To leave the planet, he’d have to get on a star ship and go for a ride through The Hype. Doing this would quickly and fatally accelerate his condition.
Jimson is a celebrated artist with a privileged life, but he decides that his desire to experience “a different light” is more important than reaching old age. He undergoes a sinister telepathic examination and receives permission to leave New Terrain. While hanging around in Port City, looking for a ship to take him off-world, he meets Leiko Tamura, an-out-of-work pilot who becomes his lover. Leiko introduces him to the Port Bar, Rin’s, where he meets Ysao, an engineer and a giant of a man.
What strikes me most about Jamaica Inn is just how much Daphne Du Maurier’s writing improved in the novels that followed this romantic thriller. If she’d written nothing else, I suspect she’d have fallen into obscurity along with a lot of other popular women writers of her day. I read Jamaica Inn at the same time as I was reading a collection of her late stories from the 1970s and while I enjoyed both books, if it wasn’t for the same name on the cover, I probably wouldn’t have recognised them as works by the same author. But, having said all of that, Jamaica Inn does point the way towards Du Maurier’s later works.
The novel is set in Cornwall in the 1820s. Our orphaned heroine, Mary Yellen, goes to live with her mother’s sister Patience at the isolated Jamaica Inn. To her alarm, she finds her aunt a shadow of her former self, utterly dominated by her brutal husband, Joss Merlyn. Worse is to come when Mary realises there are wicked doings afoot at the Inn, the least of which is smuggling. Determined to discover the truth and get her aunt away from Jamaica Inn, Mary finds herself locked in a dangerous battle of wills with her uncle. Matters are further complicated when she meets two other men, Joss’s devilishly attractive younger brother and the strange, elusive Vicar of Altarnun. Who can Mary trust to help her in her predicament?
When we were charming Backfisch*
With curls and velvet bows
We shared a charming kitten
With tiny velvet toes.
It was so gay and playful;
It flew like a woolly ball
From my lap to your shoulder
And, oh, it was so small,
So warm – and so obedient
If we cried: ‘That’s enough!’
It lay and slept between us,
A purring ball of fluff.
But now that I am thirty
And she is thirty one,
I shudder to discover
How wild our cat has run.
It’s bigger than a Tiger,
Its eyes are jets of flame,
Its claws are gleaming daggers,
Could it once have been tame?
Take it away, I’m frightened!
But she, with placid brow,
Cries: ‘This is our Kitty-witty!
Why don’t you love her now?’
Katherine Mansfield (1888 – 1923) was an important Modernist writer best known for her short fiction. She was bisexual and had sexual relationships with men and women during her life.
Over the last few years I’ve gained the impression that a lot of ‘LGBT’ groups are still really L&G groups with the ‘B’ and the ‘T’ added for the sake of convention, rather than as indicators of any real support for bisexual or trans folk.
Adding the B and the T allows a group to avoid complaints about exclusion, but it is easy to exclude people through more subtle means. I’ve been to LGB and LGBT groups in which there are no bisexual or transgender members and the lesbian and gay members continue to express biphobic and transphobic views.
I mean, how many LGBT groups really know anything about bi issues, have bisexual representatives, hold bisexual literature, know how many bisexual groups there are in the UK (it’s 11 by the way)?
It’s just not enough to add letters to an acronym. There has to be more.
For a group to be considered inclusive I think there ought to be some minimum standards and expectations:
- If the group has a lesbian rep and a rep for gay men, then there ought to be reps for bisexual and trans issues.
- If the group holds literature that is specific to lesbians and gay men, it should also hold specific literature for bisexual and trans folk. There probably isn’t that much, which is why it’s even more important to have it.
- The group should be aware of and have the contact details for the main bisexual and trans groups and campaigning organisations so that people can be signposted if necessary.
- The group should also make efforts to ensure that transphobic and biphobic language is always challenged.
Otherwise it really shouldn’t be calling itself ‘LGBT’.