Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (1992) Movie Script

(Upbeat '50$ rock music)
- [Radio announcer] And
now, a pretty ballad
that's climbing the charts:
"Tell Laura I love her."
It's a tragic tale of teenage love, folks.
(Radio tuning)
(Subdued rock music)
- Honey, maybe it would be easier
for Laura if she didn't see you again.
- But I need to see her.
(Train whistle blows)
I just had to come and say goodbye.
Bill drove me.
(Car door closes)
- Oh, Meg.
I thought you might be coming with me.
- No, I just had...
- Come with me!
Oh Meg, we could be so happy.
- [Train conductor] All aboard!
- No.
(Chime rings)
(Train whistle blows)
(Orchestral music)
I was such a fool
to fall in lo ve with you
I was such a fool
to think you 'd love me too
cause suddenly something happened
your love flickered and died
but mine
mine kept right on burning
then burst into a torch
impossible to hide
I was such a fool
to think that you were mine
- my mother was having a
bit of a problem with me,
you know, my sexuality, and so,
keely moll rock creek, b.C.
I remember once... she writing me
that she was reading these books
so that she could understand me better,
and I thought that was the
worst kind of iiteratu re
she could read,
next to the Kinsey report.
- The books were displayed
with the other books,
with mysteries and
westerns and everything,
Stephanie ozard Victoria, b.C.
And the only way to identify them
was by pictures on the cover.
As soon as I'd see a picture of two women,
I'd say, "oh yeah, this has to be one."
It was great.
('50s ballad)
And I used to take them babysitting.
When the people went
out, I would sit and read
these lesbian novels
when nobody was around.
- There was a golden
age of lesbian writing
and publishing that came to pass
in the '50s and '60s.
And I think that we suddenly
reached out and connected
with women who were very isolated
and sequestered almost in little towns
across the country.
I think maybe that's one reason
why the paperback originals,
which did deal with a lesbian theme,
became so valuable to so many women.
Ann bannon
Sacramento, California
they were widely distributed and they said
this is how it is,
this is who some of your sisters are.
(Subdued orchestral music)
- I don't remember all the authors,
I just remember all the books,
and there were tons of them,
and they all had great covers.
Very suggestive and entrancing.
And the stories were all pretty...
Sort of like the romance novels today.
There was sort of a
formula... formula books.
Reva hutkin Victoria, b.C.
You know, butch meets
straight little femme
and they fall in love
and at the end, of course, it
had a tragic sort of ending.
It never...
Rarely worked out to anybody's...
oh, well.
(Subdued orchestral music)
- I think women writing
in the '503 and '603
for the paperback houses in particular
were often constrained
by the kind of formula
that the publisher imposed on them.
There was some kind of retribution
that was essential at the end,
so you could let them have a
little fun in the meantime.
And presumably,
entertain the reader.
But it was not to go unpunished,
so at the end of a story like that,
one of the women or both had to die
or be essentially shipped
out of the country,
or undergo some calamity
that would break her heart
or break her spirit or end her life.
(Subdued flute music)
If there was one good thing
that came out of gold medal books
leaving me to my own devices,
I think it was that I
didn't have to do that.
My women survived.
They loved hard and they lost hard,
but they won a few,
and they didn't die.
And then they'd find
ways in the cover blurbs
to say, "must society reject me?"
Or this kind of very obvious
none-too-subtle clue.
They didn't want it to be subtle.
They wanted people to
know right away
that they were buying
something that had to do
with a lesbian theme.
(Subdued flute music)
- I liked "we too are drifting"
Lois m. Stuart Toronto, Ontario
and of course "the price of salt"
was great because it ended up happily
instead of this miserable situation
where the woman had to
fall into somebody's arms.
You know, the old myth.
The whole world is full of
stupid myths about women.
"All you have to do is
meet a good man,
and you'll be all right. You
won't need women anymore."
(Subdued flute music)
- When I first started writing,
I would travel from Philadelphia,
where we were living, up to
New York on the commuter train,
and beeline right down
to greenwich village,
and sometimes I would spend
long hours simply walking
up and down the
streets of the village
to soak it up, to sort of make it mine
because I could only have
these little moments,
these short periods of time.
It was never more than
a week at a time,
and even a week was rare.
It mattered to me,
and therefore it was
imprinted on all my senses
as something to take away
with me and keep
and use to mine it for
my subsequent writing.
(Upbeat jazz music)
It left me with a sort of magic place
in my mind and imagination
that's greenwich village in the 19503.
My grandmother would have said,
"it's a diamond in your pocket."
You carry that with you forever,
and it feeds the stories.
(Grand orchestral music)
- [Narrator] In the last
50 years, there's been
a revolutionary change
in the status of women.
In most parts of the western world,
women can vote, own property,
and practice any profession
within their capabilities.
(Subdued orchestral music)
Beauty, however,
is still one of the chief
attributes of women.
The woman of today is
trying to solve her problems
in the way of the 20th century.
Around her, she sees household
aids of modern design:
Pressure cookers, freezers,
tiny garbage disposal units,
lightweight irons, and a host more.
And she wants them all,
but for many,
the ideal kitchen is still only a dream.
Whether it's careers
or cradles or both,
the woman of today
in every field of activity
welcomes these new
plans for better living.
Although she will never abandon
her role as wife and mother,
she looks forward to a greater share
in the world of today and tomorrow.
A world which can be an
adventure in happiness!
(Grand orchestral music)
- Well, actually, I got married
when I was just turned 21,
and I got involved with a friend,
basically it was a friendship,
and she had come across
all these wonderful novels,
these lesbian novels,
and she said, "I'd like
you to read this book,
I have a great book."
And then she gave me one,
and she gave me another one,
and then she gave me another one.
By now, I was sort of getting
hooked on the stories,
and, at some point,
she sort of confessed,
"well, I think I'm like that."
And I totally freaked
out and said, "oh no,
not like that!"
Whatever "that" was because it
was all a new experience to me.
But eventually I sort of
thought maybe I'm like "that" too.
(Subdued orchestral music)
Ultimately, we got it together,
and I just left my husband, and...
Sort of took on a new life.
And at one point, we thought,
all the lesbians obviously
live in New York,
in greenwich village,
at least the books said
that's where they all lived,
so we decided we had to
go and find the lesbians.
(Upbeat music)
So I put on what I thought
was my best butch clothing,
'cause we thought they
were all butch and femme,
and I put on my red blazer,
and a tie, and a shirt,
and dark pants,
and my lover wore a dress,
and off we went to greenwich village
to look for the lesbians!
We asked taxi drivers
and kind of poked around
and went in here and there,
and I don't know,
we never found them!
It was a real disappointment,
but people thought we
looked kind of strange too.
I think they looked at us
a little bit out of the
corner of their eyes sort of,
but we survived that venture,
but that wasn't the lesbians
that we were looking for.
They just weren't there,
or we couldn't find them,
or we didn't recognize them
'cause they weren't wearing
butch and femme things.
I don't know.
(Percussive music)
- I had my first affair when I was 13.
I met a 20-year-old woman.
I remember the day I met her
because I went to visit
her aunt at her house,
and I walked in the door
and she looked me over.
I told her my name.
I said, "my name is Stephanie."
She said, "oh, what a lovely name."
And we were off.
It only lasted a few days,
but I knew what I was for sure then.
I got through high
school mostly by dating,
subconsciously actually,
gay men, gay young men.
I liked to dance a lot,
and I would find a young
man who liked to dance too,
and that's all we would do.
We'd go to dances, go to movies.
There was no physical intimacy
at all, so it was just great,
and they still thought,
"oh, look at this.
Here's Steph. She's in
love with this guy."
And I'd just go home and
laugh up my sleeve, you know.
But it got me past.
(Upbeat rock music)
- I was gonna go and sleep
with this woman
for the first time,
Nairobi Montreal, Quebec
and she was of course
much older than I.
Oh gee, it was so good.
And I had a good time,
but when I came back home
I decided to tell my mother what I did,
and boy, did I make a mistake.
She beat me, I mean she
beat the shit out of me,
and it was like punishment.
She locked me up in a room,
and I'm not lying to you,
every hour she'd come in
and just slap me across the face,
and call me a dirty...
Well, you see, the word is
like a tortilla.
She would say,
"you dirty tortillera."
And I would cry,
and I said,
"mother, but I love her."
"No, you don't love a
woman. You love a man."
And I said, "I'm sorry, I
love a woman, and that's it."
(Bird calling)
- I was born in northern alberta
about 60 miles from Dawson
creek, up in the bush.
We did most of our farming
with horses,
and traveled by horse.
My parents came from Europe,
and settled in there,
and that country opened up in '38.
That's where I grew up,
and became the beautiful
person I am today.
Yeah, well, I always had
this attraction for women,
and I had this dream about
this teacher when I was 14.
I went to school, and she was
teaching there. She was 19,
and she was at this local picnic,
and she was selling soft drinks,
and all the boys were hanging around
'cause she looked like the
Breck shampoo girl or something,
and I was hanging around,
adoring her of course.
Then when I went home
that night I was sleeping,
and I had this dream and I dreamt
that I was sitting in this
field full of flowers.
They were all kind of
purplish-blue flowers,
and then I saw this figure
coming at a distance,
and she had this big picture hat on
and this gauzy dress
with the same pattern of flowers
as I was surrounded with.
And then as she came
near me I looked up,
and she stooped over and
kissed me on the forehead,
and I looked up and it was her.
And then afterwards, I
was going to school there,
and she was the teacher.
She was teaching
correspondence or something.
We started having this affair,
but we weren't very discreet about it.
We were, you know,
carrying on in the school,
and the kids were all running around
peeking through the windows.
Ultimately, she had to leave the school.
And that was a fairly
abrupt ending to the affair.
(Soft orchestral music)
- I would get these violent crushes,
and always on girls,
and I didn't particularly wonder about it,
Jeanne Healy Toronto, Ontario
but I recall when I was 15 or 16
taking a book out of the library.
It was called "serenade"
by James m. Cain.
I thought it was about music,
which is what attracted me to it,
but when I got it home,
it was the story of a
male homosexual,
so I thought, gee, both sexes.
I was surprised.
My first real relationship
was when I was 22,
which would be 1946.
I met her through a friend,
who worked at the same office I did.
It was just...
It was like being run
over by a 10-ton truck.
(Subdued orchestral music)
We used to go to movies
and neck and hold hands.
We'd write a love letter every night,
and we'd meet in restaurants,
and we'd be staring
into each other's eyes.
I mean, why would we hide it,
you know?
We couldn't have anyway,
I don't think.
It was too strong.
(Subdued piano music)
We used to rent a booth at heintzman's.
It was 25 cents an hour,
and she would play the piano.
So we'd get a bottle of
rye and we'd head over
to heintzman's,
and have music and drinks,
and we enjoyed that.
We had a wonderful
relationship for about a year,
but she had to leave to go
to college in the states
because she couldn't
get in to u of t,
and she wanted to study medicine.
So she left,
and that was when I
really sort of came apart,
and in those days, there
was no one to talk to,
no one to tell it to because
it was such a no-no.
(Cymbals swell)
- I was born on the ocean,
Amanda white Vancouver, b.C.
And that was between
hydequy and the mainland,
up north of British Columbia.
One of the things I remember
growing up back home was that
every school year,
my father fought for me
not to be sent away to
a residential school.
Bylaw at that time,
all of us as native children
had to be taken from the reserve,
and put into a residential school.
So I talked with my dad,
and he gave me some options
that I could choose from.
The choices he gave me was
work in a cannery the rest of my life
the way my mom and my
grandmothers did,
but I also recognized I would
become crippled like they are,
or scrub and sweep the
white man's homes,
and that's not some of the
things that I wanted to do,
or stay home and have kids,
and be like everybody else is here.
Or go to the white man's
school and go there.
The only difficulty with that choice
meant that I had to
separate from them.
And when I came to this society,
I saw that the women had
to take the men's name,
and the men were the ones
that ruled everything,
and I didn't want a relationship
with someone like that,
and I realized with a woman
that you wouldn't have that,
so when I eventually got
my bachelor of education,
and I got a job over on
Vancouver island,
what had happened was that
the parents of white heritage
came and took their
children out of school
because I was the
first native person
to have been taught in
a mainstream school.
The other hard part for
me was coming home
to where I was living,
and they would literally
throw shit into my...
Break my windows and throw shit into it.
This had gone on for six months,
to the point where I finally broke
and said, "this is too hard for me.
This is not what I want."
Where I finally said, "to hell with it.
I'll go with it. I'm bad."
And I was really good bad.
I was smart, so I was bad-bad.
That's how I ended up
going onto the streets.
- People have asked me if I
believe in love at first sight,
and I certainly do.
It seems ridiculous for an old woman
to be sitting, talking about love
when you're 22,
or whatever it was.
(Orchestral music)
Walter was overseas by this
time, an infantry officer.
I had one two-year-old.
I was a high school teacher
and I went back to summer school,
and I'd noticed that
this was a woman teacher
teaching some of the
summer school classes.
And she handed these things out,
and as she handed a paper to me,
some assignment or other,
she looked at me and I
looked at her, and wham!
That was it.
We went through all this
summer at summer school,
and we were sleeping together,
we were hugging,
we were doing everything,
except anything really
too close, intimate.
We didn't get to that.
I don't know how many details
you want me to go into.
Anyway, this is what I mean.
The details.
At that point, we sort of knew.
We talked about it, talked about it.
Neither of us knew what to do.
We were so stupid.
It's hard to believe.
We spent two or three days
at this particular lake
in British Columbia,
necking like absolute mad, but
still didn't know what to do.
This seems so silly.
Finally, she was going back
on the train to Jasper,
and I said, "this is
just unfinished business.
I'm going with you to Jasper."
So I left my little boy
in charge of someone else
and iwent with her,
just drove on the train
to Jasper and back,
and on the train, that's
when things happened.
She started out by making love to me,
and I couldn't understand it.
All of these crushes I'd had on women,
all of a sudden there's a light.
This is what's wrong with me.
There's nothing the matter with me.
I just like women more than men!
I was great. I was delighted.
That was my reaction.
I was absolutely delighted,
and she said to me, "boy,
were you inhibited."
I said, "oh, well, was I?
Would you like me to do that to you?"
And she said "yes,"
and she started to cry.
So I did, and that was it.
- In the late '403, when
I was much, much younger,
I met a lot of
very nice gay people,
both men and women.
We took the boat, and the island boat
Carol ritchie-mackintosh
Toronto, Ontario
at that time went around the islands
and ended up at hanlan's point.
And we would arrive, very
posh, very beautiful,
the beautiful people on the beach.
(Gentle acoustic guitar music)
Toronto island ferry
we used to all meet
at a place called the candlelight cafe.
Everybody met there on a Sunday.
We wore whites and yachting caps,
and we had large picnic baskets
with all sorts of stuff in them.
Smoked oysters, you name
it, we had them all.
And we'd head for hanlan's point,
which was the gay section of the beach.
The very elegant part of Toronto
spanned from letros to the king Edward
to Melanie's,
all very posh bars.
You dressed to go there.
You did not go without a man.
You couldn't go to the king
Edward to the mezzanine floor
in pants, in slacks.
You dressed, and you dressed well,
and you went with one good-looking fella.
Now, what he did in
the men's washroom
was none of your business, you know,
but they made good escorts.
They were charming,
they were good-looking,
and you got everywhere
you wanted to go.
- [Narrator] Laura's heart was pounding.
She'd heard these places
could be dangerous,
but her need to be with other
women who were like her,
like "that," was stronger than her fear.
Well, she was here, and
she might as well go in.
She'd just have one drink.
I've tried so hard
to show you how / care
every chance
I get, oh yeah
how blind can you be
why can't you see
that / lo ve you
I need you
I want you so bad
not anyone
baby, baby, baby tonight
have you now
0h maybe tonight
(woman laughing)
Maybe tonight
tonight's the night
it just has to be tonight
all through the lonely day
I pray with all my might
and then once more / say
maybe tonight
baby, could be tonight
baby, baby, baby tonight
it just has to be tonight
- Mitch just bought you
a grasshopper, honey.
- Oh.
- You're new in town.
- Ah, yes.
How did you know?
- Oh, you get a sixth sense working here.
(Doo-wop music)
Why must / meet you
in a secret rendezvous
why must we steal away
to steal a kiss or two
- [Mitch] You're new in town.
- Yes, I...
Thanks for the drink.
It's my favorite.
- (Chuckles) I thought so.
Do you mind if I join you?
What's your name?
- Laura.
- Hi, Laura. I'm Mitch.
- Yes, I know. She told me.
- I bet she did.
Where are you from, Laura?
- Nowhere.
- Ah, I've been there too.
- You have?
- So listen, do you want to dance?
- Oh... no, sorry. Thank you.
Maybe next time.
- Wait.
- [Narrator] Laura just had to escape.
She liked Mitch, but
everything was moving too fast.
And yet, if she left now,
would there be a next time?
why, oh why
- the first time that I was
ever in a gay bar I was...
Ruth Christine Vancouver, b.C.
My ex-husband had
gone off to whitehorse
to play in a band for about three months.
I was about seven and
a half months pregnant.
Well, the age limit to drink
was 21 at that time,
and so I was really nervous
about being underage
and going in, but she said,
"oh well, you're pregnant,
nobody'll know you.
You look old enough to drink."
I guess if you're old
enough to be pregnant,
you're old enough to drink.
So in we went, and I was just
really nervous and scared.
I was looking around
at all these gay women.
I'd always been intrigued by it.
I just, you know, it was
really fascinating for me.
So we sat down, and...
I saw this woman sitting
across the room,
and I couldn't take my eyes off her
because she was so unique-looking.
She had this short red hair,
and she had this little black jacket on
with a little white shirt,
and a little hanky sticking out
and black patent leather boots.
She was really attractive.
She was about 20 years old, I guess,
and just young and vibrant.
So I thought about her
for a long, long time,
and that song "shangri-la"
was playing at the time on the jukebox.
And every time I heard
that song after that,
I always thought about this woman.
So when I finally came
out into the gay scene,
I asked my sister, who
is gay, about this woman.
She said she thought it was
this woman, gave me her name,
and she said, "I think she'll
be at the club tonight."
And sure enough, it was her.
It was my three-year
fantasy come true.
(Rockabilly guitar)
Vancouver, b.C. late 1950's
- so I used to go to all the bars
up and down granville street
'cause I didn't know where they were,
and I would go into a
bar and have a beer
and have my eyes peering around.
"Are they in here? Are they
in here? Are they in here?"
Finally, through a male customer,
who was accusing me of being a dyke,
said to me, "you oughta go down there,
because that's where you belong."
He told me about the new fountain,
"oh, thank you very much."
(Blues music)
And it was a choice area.
It was on Cordova street
where gastown is now,
but then it was drunks and drug addicts.
It was really, really skid row,
and I was really scared,
but I went down there all by myself,
this fresh-faced punk kid from Victoria,
who knew from nothing,
and just waltzed in the door,
and it was incredible.
- I knew nothing about skid row.
All I knew is that it was home to me.
It was just like home.
There were native people
around, people were drinking,
and all of that, and
that was normal for me,
and I felt comfortable there.
And then that's when
I heard someone say,
"oh, there's a club down
the corner down there,
and that's where all the women go."
And I went, "ooh, this is interesting,
I'll check this out here."
And that's how I found the vanport.
But it also scared the shit out of me too.
- It was filthy.
It was in an old, old building.
It's not there anymore.
I think it's been gone for along time,
but it was cockroaches
running around on the walls,
and the floors were filthy.
If you walked across the floor,
your feet stuck to
whatever fell on the floor.
If you dropped a cigarette,
you just stepped on it.
You didn't bother picking it up.
I don't think they ever changed
the little Terry towel
covers on the tables.
People would pull the little threads out
and set them on fire and burn it.
It was a dive. It really
was a dive, but it was fun.
- The vanport wasn't
exclusively a gay bar.
It just tolerated gays.
Everybody's money was good.
- There was drug addicts.
- There was drug dealers.
There were hookers.
There were housewives.
There were all these
wonderful butchy women,
who drove trucks and taxis,
and everything they could
do that was unfeminine.
(Jazz music)
- Well, let me tell you something.
When I came to Montreal,
the word that they say here in English is
"freak out".
(Car horn honking)
I went to my first gay bar.
Ba byface.
I walk in the bar.
I'd just finished my show.
Dress and all and everything.
Makeup and everything.
And I walk in there and,
bingo, I see all these women,
and I freak out again.
That's what they say in English.
You freak out, you freak out.
And I say, "whoooooo...
Women, women, women!"
(Upbeat music)
You just glimpse across the room,
and you see somebody and you said,
"mmm, that's what I want."
And you send them a drink.
Then the flower lady walks in,
and you buy her a flower, a Rose.
And she gets it, she gets the message.
She looks around, and they'll point
and say, "that's the one
that sent it for you."
So if that one was interested,
she would just go across
and say, "thank you,
would you like to dance?"
Now that was beautiful,
because everybody just
got together that way.
- It was somewhere in the area of 1951
when we found the first gay bar
in Toronto.
We'd asked some, I
think they were hookers,
on yonge street in a restaurant,
and they directed us to the rideau,
which was at Jarvis and Gerrard,
a very tough spot.
And it was kind of novel
because they had a bar for women only,
not women and escorts,
but women only.
So that the gay women in Toronto
had chosen that place
to have their drinks.
I think that only went for
a year or two, the rideau,
because they changed it and
made it ladies and escorts,
and it was just too wicked down there,
so all the ladies moved over
to the continental hotel
at dundas and Elizabeth.
There was a back room
in the continental,
and that's where most of
the gay women congregated.
(Subdued jazz music)
Vancouver, b.C.
- When I went to the vanport,
my fantasy was that this
was gonna be a place
where there's women with women.
I went in there and I saw
there were certain women,
but I couldn't find the other women,
and it really threw me because
the women they were supposed to be with
didn't look like women.
They looked like men.
I was very confused
about that whole thing,
and on top of that, it
was really hurtful too
because everybody was either
drunk out of their mind
or stoned out of their mind,
and to me, what I was
trying to run away from
was exactly this.
It was just like back home,
and then I realized it
was not what I wanted.
But then I still was so confused as well.
If you like women, how
come they look like men?
Well, heck, if you're
gonna lead a double life,
lead a double life.
Sol had to dress nicely
all my life at work,
so I dressed in black
pants, a black cowboy shirt,
sometimes cowboy boots, black,
and a big thick belt around my waist,
with a knife on it.
When it became illegal
to have a five-inch knife,
I wore a three-inch knife, and so on.
- The butches were I mean
really butch, some of them,
you know, totally butch
and so aware of it,
and swaggering around,
so we'd wait, and we'd go
over at one point and say,
"listen, are you butch or femme?
We're looking for a femme."
They would just hit the roof.
"What do you mean,
am I butch or femme?
I'm butch!"
And we'd think this was funny.
- They had big tattoos,
and men's ties, and
they had on big jackets,
and I don't know how to explain,
but they had their feet up on the chair
and they're just, you know, like,
"voulez-vous danser avec moi?"
And you kind of like...
(Clears throat)
"I beg your pardon," like, you know,
but they were gentle,
they were sweet,
they had passion, they had...
- Wild bill came from Fergus, Ontario.
She was one of the craziest
Scots I've ever met in my life.
That lady worked as a man on
a farm for many, many years,
and you simply couldn't
tell the difference.
She had a slight altercation
with a friend who she did not like,
and one day she drove her motorcycle
straight into the back
door of the continental,
and straight up to the table.
It was lovely.
- Femmes were expected to act
like femme fatales, I guess.
You know, you were...
You never opened your car doors,
you didn't light your own cigarettes,
and you never had to buy your own beer.
You could go out with
a dollar in your pocket
and go home with a dollar in your pocket.
Beer was only 10 cents
a glass then too,
so you could go out get
drunk on two dollars.
- I looked around and I thought,
"oh cripes, I don't know what to do here.
I don't feel like a real butch
who could pick up a femme,
and I'm no femme. No butch
is ever gonna pick me up."
And so I sat there, really isolated,
and really isolated,
and finally, I kind of seemed to get
a bit chummy with both sides,
but never really involved
with either side,
and I went away from there thinking,
after many attempts and going there
that maybe I had to make a
stand and choose something
so I could be part of this picture,
and I thought, "maybe I'll become a butch"
because, according to those stories,
the femmes did all the work.
They went out and had jobs
and cooked and cleaned,
and butches just had to
be cool and wear pants.
- I would say there was at
least a ratio of 10 to one,
butches to femmes, so it
was really territorial.
They would protect their territory,
and heaven forbid
that any other butch
would cross that line.
It was like...
Well, like animals almost,
like how lions defend
their mates and that.
It was that fierce.
- I used to flirt a lot, and I had...
I got away with it a lot because,
well, everybody thought it was cute,
and that's how you're expected to act.
There's been a few butches that
have little fights, I guess.
- Oh, there were fights all the time.
There were fights all the time.
It was most exciting.
But then, you see, if you're
leading a double life,
what is the point of going to
a nice friendly little tea party
when you're not doing your teaching
or whatever else you
do in your daily life?
Why not go to somebody,
really lead a double life?
That place meant you led
a double life indeed!
- We always sat with our coats
on, our back to the wall,
so we could get out in a
hurry if it was necessary.
- Oh, that's a...
We'd been to the royal
Alex, to the ballet,
and I was wearing a white
knitted suit, the whole bit.
Pearls, earrings...
And I was accosted, and I retaliated.
I ruined my suit, I
nearly lost my earrings,
but I won the fight.
- Did I fight?
No, I yelled a lot, I didn't fight,
but I yelled a lot.
The only fighting I
did was with dawn,
but I didn't get into
the public brawls
with everybody else.
I just stood back and egged
on whoever I wanted to win.
It was great,
and we'd all scatter to
the sides of the bar,
and stand up on our chairs.
You know, going, "come on, go!"
Till the police came.
(Suspenseful music)
- We saw this red light come on.
And bingo, it meant...
what is this danger?
The police is coming.
So, it means take cover.
So what do you do?
You sit there.
And I said, "oh my god,
I am just a working person
that came to this country,
I have a contract for
working, a working permit,
but if I get arrested,
they're gonna throw me out.
I'm in a lesbian club."
(Police siren)
(Police radio chatter)
The police, they come in,
and they have a flashlight,
and they just go around like,
(imitates clicking)
"Don't move, don't move!
Hands on the table!
Empty your pockets!"
And I am like... stand still,
don't move, don't move,
hands on the table.
And, you know, I said, "oh, Jesus."
- [Woman] Get your hands off her!
(Suspenseful music)
Lay off!
(Woman screaming)
- [Officer] I know what you need, girlie.
- [Woman] Let go!
- [Officer] Lezzies!
- [Woman] Let her go! Let her go!
- [Officer] Queers!
- [Officer] Come on,
girlie. Get in the car.
(Police siren wailing)
- [Man] Ugly queers!
- This one big cop,
his wife had run off with
another woman, and he was mad.
And he was mad at all of us,
he didn't care who we were.
He would harass us, and he
would follow us into the street.
He would come up to us
on the street and say,
"I want your name and address,
and I'm keeping it in my book."
And he had it in his book.
He had a book with
everybody's name and address,
and he said, "I don't
care if you're jaywalking
or what you're doing,
I'm gonna nail you if I ever catch you."
And he went after Clara one night,
and she was mad.
I mean, this woman
weighed 275 pounds,
was about five foot seven,
and it took seven cops to
put her in the bun wagon.
He had to bring six of his friends
'cause she was scrapping.
(Subdued jazz)
- You had to take the
good with the bad,
I.e., if it was kind of dirty,
if it was kind of mixed people,
you took it because it was all you had,
and if you didn't go there,
you had nowhere to go.
(Trumpet music)
Well, at that time,
it was illegal to have a
house party with only one sex.
So you at least had to
have two women.
Now, you could have 45 men
and two women.
And as long as the
women were discreet,
and could sit in the library,
and let the boys do what they liked,
and simply answer the door,
there was no problem.
- [Interviewer] What would happen
if there weren't women there?
- They would raid it.
They would absolutely raid it.
They would level it, the police.
(Suspenseful music)
- It was well known
that the Toronto police
got their kicks from picking up women
taking them out to cherry beach.
Some of them were raped,
some were badly beaten up,
and they just left them there.
I guess they got away with it
because the women were gay,
and who cared about gay women?
Gay women couldn't complain.
There was nobody to complain to.
If you went to court,
you didn't exist.
I never could come out
while I was teaching
because it was right in my contract
that I could be fired on
a Tuesday at 10 o'clock.
Well, you know what I mean.
(Suspenseful music)
- I'll never forget
one of the first times at the vanport,
I asked this older woman
that was sitting beside me,
"well, how long have
you been queer?"
She looked at me, and she said,
"it's not queer. You never
say queer. It's gay."
So I was told quite frankly
right then and there,
never use the word "queer."
I don't think I've ever
used that word since either.
- Men would bring their
girlfriends and their wives down
to look at the queers.
They thought this was great
Saturday night entertainment,
and we really got into it.
This really appealed to us.
We would be sitting at a regular
table, and they'd come in,
and we'd all turn our chairs
around and just stare at them
through sort of slightly closed eyes.
When their women got up
to go to the bathroom,
we would follow them.
Four or five of us would follow
these two terrified women
into the bathroom,
and not do anything, but
just to see their eyes,
and to see the men sitting there
wondering what we
were doing in there.
It was great.
It was lots of fun.
Even one night we got
so fed up we made a sign
"please don't feed the animals",
and stuck it on the end of our table,
and just stared.
- I can remember one
time we sat in a window
in a bar in Detroit.
It might have been buffalo,
but I think it was Detroit.
We were all in the window,
and these guys would stand outside.
They would hassle you when
you went in and went out,
because of course guys don't
like the idea that you're,
you're doing anything
with women, you know,
when you're dressed like that.
And I can remember one time,
they were all gathered out
there catcalling and catcalling.
When people today
talk about harassment,
they don't know what
they're talking about.
This one time they're standing
out there yelling at us,
I forget the things they said,
it doesn't matter anyway.
You can imagine.
And I just pulled my jacket
back and I showed my knife.
Put my hand in my pocket, you know?
Said something stupid like,
"I'm wearing a knife and
I know how to use it,"
which is utterly ridiculous.
I knew how to peel potatoes with it.
That's about it.
However, it worked!
(Upbeat jazz music)
- Oh, well, I'll tell you something.
I was the queen.
Actually, I was the only black
person I could really recall
being in the gay clubs.
Straight clubs, oh yes,
well of course,
there were a million of them,
but in the gay bars I was the only one
that everybody was chasing.
I wish they would chase me now, but...
I guess I'm too old now.
They said, "to hell with that."
But I was one of the only ones,
and you didn't see Chinese,
Japanese, nothing absolutely.
Just, just me.
- There was a lot of
prejudices at the time.
We had our wasps, you know.
They didn't like women of color.
They didn't like anyone
who was different.
- I ended up going to a black club.
At that time, they were
considered "the black club",
and basically what it was,
what attracted to me was
the music was really good,
it was very funky, and
everybody dressed really snazzy,
and that's what I wanted to get into.
I thought, "oh, this is
what I'm looking for."
This was part of fulfilling my fantasy,
of looking good and being cool,
and it was fast, it was cool,
and it was in the nighttime,
so that's where I ended up.
Actually, that's where I ended
up coming out, was in there,
not in vanport.
But in a place which was
supposedly a straight bar,
but wasn't a straight bar
because there was people
from the street going
to this bar,
and those were the only people,
but the thing I liked about it,
you could be whoever you
wanted to be in that bar.
It didn't matter because
there were actually black people in there,
there were people of white heritage,
there were Asian people in there,
and native people in there.
It was a place where
everybody belonged.
Nobody judged you for
who or whatever you did.
The majority of the women
who were working
and around the streets
are into the drugs,
are into the prostitution,
are into the dancing...
Were lesbian women.
(Provocative jazz)
They were with women.
They wouldn't identify
themselves as lesbian
or gay or anything, there
just was an unwritten code.
They were with women.
You got me jump/n ' like a crazy clown
- [narrator] Laura couldn't
quite remember
how she got back to Mitch's apartment.
She'd stayed for one
more drink at the bar,
and she never wanted
the night to end.
Hey hey, set me free
stupid cupid stop pickin ' on me
hey hey, set me free
stupid cupid stop pickin ' on me
- So what would you like to hear next?
- I don't think I could
dance another step.
I'm exhausted.
- All right then.
I'll choose one for us.
- Who's the woman in the photograph?
- That's Amelia earhart.
She was one hell of a pilot.
Quite the hero for all the
women in the air force.
I wanted to be just like her.
Just take off one day,
and have nothing between
me and the gods,
but the great big blue sky.
- She's an incredible-looking woman.
- Yeah.
(Soft music)
If you promised that you 'd call me
and / spent a thousand
nights just waiting
it would still still still be worth it
just to hear your
voice when you called
if / ruled the world completely
but / had to be a slave to love you
it would still still still be worth it
it would still be worth it my love
unless unless I'm holding you
what good can these arms be
what use what use are
these lips of mine
if yours are forbidden to me
if I had to die tomorrow
just to share
- when Dorothy and I split up,
I left her actually for Vera.
Vera finally left Iris,
and then Vera and I lived together.
In the beginning, Dorothy
and Iris lived together,
then Iris and Vera,
then Jeanne and Dorothy,
and then when I left Vera,
Dorothy and Vera got together.
So the only one that missed
out was Iris and Jeanne,
but that didn't work out.
(Gentle piano music)
- This woman came up the hall,
and for the first time in my life,
I think I just about
dropped dead on the spot.
It was just incredible.
She was so beautiful.
She was a Hungarian gypsy
with jet black hair and blue eyes.
I just took one look
at her and I was toast.
I took her home with me on the bus.
On the bus,
and it was very late, and we
were in downtown Vancouver
necking in the back of the bus
in 1963.
Pretty brave, pretty brave.
And she was incredible because
she was like a real butch.
You had to look twice
to know she was a woman
because she was really,
really skinny, no tits.
Just strides and a t-shirt
and men's shoes and tattoos
from her, you know,
slicked-back short hair.
Tattoos from her wrists to her elbows.
A real stereotypical butch,
and I thought it was great.
I'd never seen one like that before,
and I was mesmerized by this woman.
I was attracted to her
because she was like she was,
and so I became the
fluffy little femme.
The little,
heterosexual wife because
that's what we were.
We were just women who were
acting like heterosexuals.
She did the cooking because
she was a better cook,
or she thought she was,
but I did the cleaning
and looking after her.
The dutiful little wife
who never opened her mouth
because if you did, you
probably got a fist in it.
You were obedient.
You only talked to other femmes.
You didn't talk to other
butches. You weren't allowed.
It was good for a poke too.
And so we lived much as
a straight married
couple would have lived.
It was disgusting.
When I look at it now, I
cannot believe that I did that,
but I didn't know any better.
That's how it was.
But I remember one day
looking in the mirror
and saying, "who are you?
What are you doing?"
Dawn was a stone butch.
She would make love to me,
but I wasn't allowed to touch
her, and ray was the same.
That was fairly common
amongst our group.
I don't about in a larger group,
but I would say it was pretty common.
For years I had the scars
of this because she reacted
to it like I didn't know
what I was doing.
Well, I didn't know what
I was doing,
but I wanted her to teach me.
I wanted to do what she did,
and the harder I tried,
the more she said,
"no. No, you're no good.
Just forget it."
So for years I had a
complex about that,
that it was me, that I
was not a good lover.
Well, after I broke up with her,
I immediately went and
got my hair cut,
bought a pair ofjeans and
a plaid lumberjack shirt,
and walked into the bar,
and some of the people
were dismayed,
but there was mostly cheers.
The women were yelling,
"yay, Steph. All right."
They thought this was great.
This was the way it should be.
- When I met Jane, I didn't
know anything about her,
but she was someone that I
felt very much attracted to
and wanted to be with
because all of a sudden
my world seemed to open up
to something I wanted.
With my naivete, I never realized
that Jane was very much
entrenched into the street life.
I stayed together with
Jane about three years.
She would take me places,
down to L.A., to Nevada,
and kind of on a circuit type thing
that we would go through there.
It was a friend who was
of black heritage
who came up to me, and
literally kind of threw me
in front of a mirror and
said, "is this really you?"
She said, remember this is my life,
I was brought up into this.
"You've got an education.
You don't have to do this."
And that's when it made me realize
when I couldn't recognize myself,
it was time for me to get
out of that situation,
and that's how I got off the streets.
- I went to the Montreal club,
and it was I think the first
evening that I was there,
and I was talking to this
woman, an older woman
who had been in the gay
scene for a long time,
and she could tell I was upset
about my marriage breaking up,
and she said, "dear heart,"
she called me,
"if you think it hurts to get
your heart broken by a man,
wait till you get your
heart broken by a woman."
I didn't really understand
exactly what she meant.
I thought, "well, a broken
heart's a broken heart."
But it was different.
When it happened, I
realized what she was saying
because I find being with a
woman is a lot more intimate,
a lot more shared than with a man.
So the pain, when you lose that,
when you love somebody and
they don't love you anymore,
the pain is harder.
You're losing a part of you.
I never felt when I
broke up with my husband,
I was losing a part of me.
I thought I was losing him,
and my family,
and my surroundings.
I never really felt I
was losing a part of me,
but when I had my first
heartbreak with a woman,
I felt I was losing part of myself.
Kind of sad.
(Upbeat music)
- In 1970, we made a big group.
It was the traveling band.
Ricky and Ruby and
the travelling band,
and it was a good band.
We went to Churchill, manitoba.
We went to fort Williams.
We went to a little town
called the pas,
and then labrador and flin flon.
And then rouyn-noranda, val-d'or,
seven islands,
mont laurier.
There was no problem
running into sisters
because they're all over,
what can I say?
There were lots of married women
that I went with, especially in b.C.
It was too bad that the
guys were so,
they were such bastards, I
would say the word "bastards."
Women, it was this big
competition about women.
Who's gonna have the
first girl in town?
Who's gonna have, as they
say, "the first lay"?
There they are,
buying all these drinks,
inviting these women, and doing
all kinds of stupid things.
I would just sit there.
I'll finish my show.
I did nothing.
I had somebody knocking
on my door or calling me
on the phone.
It was so beautiful.
They hated me.
They hated me for that.
They started to fight with me,
they started to call me names,
like you lesbian,
you this and you that.
How come we worked for
three years before
and everything was fine,
and now, because I'm
alone, my brother's gone,
you guys are treating me this way.
I used to walk off the stage
almost every night in tears.
So one day I just said
to myself, "this is it."
And I said, "guys, you know what?
Fuck you."
- My ex-husband never really made
any comments one way or
another about gay people
until he found out that I
was going out with women,
and then he...
I guess he took it personally.
I mean, it was a personal
affront to him
that I chose to be with women,
and he just went...
Completely changed.
He turned religious,
he became a fanatic.
He must have taken
seven years of his life
trying to get me to come
back, and to be straight,
and to drop my women friends.
Of course, what he didn't realize
is that it wasn't because of him.
It was because really deep
down it's what I wanted,
but he took it personally,
and he's always resented the
fact that I've been with women,
and when he found out that
my oldest daughter was gay,
well, that was the last straw.
I mean, he just flipped,
and because of his
religious background,
he honestly feels that I'm going to,
well he wrote me a letter,
he wrote my youngest
daughter a letter actually,
telling her not to have
anything to do with me anymore
and to put a cross and
skullbone on my front door,
and just to...
Just write me right out of her life,
and he commented, what did he say?
"Your mother is gone,
and I've lost my beautiful
daughter dawn.
She's going to burn in
hell with her mother
because she's decided she wants
to be with women as well."
So that's his feelings about it.
Like we are, you know, we're
living in Satan's house,
and he uses those kind of words,
like "Satan's house" and...
And "pits of hell," and you know.
(Ominous organ music)
(Witch cackles)
- And so I got really,
really drunk this night,
and I was with a bunch of people.
The rumors were starting to
circulate about me being gay,
and I still wasn't
comfortable with my gayness
at that point.
So I thought, "well,
I'll prove you wrong."
So I was with this male customer,
and I ended up in his room,
and I ended up pregnant.
I didn't think I could have this baby.
I didn't think it was possible.
Also I was gay!
And I'd heard all sorts of horror stories
about what happens to children of gays.
It was really great that I
got to raise Rachel on my own
because I could raise her the
way I wanted to raise her,
to be a strong, independent
woman who nobody would walk on,
and when she was five,
I got into a relationship with a woman
and decided then to
tell her I was gay,
and I just explained it as
being an alternate lifestyle,
that there were those
of us who were different
from other people.
Not wrong, or no blame,
but just different,
and she was very accepting,
and she still is.
She's about the least
homophobic person I know.
She's very gay positive,
and she's very angry
when people aren't.
And he blessed and he broke it.
And he gave it to them saying,
"this is my body which
is given up for you."
I got involved with
metropolitan community
church about three years ago,
and I had been through
several church homes,
and each time it came close to
the fact that they would
find out I was gay,
I either heard from
the pulpit it was wrong
or I knew that they
thought it was wrong.
May the body of Christ protect you.
There was a lot of violence
towards mcc.
The mother church, after
they'd had it three years,
was burnt to the ground.
Churches were desecrated
and spray-painted.
Three churches have
been burned down.
23 people were killed in a
fire in the New Orleans church
that somebody set while
they were in the service.
Our ministers are
consistently mugged, beaten,
some of them are murdered.
I didn't want to tell Rachel about that
because she has certain fears.
She knows some of the stories
about what's happened
to some of the churches
and to the ministers,
and I really downplay it.
But there are times when I'll
go to a specific function,
she'll say, "will you be all right?
Will you be safe?"
- Choice!
- When do we want it?
- Now!
- What do we want?
- Choice!
- When do we want it?
- Now!
- And if you aren't
mistresses of your own bodies,
you're a slave.
That's what slavery is.
Having someone else control your body.
Males have tried to regulate
reproduction all their lives.
Oh, I don't think men
should run the world at all.
A lot of people agree that
men are boys or something,
and I think they are.
They're boys like the
boys in lord of the flies,
and that's what they do to the world.
They've brought the world
to the brink of destruction
in every way you can think.
I think post-menopausal
women should run the world.
- What do we want?
- Choice!
- When do we want it?
- Now!
(Saxophone music)
- I stopped writing in the
early 19603 at a time when
my children were just of
an age to start asking
what I was doing at the typewriter
for so many hours a day,
and beginning to be able to read,
and interested in what I was doing,
and it made me uneasy.
I wish I had been braver
because I think I was beginning
to be a lot better writer.
It was easier to live in my head
than to go out and live a real life,
and I sometimes wonder if
I harmed myself somehow.
I've gotten so good at it
that's now it's tempting
to stay in my head.
I think that's probably
not what one should do,
one needs to get out,
but on the other hand,
it was a strategy that
probably saved my sanity.
I was doing what
everyone told me to do.
My family, my life, my
culture, my society all said,
"be a good wife and mother."
And I gave it a long
run and a good try,
and it finally didn't work.
And so I'm living a much better life.
I'm much truer to myself now,
but you can't go back and rewrite it.
(Soft orchestral music)
- I got very sick.
Very, very, very sick.
Like, kaput. C'est fini.
Todo. Terminado.
(Dog barks)
And they did lots of tests,
and lots of tests.
They took about a month.
And they said to me,
"Nairobi, guess what?
You need a heart."
And I said,
"oh, are you kidding me?"
My transplant, it was in 1988,
and I'll never forget that date.
The 13th of July '88.
That's my lucky number.
I was shocked at my mother.
That was the first time
that my mother kissed me
because she never did before.
I thought she thought
that kissing a lesbian
would have been dangerous.
And when she laid down close to me,
or stooped down and kissed
me, I'll tell you what.
I, as they say, I saw the light.
My mother kissed me.
And I looked at her and said,
"mother, you kissed me!"
And then she kissed
me again and smiled.
She said, "you'll make it."
That was just before I went
to the operation table,
and I loved that.
- I was brought up in the
haida nation, and our cultures,
and our values and our
beliefs are much different.
I wasn't brought up with christianity,
my first language is not English,
and the values of ownership,
of materialistic things,
was not part of my values.
But I realized when I came to the city
that this society bases
the value of a person
on what job they do and
what they own.
(Birds chirp)
For a person of white heritage,
you're walking down the street,
you are not targeted as
lesbian or gay,
but as a native person you're
targeted as a native person,
and when you realize that your choice
of your partners of the same sex,
then you realize that there must be
something even more wrong with you
because society doesn't
accept you already
as it is, but now you've
got this thing added on.
Does that mean you lose
your people in the process?
Now where do you belong?
- It took a lot of courage
to be what we were.
These were all courageous women.
We were all out there
flaunting the law,
and just being brave enough
to do what we were doing
with no support, with
no help from anybody.
And it appealed to me,
especially as a 21-year-old.
I was really into being
a rebel, so it was great.
I think that attracted
a lot of young people
to the lifestyle then.
It was the forbiddeness.
It was doing something
that was slightly illicit.
- Now when I look back
on it, I realize that
the people back home
were very strong people,
and the women that were in vanport,
even though they scared me,
were also very strong because
they actually got out there
and said, "this is who we
are, whether like it or not."
- When I came into the gay scene,
what I appreciated about it
was that the women that had
decided what they wanted to be
and their sexuality
were very strong women,
and they had to be to
make a decision then
because it was very
hard to be gay then.
It just wasn't accepted with
your families or friends.
And women, I found,
stuck together more.
- I think that not being able to
move freely through
society as a human being
and a person with dignity
isn't exciting.
I think maybe robbing a
bank is exciting,
but not being an outcast
because you have preferences
that the majority don't have.
That's not exciting.
It never was to me.
I don't want to offend anybody.
I just want to be a person.
I just want to walk through life freely
and not harm anybody.
I don't want to be harmed, I
just want nice social contacts.
I just want to have fun.
I don't want to have to think,
"oh, there's something wrong with me.
I'm not as good as this person.
I have to sit at the end of the table,
or I have to go to the
back of the bus."
That sucks.
- I trust all women.
If there was only
women in the world,
I would never lock my doors.
I lock my doors to keep the men out,
not to keep the women out.
I lock my doors to keep the women in.
(Soft orchestral music)
(Woman moans)
(Chime rings)
(Soft music)
- Laura?
Se-cret-i y
wish we didn't have to kiss
se-cret-i y
wish we didn't have to be afraid
I made you a coffee.
Show the world that we 're in love
- thanks.
It's my favorite.
(Both laugh)
- [Narrator] Laura thought
she would be caught
in a hideous trap of warped desires.
Instead, she found her
wildest dreams had come true.
Now she knew what she was for sure.
A lesbian!
(Singer vocalizes)
Come softly, darling
Come to me, stay
your my obsession forever and a day
I want, want you to know
I love, / love you so
please hold, hold me so tight
all through, all through the night
I speak softly, darling
hear what / say
//o ve you always
always, always
I've waited, waited so long
for your kisses and your lo ve
please come, come to me
from up, from up above
come softly, darling
come to me, stay
you're my obsession
forever and a day
I want, want you to know
I love, / love you so
please hold, hold me so tight
all through, all through the night
I speak softly, darling
hear what / say
I/o ve you always
always, always
I've waited, waited so long
for your kisses and your lo ve
please come, come to me
from up, from up above
come softly, darling
I need, need you so much
want to feel your warm, warm touch
(singer vocalizes)
- I keep laughing at what you said
about this thing being a hit.
Do you remember that?
- Yes.
- What did you say?
- I said, "Lois, with our luck,
this movie will be a hit.
And there will be people lined up
outside with baseball bats to get us."
- It won't be anything new for me!
It'll be like the old days.
- Yes.
- The old days outside
one of the gay bars.
They were great stuff.