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Ink marks on empty dreams

I am a footstep on the sands of time, I am an ink mark on an empty paper, without stanzas, without rhymes

Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller

“We can be an army of two. We can be Plato’s perfect army: lovers, who will never behave dishonorably in each other’s sight, and invincible. Let the world either kill us or grow accustomed to us; here we stand.”

 

Alma Routsong alias Isabel Miller, her penname, referencing her mother’s maiden name and an anagram of the word “lesbia” writes the story of the pioneers: painter Mary Ann Wilson and her partner Mrs. Brundidge. She saw Mary Ann Wilson’s name in a museum, while admiring one of her folk-art paintings, when Alma read a small review out of which she realized Mary Ann’s partner was another woman and that is when she start being interested in writing about their lives. Alma and her partner even communicated with Mary Ann and her partner through a Ouija board and found out that Mrs. Brundidge’s first name was Florence.

The book’s original name was “A place for us” and after it was renamed to “Patience and Sarah” it was first published in 1969 and of course it was self-published by the author.

“Patience and Sarah” is a historical lesbian romance whose drama of the struggle of two women trying to move out of Connecticut and make a life for each other during the nineteenth century in the state of New York was a touchstone for the gay and women’s activism of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

 

“I began to wonder if what makes men walk so lord like and speak so masterfully is having the love of women. If that was it, Sarah and I would make lords of each other.“

 

The unexpected expected in this lesbian classic : Patience, the lipstick lesbian of the couple is 27 years old, she seems fragile and sweet, with a nice education given by her father, is ready to get married, especially that her father has passed away and she lives with her brother and her sister in law and their children, they want to get rid of her, so that they can have the house for themselves and give Patience the crumbles left by their father. Patience’s faith seems to be sealed, but Patience is not only pretty and feminine, she is also smart and very strong, with a will that stuns according to the fact that the action of the novel is set in the nineteenth century, more precisely 1816.

Sarah is the butch lesbian stereotype of the couple. She is 21 years old and her family is numerous and they hold a farm and she is the physically strongest of the children and that is why she has the main role as her father’s help and endures the hard work of the farm. She understands that she is different, because she understands the feelings she has towards women. But, only after she meets Patience, she understands how is it like to be attracted by a woman and also to feel the act returning, to feel how it is like to have in front of you another women that is attracted to you. She knows that she has to leave her father’s farm, so that she will be able to have a life as she desires and to have a home with the woman that she loves.

 

“I knew she’d let me go with her, and that she was only trying to play man, all slow and steady, not impulsive, weighing carefully. I was amused, but I didn’t say so. Time enough later to teach her that it’s better to be a real woman than an imitation man, and that when someone choses a woman to go away with, it’s because a woman is what’s preferred”

patience and sarah by isabel miller

 

The author has other plans for Sarah. She must go the road less taken to maturity first. She needs to evolve as a person and have an unique life experience that will change her life forever and that will prepare her for the future of her life with Patience. Also, Sarah makes the mistake of telling one of her sisters that she loves Patience and her whole family knows that now and her father doesn’t takes it well and applies Sarah painful corrections. Sarah knows she has to leave.

Sarah is crossed-dressed and she can very well pass as a man and when she finally decides to leave home and take Patience with her, she’s shocked by Patience’s denial.

 

“You leave me. I feel the cold air like a sword where your warmth has been. You tear my whole front open when you cease to lie along it. My skin goes with you. I could bleed to death.”

 

Patience is also somehow shocked herself, but the reader understands Patience is not yet ready to leave and Sarah is not yet ready with a relationship with Patience and with her own self, she needs to evolve as an individual, and so she starts her new path, after she leaves Connecticut and taking Patiences’s denial with a heavy heart, she goes through many difficult situations, passing as a young man, but every farmer she meets and offers her shelter, suspects he (she calls herself Sam) is a villain, a convict of some sort.

Until she meets Parson Peel that drives a carriage and sells book from door to door and he shows Sarah a different side of humans, he is kind and helpful and they start a journey that will be the best life experience for Sarah in this certain moment of her lifetime.

The striking moment that changes their relationship is when the Parson makes a move on Sarah thinking she’s Sam, a man, showing he’s desires for other men. Sarah confesses she is a woman loving another women, being the reason for her passing as a man. And so starts their friendship. The Parson and his wife will help Patience and Sarah when they will arrive to New York.

After that moment, Sarah decides it’s time for her to go back to Connecticut to her family and to Patience.

patience and sarah

They have a talk and they find a way to see each other daily : Patience will teach Sarah how to read. Sarah always comes with a female member of her family, they don’t really get the chance to be together. Her father is greatful Sarah is back and helping him with the farm and everything is alright between them.

Patience had her own ways of evolving herself, more like inner self. She understands her position in her brother’s house, she knows he has to give her some money for the part of the house her father left and for her animals. She knows why Sarah left and she is waiting for her to return, as she felt the glimpse of desire far more acute than Sarah. And she had to face her own demons, her past desire for her sister in law from the beginning of her adulthood when they were friends, before she became her brother’s wife. She had to go away from her, to stop feeling responsible for her, to help her with the children and with the household, because she was pregnant. She also told her brother she had wanted to leave at one point. She misses Sarha more than she can say or show someone, she is incomplete. She understands her love for women and her passion for Sarah. She waits for Sarah to return to her with a despair that almost hurts.

And when Sarah returns, Patience feels complete again and she knows what she has to do to convince Sarah of her love and that they need to leave Connecticut to find their place in the world, as a whole, together.

Patience in not impatient anymore, she has patience now. She will convince everyone of her friendship with Sarah and creates a plan for them to leave, not empty handed but with her small inheritance and make a home for themselves in New York state.

 

“You come to me through the dark, when you need rest, when the snow is deep and blowing, when no sister is gracious about accompanying you, when your mother protests and your father threatens, you come to me. And now, you know as well as I, that you cannot resist me. We both need the proof.

You are so much finer than I, noble, generous, devoted to freedom, unwilling to bully. But it is I, and the traits in which I differ from you, who will save us.”

 

That’s why she proposes Sarah to see each other daily and that she will teach Sarah how to read and that she needs to come always together with a family member. They will have some small moments from themselves, when they will show their love for each other, they share kisses and embraces. Remember we are talking about women who love each other in the 1816, they had no role model, they had no idea why they had these feelings, they only knew they desire each other and want to live together.

Patience also has another trick in her sleeve, she will attract Sarah in her bedroom and will leave the door open, hoping her brother or her sister in law will come in at one point, and so it happened. Her sister in law never liked Sarah and she was the one who “caught” them in bed kissing and told her husband and Patience had to face an angry Edward. But, after he reconsidered, they talked and Patience told her about their plans, that she will leave to be happy with Sarah and that he and his family will have the house and the animals for themselves, with a small contribution from his part. Agreed, and so Patience and Sarah’s journey to Genesee starts on a ship. They have a cabin of their own, but of course, they had some strange occurring issues, too. Sarah is confused with a man and a man came over her, not realizing she is a woman.

 

“And where do you put your hands?

Here, I said, holding mine out to her.

Now that you are a woman, I can treat you like one”

 

After that awkward moment, she will be silent, Patience’s supposed rich and silent relative. Patience is the bold one and does all the talking and they safely arrive to New York city. The captain helps them too, as Edward asked him too, they arrive at the Parson’s home and finally they try to find a home in New York state, not reaching Genesee, but after a great search they find a home for each other and they leave happily ever after.

“I looked on up to her eyes and held there steady, thinking pretty soon she’d look away, and then when I knew she wouldn’t, the silver thread our eyes were joined by began to hum like far-off bees. I felt my soul melt and flow out along it. I felt my heart melt and drip off my fingertips.

I am trying to tell exactly true.

“Do you forgive me ?” she whispered.

“Yes.” I wanted to say more. I couldn’t , but it was enough.

We stayed that way a time that can’t be said the ordinary way.

One minute-twenty minutes-a thousand years-I don’t know.”

 

 

I enjoyed the fact that the narrators are both Patience and Sarah, evoking the facts at first person, showing both their points of view on different situations, as well as their daring love and passion for each other, an outstanding love story between two strong women with a confident defiance and a belief in their strengths and their wishes. They are the creed of the 60’s generation : live and love free as your heart desires.

“The story of the Prodigal Son attracted and warned me. He demanded his patrimony, as I meant to demand mine. He squandered it. I tried to imagine how one might squander – what dissolute living might consist in it. Searching my soul for an answer, I found again my longing for Sarah’s lips. But that wasn’t dissolute in a man. Men could have women’s lips. And I felt, I think for the first time, a rage against men. Not because they could say, “I am going” and go. Not because they could go to college and become lawyers and preachers while women could be only drudge or ornament, but nothing between. Not because they could be parents at no cost for their bodies. But because when they love a woman they may be with her, and all society will protect their possession of her.”

 

I loved the fact that the characters evolve as individuals before starting a life together, but I think Patience’s self counsciousness could have been more spicy.

I adored their declarations of love, their times together, kissing and embracing and their outspoken feelings for each other :

“Who can count the times the waves will take her unexpected, in the deep of a kiss and throw her teeth against my lip and nick it. But she will heal the nick with a touch of her tongue, always, and hug me down to give me the feel of the lovely waves she makes again and again for me, all my nights.

Where are we, high or deep? “”Heaven”, she says.

We’re high then. We stay here so long, like gulls that don’t have to move to stay up.”

rachel shelley

Also, both the characters have struggled so much, like most of the book, to convince their families to let them go, of the love of each other, and so little of the book is left to speak of their life together.

As a conclusion, “Patience and Sarah” is a remarkable book, of it’s generation, with an outstanding love story between two dignifying women, that overcome all odds for the sake of their love and their life together, another view upon the American dream, the pursuit of lesbian happiness.

 

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Battle of the Sexes movie 2017- based on the true story tennis match between women’s No 1 – Billie Jean King and fifty something ex-champ and self-proclaimed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs

“The Battle of the Sexes” is a biographical sports comedy drama based on the true story tennis match of 1973 in a packed Houston Astrodome. It stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell, respectively women’s No 1 Billie Jean King and fiftysomething ex-champ and self-proclaimed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs – fighting to prove that men are better at tennis and better, full stop.

“He made a bet, she made history”

The film crucially faces the same challenge as the participants from real life: the challenge of tone. How unseriously should this match be taken? How strenuously should the attitude of casual joking be maintained? No one involved in this encounter could be certain of its outcome; neither side could be sure of avoiding humiliation, and thus everyone had a vested interest in keeping it light. Up to a point. But only one side was facing joking as a weapon, the same weapon of boorish condescension and toxic exchanges that they faced outside the sporting arena every day of their lives. The movie displays the same gracious good humor as its heroine.

billie jean king and marylin barnett2

In 1973, King was enraged by the fact that female players on the grand slam circuit were paid a tiny fraction of what the men got, despite pulling in the same number of paying customers. She formed the breakaway Women’s Tennis Association, and having duly punished King with excommunication from their club, the male tennis establishment was quietly scandalized to discover that, far from failing ignominiously, the women were finding support from the American public who rather liked them as rebels and pioneers. They got sponsorship and even some sympathetic press coverage.

She is instantly sympathetic and humanly vulnerable; her address to the camera has a cartoony clarity and vigour, a distinctive kind of wide-eyed openness, accentuated by the trademark glasses. (This is surely history’s only premier sports event in which both players have worn glasses.) And her Billie Jean is sensual and vulnerable when she discovers that, despite being married, she is falling in love with a woman: LA hairdresser Marilyn Barnett – another unassumingly excellent performance from Andrea Riseborough.

billie jean king and marylin barnett

As for Carell, he is the only possible casting for Riggs: the humourless, belligerent guy thinking that he is the life and soul of the party, dressing up in silly costumes. It’s a variation on his David Brent manager Michael Scott from the American TV version of The Office or his weatherman Brick Tamland from Anchorman. And he is that certain kind of middle-aged guy who by wearing shorts makes his buttocks look unsexily gigantic, like barrage balloons.

In real life, Riggs was supposed to have a skill in lobs and drop shots that would counter King’s hitting power. Yet in acting terms, it’s Stone who is subtly floating shots over the net, and comedy star Carell who is going for the double-fisted line readings and visual laughs.

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And what remains of this argument now? Jimmy Connors won against Martina Navratilova in 1992, at a younger age than Riggs but with rule handicaps. John McEnroe grumbles away at the subject in the present day. But King’s point remains the same: meaningful equality is what she wanted. Nowadays, sport and sports careers are too disciplined and careful to allow for these wacky Barnumesque contests. But pay disparity remains, and not every workplace has access to the Houston Astrodome to put them to the test.

Watch the trailer :

 

 

Sources :

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/nov/23/battle-of-the-sexes-review-emma-stone-steve-carell-billie-jean-king-tennis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sexes_(film)

 

The Space Between Our Hearts by Kat Evans

The write is smooth and silky as caress, not having the roughness of a detective story.

The two main characters are Taylor Ross and Stephanie Scruggs.

Taylor Ross is the soft half of the whole love being the author wanted to create. I am not sure if intended, but she holds many  physical features and many emotional prints of herself, like her emotions, her innocence regarding people’s intentions, her little life experience, her confusion regarding her sexuality or her sexual choices, her bisexuality, her clothes, her make-up, the cross necklace. The reader feels somehow closer to Taylor, than to Stephanie.

kat evans the space between our hearts

She seems soft, yet she is strong, she is a woman and a mother, that loves her children very much, she has even become too thoughtful regarding the care of her children, even over-protective towards her daughter Claire. That is why I found it very intriguing when we go along the storyline and her daughter is kidnapped while she is taking a shower, careless for a couple of minutes, she becomes the main suspect, of her daughter’s death. The reader doesn’t know if she is guilty or not, that is the author’s credit. She is accused of her daughter’s kidnapping and death and she spends five years in prison, on a far from clean case with indirect/ inconclusive proves. Even, Taylor’s ex-husband, Matt, believes her guilty and blames her for their daughter’s death during her moments of careless.

lesbian lovers hot

Those little details make Taylor the best character in the book, the one the reader falls in love with.

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Another turning point in the book is Taylor’s relationship with Beth, which happens in prison and somehow, Beth becomes Taylor’s protector and lover. Beth gets out of prison and promises to visit Taylor and after she gets out to, to spend their lives together, yet after the first month Beth breaks every contact with Taylor and she can’t get a hold of her anymore, not even after Taylor gets out of prison. We can say she knows what is like to kiss another woman, but she doesn’t know how it is like to live with one, nor to have a relationship with her. She is confused, she doesn’t want to know if she can be with a man or with a woman, until she meets Stephanie, she feels weird around Stephanie and doesn’t understand why and has certain feelings towards her, like butterflies in her belly and the need to touch her, kiss her and being touched and kissed in exchange.

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Stephanie Scruggs is the second main character. She’s the rough part of the whole love being Kat Evans created in this story. Stephanie is anchored in reality, she has faced many milestones in her lifetime : she is a retired soccer player and a retired law enforcement officer, because of a knee injury. She lives in a small town called Macon. Stephanie is the opposite of Taylor in responsibility and self consciousness. Sometimes authoritary, sometimes cold as ice, sometimes burning of passion, Stephanie made a career out of her second job choice : private detective, working together with a small team at their own small firm. Her partner is her lifelong friend Roger and together they feel they have a hot case on their hands : Taylor Ross’s. And especially, when Stephanie kisses Taylor and feels like she can start a relationship with her, Stephanie knows she had broken the golden rule of their engagement: never get involved with a customer.

lesbian detective

Yet, Stephanie is a woman that loves women and has experience in a relationship with women, she knows exactly whom she wants, and now, she wants Taylor. She is so very much attracted to Taylor’s rebel spirit, to her alluring vision and to her beauty. The only fact that holds her back is not the fact that she could be a murderer, but the fact that she is a customer and she doesn’t get involved with customers. Yet she falls for Taylor.

The kissing and their lovemaking scenes are beautifully penned by Kat Evans. I loved the first impressions, the smoothness of their kisses and touches and how she described their sensations. I wished the first time they made love was different, but it felt amazing, according to the consequences.

 

Less plausible was Stepanie’s attitude towards Taylor, after she believes Taylor is guilty and they have made love.  No matter how tough the woman could be or how difficult the situation they’re into, a lesbian lover never behaves like that. This is where Stephanie’s character trembles.

lesbian lovers 2

The milestone (turning point) of the book is when the reader finds out, that Taylor is not the murderer, yet the society and the Police have to face a serial killer, mainly Jonathan Collins. And even more than amazing is the fact that Roger and Stephanie discover the above mentioned fact.

 

What happens next is predictable, Stephanie and Taylor will work together and fight to bring this serial killer to justice. Another surprise comes along with Stephanie’s kidnapping by Jonathan Collins and she is close to death, while Taylor and Roger struggle to get to her and save her in the end.

lesbian lovers

Happy end!

 

I had no idea it is a self-published book until I did a little research on Kat Evans, and this is why I give it more credit and encourage such beautiful writings.

 

 

Sources :

 

http://weird-sister.com/2016/07/05/romance-novel-bibliotherapy/

Extraordinary women – Sophia Yakovlevna Parnokh – Russia’s Sapho

 

sophia_parnok_by_klimbims-d787lb3

Dedicated to N.P.P.

I’m drunk on your wild caresses,
You’ve driven me crazy for you…
Just tell me I’ve only been dreaming
So I can believe that it’s true.

No, you want to torment me forever –
Why shouldn’t you play and have fun;
And smiling, you answer, carefree,
“We won’t do again what we’ve done.”

29 August 1902
Rostov-on-Don

 

 

Sophia Parnok (София Яковлевна Парно́к, 30 July 1885 O.S./11 August 1885 (N. S.) – 26 August 1933) was a Russian poet, journalist and translator. From the age of six, she wrote poetry in a style quite distinct from the predominant poets of her times, revealing instead her own sense of Russianess, Jewish identity and lesbianism. Besides her literary work, she worked as a journalist under the pen name of Andrei Polianin. She has been referred to as “Russia’s Sappho”, as she wrote openly about her seven lesbian relationships.

“Just listen, how amidst inspired dreaming
the soul will suddenly lay bare its secret curves.
Let your thought illuminate them brightly
with creation’s breath in an audacious surge.
You will see, then, how the endless distance
so easily and wondrously removes its haze,
and there upon a lofty pedestal of marble
the depth of worlds feels Beauty’s silent gaze.

1905”

Sophia Parnok, named Sonya Parnokh at birth, was born in 1885 into an affluent Jewish professional home in Taganrog, Russia. A southern port town on the inland Azov Sea, Taganrog was outside the immediate influence of Russian politics at a time when religious minorities, including Jews, were pervasively persecuted; while most Jewish settlers were forced to live within the Pale of Settlement, Parnok and her siblings were raised to think of themselves first and foremost as Russians. Their father, the local apothecary, was indifferent to religion and highly assimilated into Russian culture, and the family was materially comfortable and lived among the intellectual elite. While she was still quite young, however, her mother Alexandra Parnokh , a doctor, died while giving birth to twins.

Parnok attended the Empress Marie Gymnasium for Girls for ten years, studying a wide range of topics, including several languages, music, and math. She was also educated by a governess who became her stepmother, and she “carried away from her childhood the strong feeling that she had had no childhood, that she had emerged into adulthood at too young an age,” wrote her biographer Diana Burgin . Already beginning to write poetry in her youth, Parnok was rebellious against her family’s settled existence, believing it restrained her creativity. When she was about 20, she left to study music in Geneva, Switzerland. Before completing a degree there, she moved back to Russia, this time to St. Petersburg, where she studied history, philosophy, and law.

sophia parnokh

Life

Life  is a woman. Merely by her own seductions
Intoxicated, she will stand above her victim.
The more unhappy is the soul that lies before her,
the fuller she all is with unrestrained desire,
How often her mysterious gaze has hovered over
my soul with powerful inquisitiveness,
but merely had my soul to quiver in responding  –
and silently, with unconcern, she sought the distance.

1905

Beginning to write seriously, Parnok was first published in a literary journal in 1906. Several of her literary reviews at this time were published under the male name Andrey Polyanin, as she believed that her work thus would be more seriously accepted within the male-dominated literary circles. In 1907, Parnok married Vladimir Volkenshtein, but the marriage was brief in large part due to her lesbianism, of which she had become aware very early in her youth. She accepted and celebrated this facet of her self, frequently invoking mythological goddesses and the poet Sapho in her work: in one poem, using the voice of Aphrodite, Parnok writes, “There’s talk, Sappho: / They want to know to whom you write your eternal love songs, / Nectar of the gods! To young men or to maids?”

It still hasn’t got any cares, it’s still young at heart,

it still hasn’t cut its first teeth, our Passion –

not vodka, not spirits, yet no longer water,

its mischievous, bubbly, melodious Asti.

You still don’t know how to pale when I come up to you,

your pupil still doesn’t become fully widened,

I know, though you think that the magic I do

exceeds what I did in Kashira or affectionate Kashin.

Oh where is that tiny, forsaken, and garden-filled town,

(perhaps on the map they don’t bother to site it?)

in some kind of sixteen-year-old excitement?

Where’s the cottage with jasmine and the welcoming night,

and curlicue arches of hop-plants above us,

and thirst which could no longer be satisfied,

and sky, and a sky more impassioned than Petrarch’s.

At the end of my last or next-to-last spring –

together the two of us dreamed crazy dreams,

I burn up my night in a savage, a beautiful fire.

Dec 26 1931

As the strictures of the Victorian era faded and then were swept away in the sea change brought by World War I, women’s contributions to and acceptance in Russian poetry increased. Using her own name, Parnok published her first book of poetry in 1916, simply titled Poems. During this time she maintained intimate relationships with several women, including Nadezhda Polyakova , and began writing freely about her experiences. Her love affairs directly influenced her work, leading to surges of creativity that linked artistry and eroticism. An intense two-year relationship with poet Marina Tsvetayeva , who was married and the mother of a child, coincided with a particularly creative period.

 

Give me your hand, and let’s go to your sinful paradise!…

Defy all State Pension Plans of heaven,

May returned for us in wintertime,

and flowers blossomed in the greening meadow,

where in full bloom an apple tree inclined

its fragrant fans above the two of us,

and where the earth smelled sweet like you,

and butterflies made love in flight…

We’re one year older now, but what’s the difference –

old wine has also aged another year,

the fruits of ripe knowledge are far more succulent.

Hello my love! my grey-haired Eve!

Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Parnok moved to Sudak, in the Crimea, where she continued writing poetry and also wrote a libretto for an opera. She returned to Moscow in 1922, the same year she published her second book of poetry, Roses of Pieria. This was followed in 1923 by The Vine and in 1926 by Music. In an effort to avoid Soviet censorship, with some others she established a small press called Uzel (meaning “knot” or “group”). The government soon learned of the operation and shut it down. Her final book of poetry, 1928’s In a Hushed Voice, was published after it had been edited by censors. Later considered by critics a major work, the book went essentially unnoticed at the time. In 1930, Parnok completed a libretto for an opera, Almast, which was successfully staged at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow; it was the last of her work made public in her lifetime. In 1931, she met her last love and companion, physicist Nina Vedneyeva , who greatly influenced her work during the following years. Parnok’s health grew steadily worse until she died of heart problems in August 1935, in the village of Kirinsky, near Moscow. Her death barely received mention in the Moscow papers.

diana l burgin sophia parnok the life and work of Russia's Sappho

Much of Parnok’s literary career corresponded to a time of increasingly severe repression in Russia, as the group became idealized and prized far above the individual; Joseph Stalin denounced lyric poetry in particular for being out of step with his political goals for the country. Despite the very limited printings of her work and her small audience, Parnok persisted in writing in a bold style, publishing five volumes of poetry, a significant quantity of literary critiques, and the libretti to several operas. (It is believed that much of her unpublished work has been lost.) She was the only openly lesbian voice in Russian poetry at a time when homosexuality was considered psychologically abnormal and a sign of moral degradation in Russian society. Beginning in the 1970s, interest in Parnok’s work grew significantly. A collection of Parnok’s poetry, Sophia Parnok: Collected Works, was published in the United States in 1979 by Sophia Polyakova of Leningrad University (it was not published in the USSR)

Perhaps because I wished to fall in love with being
with so much obstinate avidity,
I felt more vividly how bottomlessly
dispassion for it had come over me.
But what of now? Can I be captivated
by life in an enraptured rush I do not understand?
My soul luxuriates in boundless freedom
as if inhaling life for the first time.

1905

 

Sources :

Diana Lewis Burgin

http://www.dianaburgin.com

https://theinkbrain.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/sophia-parnok-poems-and-fragments-early-and-late-translations-by-diana-lewis-burgin/

www.encyclopedia.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_Parnok

check books on her :

Sophia Parnok: The Life and Work of Russia’s Sappho

by Diana L. Burgin

 

https://books.google.ro/books?id=52MVCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=Sonya+Yakovlevna+Parnokh+poetry&source=bl&ots=Ukgvhg5cwV&sig=Aw4OH3fJlsrm0euiy42s6sw_gbE&hl=ro&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjf5afI6_XZAhXJBSwKHdh-DrQQ6AEIVDAL#v=onepage&q=Sonya%20Yakovlevna%20Parnokh%20poetry&f=false

Women Who Kill – the queer movie

“Do people always fall in love with things they can’t have?’

‘Always,’ Carol said, smiling, too.”

Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt.

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Women Who Kill sounds like a bad documentary on Netflix…and in some ways it’s meant to sound that way. But I’ll get to that. To start with, the film is genre non-conforming (pun intended): it’s a thriller, but also a comedy; a satire painted with a rainbow-colored indie brush with horror lurking in the shadows. It is, in short, one of the most subversively hilarious lesbian movies I’ve ever seen, and refreshingly unique in a world of ten “Fast and the Furious” movies.

Morgan (played by Jungermann, who wrote, stars and directed) is an awkward, introverted Lesbian with a capital L. She drives an old Subaru, wears loafers and large sweaters over a collared shirt, and gets nauseous during moments of emotional intimacy. Uncomfortable in her own skin, relationships, particularly commitment, make her even more uncomfortable. She runs a podcast about female murderers out of the apartment she still shares with her bisexual ex, Jean (Ann Carr).

women who kill lesbian

This popular podcast, the eponymous “Women Who Kill” (doesn’t sound quite as catchy as “Serial”), makes them enough money to be a full-time job and leaves them time to do things like visit imprisoned lesbian serial killers and join the local food co-op in their neighborhood (Park Slope, Brooklyn). The co-op is pretentious and fits every stereotype about co-ops, but it is where Morgan meets the young and Gothic Simone (Sheila Vand).

Simone pursues Morgan aggressively and the two start to date, even though they seem to have nothing in common. Things start to derail, however, when one of the women from the co-op is killed and Jean suggests that Simone might actually be a serial killer they previously profiled on their podcast. A spark of physical jeopardy is introduced that turns Morgan and Jean into bonafide, real-life snoops in their own personal lives, but is Simone really a killer, or is she a misunderstood outsider kept at arm’s length by Park Slope’s privileged culture? Morgan never actually asks, which is just another indicator of the emotional disconnect and self-involved nature of Park Slope’s residents.

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Women Who Kill is biting in its mockery of “privileged culture” (kale, co-ops, gentrified neighborhoods, and a healthy dose of self-obsession and neurosis), but it also is like a more subtle version of a Kate McKinnon lesbian skit on “SNL.” Jungermann knows lesbian culture and exactly where to scatter a sly inside joke that will leave queer female audiences guffawing. There is a reason the film won the best screenplay award in the US Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival.

For all that, it’s a fantastic movie and one very well worth seeing for anyone who enjoys dark comedies, but there is a small disconnect and a bigger, glaring problem. The disconnect comes in the form of the attraction between Morgan and and Simone. What does each see in the other? What draws them and keeps them together despite their vast differences in life experiences? Similarly, what was the attraction between Morgan and Jean, both of whom seem equally washed out by life? Neither sparkle with the vivacity that would keep a relationship alive, which is perhaps why theirs petered out.
Ingrid Jungermann: That’s exactly it, I hope people see that aspect. The intention, absolutely is to spotlight that. As a young person, growing up in Florida, in a religious setting – only after years of therapy or a lot of work can you undo the damage of the message that “you’re wrong, who you love is wrong and how you love is wrong.” We experience first-love, full of fear and darkness. All those feelings are mixed up with what should be a wonderful experience. We carry around this self-loathing and internalized homophobia. In that way Women Who Kill is a dark, romantic-comedy that’s specifically queer.

Watch the trailer :
Sources :

Frieda Belinfante – but I was a girl

This us the story of Frieda Belinfante (1904-1995), a remarkable woman who was the first female conductor to have her own symphony orchestra in Holland and later in Orange County, United States. Controversial, because of her homosexuality she shows a remarkably strong and positive will in everything she does.

portrait of Frieda Belinfante
Born in a family of musicians in Amsterdam, she joins the resistance during WW II and flees to Switzerland. After the war she moves to the U.S. where she proceeds with her musical career in the Hollywood studios and forms her own symphony orchestra with only Hollywood musicians. The story of her life is told by herself, her older sister Renee, old students and friends, and illustrated by the places where she lived, archive material of her orchestra and some of her most beautiful music.

Dutch cellist, conductor, and anti-Nazi resistance fighter. Born into a musical family, she began studying the cello at the age of 10. She debuted professionally at age 17, and worked as a director of various ensembles. In 1931 she was briefly married, although she explained to her husband that she was a lesbian. She had relationships with women throughout her life, keeping them private, but caring little about public opinion. In 1937, she was invited to manage the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, making her the first woman in Europe to conduct a professional orchestra. She continued to enjoy success in her career, appearing regularly on Dutch radio and conducting around Europe, but her work was cut short when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands. Along with her friend, gay artist , she joined the resistance movement early on, creating forged documents for Dutch Jews.

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Belinfante, herself, was half Jewish. In 1943, to prevent the Nazis from checking forged documents against public records, she aided her friends in the bombing of the registration office in Amsterdam. The plan successfully destroyed 800,000 identity cards of Jews and non-Jews alike. Sadly, members of the resistance group, including  Arondeus, were arrested and executed shortly afterwards. For the next three months, Belinfante disguised herself as a man to evade discovery. She eventually escaped to Switzerland by crossing the alps on foot, only returning to the Netherlands after the war. In 1947, she came to the United States, where she resumed her musical career in California, forming and conducting the Orange County Philharmonic Society to great acclaim. But preferences for a male conductor and rumors about her lesbianism contributed to her dismissal from the orchestra in 1962. Fifteen years later, Orange County would acknowledge her contributions by declaring a ‘Frieda Belinfante Day.’

Also, check the movie :

 

…But I Was a Girl: The Story of Frieda Belinfante (1999)

 

Sources :

http://jewishcurrents.org/tag/frieda-belinfante/

http://queerportraits.com/bio/belinfante

If you could be mine by Sara Farizan

 

What can a lesbian young girl do in Iran ? How can she live, love and make a living without marring? Sahar is 17 years old, her mother dies and she lives with her depressed father and above all, she is in love with her best friend, who happens to be a girl : Nasrin.

If you could be mine by Sara Farizan tells the opposites attract story of Sahar and Nasrin, best fiends since childhood, mainly since they were 6 years old, Sahar even remembers that since she and Nasrin were 6 years old she had wanted to marry her. She has even told her mother that she wants to marry Nasrin, but her mother told her not to think nor speak about that again.

Sahar’s parents loved each other very much, her mother’s family was rich, while her father’s wasn’t and they actually married for love, but her mother’s family disowned her and they lived without a great wealth. Everything went well and they have lived happily in their Teheran apartment, until her mother died and their world fall apart. Her father barely spoke to Sahar and Sahar relied on Nasrin, her best friend. Sahar is a smart, average young woman who wants to be a doctor. She is almost 18 and studies hard to go to the best college in Iran to be a doctor.

Nasrin is a very beautiful young woman, clever, but not really interested in school, yet very much interested in fashion, make up and she is very interested in always looking amazing, yet sometimes even breaking the rules : for example in Iran a woman can be arrested if her elbows are showing (Sahar has to lie to the police that her clothes shirnk in the wash and she hadn’t time to change them). It may seem funny, but it is grotesque on how the women are being treated there.

sara farizan if you could be mine quote

Nasrin’s family , the Mehndi’s, are rich and their condition is far over Sahar’s, yet Nasrin’s parents don’t love each other, they had an arranged marriage, but her father is a pistacchio merchant and he earns a lot and they can afford many things Sahar’s family cannot. Nasrin’s mother wants her to be married as soon as possible, while her brothers have lazy lived sustained by the family.

Sahar and Nasrin have very deep, beyond friendship feelings and their love is confessed in secret, they even share stolen kisses and hot embraces during their “study hours”, but Nasrin doesn’t wants to discuss how their live together can be.

The turning point is the moment when Nasrin’s engagement to Reza, a young doctor, is announced during a family dinner.

Nasrin didn’t tell Sahar about it and Sahar felt hurt and realized she didn’t want to recognize the roles each of them played in their relationship. As her cousin Ali told her : Sahar is Nasrin’s puppy, following her everywhere, her wishes are commands to her and not getting anything in return. Nasrin was selfish, she wanted to have all the attention to herself. Sahar was the opposite. But, she had no doubt that Nasrin loved her, but what could they do? What could she do to stop the wedding and have Nasrin to herself?

Ali, Sahar’s cousin is a student, theoretically, but practically he is a pimp for : Mother and Daughter and a sort of obscure drug dealer and a gay and transsexual party thrower. He seems to have many aquintaces and one of them will become Sahar’s friend : Parveen. Oh, and Ali is very much gay.

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Parveen is a different story, she was a he before the sex change operation. Parveen is a very beautiful woman, feminine and possessing all the skills to be a fashionable one to. She was a man before she knew she is transsexual and did not feel comfortable in her own body, she decided to have the change and she is now a selfconscient woman.

Sahar met Parveen at one of Ali’s parties and he told her Parveen is transsexual and then the thought flourished in Sahar’s head : the only way to stop Nasrin’s wedding was that she , herself, would become a man. That’s why she attended Parveen’s group meetings with other transsexuals and Sahar told them she wanted to become a transsexual in a month. Parveen tried to explain this isn’t physically nor psychologically possible, but Sahar went on and even went to a sex change clinic in Teheran.

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The authorities allowed sex change clinics , because the sex change was allowed as the cure to the desease. They were all sick and had to be treated this way.

At the clinic, when she waited for her turn to talk to the surgeon, Sahar meets Reza, Nasrin’s fiannce . Fate made them meet there and complicate the story even more. Of course, Sahar didn’t do the sex change operation and Reza never spoke to Sahar about their meeting there, he hasn’t even told Nasrin. Sahar did. And Sahar also told Nasrin she couldn’t stop her wedding and they stood apart a while. In all this time Sahar had to focus on study and thought a lot about her relationship with Nasrin. Sahar knew their last meeting was about to happen, so she planned it carefully, while she talked to Ali on fleeing the country and go to Turkey.

iranian lovers nikohl boosheri and sarah kazemy

Sahar and Nasrin’s last meeting before the weeding was very emotional and breathtaking, but Sahar learned that she had to break free. She didn’t fled to Turkey, because of the pleading of her father and she even attended Nasrin’s wedding.

The big surprise was Nasrin’s mother : she knew about Sahar and Nasrin’s love for each other and she told Sahar that she had to find Nasrin a husband in order to stop this. And she made it. She even made the day and the night the worse of Sahar’s life.

lesbian lovers

Sahar and Nasrin stood apart for the rest of the upcoming period. Sahar is now in college and Nasrin is happily married to Reza. Until one evening when a desperate Reza came to Sahar pleading her to see Nasrin. Of course, it was all about Nasrin again. At first, I thought she missed Sahar and wanted to leave everything behind and run away with her, but instead Nasrin felt bad and she was helpless and in need for a knight in shining armor to rescue her : she was just pregnant and scared. I think that were Sahar’s mere thoughts. When she realized what is going on, Sahar played the best friend part and after leaving Nasrin safe and sound at home with her husband, she realized how free she is and how fortunate to be in college, follow her dream to become a doctor and how lucky she was to have a colleague student that had a crush on her.

 

Where love is illegal – ANGELA / USA

Angela’s story

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“When I was growing up my parents fought a lot so I spent a lot of time at my best friend’s house. Her family was very evangelical and I remember her dad coming into the room and telling us it was ‘not right and not normal’ for us to be sleeping so close together. When her mom told us we had to stop spending too much time together it broke my heart. They would tell us that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful and even though I’m not a Christian I feel like their words got engrained inside of me for quite a number of years because I felt a deep sense of shame about myself for being attracted to women. As I got older I had other friends who were straight, or mostly straight, and we often found ourselves sleeping in the same bed. On multiple occasions I was told by them to ‘give them some more space.’ That would always hurt a lot. Looking back, I understand now that I had crushes on all these friends, but at the time I was deeply embarrassed to admit it and fearful of destroying my friendships if I expressed any hint of attraction.

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When I turned 22 I started a four year relationship with a man. I thought I was too much of a man-hater and that I needed to give men a chance. Four awkward and turbulent years later, I finally accepted that men and I were simply not going to work together.
The first time I fell in love with a woman, the entire world suddenly made more sense. A sense of beauty and meaning overwhelmed me in our short yet forever life-changing relationship. I finally understood why there were so many love songs in the world, and love poems, and why people felt so strongly about having a partner or a passionate love-fling. I used to think romance was a collective expression of obsession or insanity. Suddenly I understood that it can be so much more than that.

When my relationship came to a close, I decided to create Lesbihonest Podcast to share my own experiences and those of other lesbians. My first episode was called “How to Survive a Lesbian Breakup,” which thankfully I did, and since then I have traveled to France, scotland, ireland, Czech Republic, hungary, Poland and Spain talking to other women about lesbian rights, culture and visibility in their countries.

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The queer scene both in the United States and in Europe has been a bit harder to navigate than I would have ever expected. As a mostly feminine-presenting woman, I’ve often been mistaken for straight even by other lesbians, and meeting other feminine-presenting lesbians to date has been a challenge. Yet I know that there are far more pressing challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, which I strive to expose and explore in my podcast.

Angela is a lesbian woman currently residing in California. Her podcast can be found at thelesbihonestproject.com.”

 

Source : http://whereloveisillegal.com/angela/

Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson4“When did you last see your mother? Someone asked me. Someone who was walking with me in the city. I didn’t want to tell her; I thought in this city, a past was precisely that. Past. Why do I have to remember? In the old world, anyone could be a new creation, the past was washed away. Why should the new world be so inquisitive?

Don’t you ever think of going back?

Silly question. There are threads that help you find your way back, and there are threads that intend to bring you back. Mind turns to the pull, it’s hard to pull away. I’m always thinking of going back. When Lot’s wife looked over her shoulder, she turned into a pillar of salt. Pillars hold things up, and salt keeps things clean, but it’s a poor exchange for losing yourself. People do go back, but they don’t survive, because two realities are claiming them in the same time. Such things are too much. You can salt your heart, or kill your heart, or you can choose between the two realities. There is much pain here. Some people think you can have the cake and eat it. The cake goes mouldy and they choke on what’s left. Going back after a long time will make you mad, because the people you left behind do not like to think of you changed, will treat you as they always did, accuse you of being indifferent, when you are only different.”

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“Oranges are not the only fruit” by Jeanette Winterson is a lesbian classic book. After it was released it was set next to cooking books in the libraries’ bookshelves. It would be funny if it wouldn’t be tragic.

Jeanette Winterson tells her own life story and the book is a memoir, rather close to a confession. There are many themes and motifs enveloped in her confession especially from her childhood : Jeanette has spent a lot of time in an industrial town in England in her adoptive parents’ house. Her mother is the main character in little Jeanette’s life and instead of a playful childhood, Jeanette is dragged in an over-religious world her mother created : her mother brought her up as one of God’s elects and raised Jeanette as being destined to be God’s missionary. In her zealously, Jeanette’s mother offers her only oranges as the only fruit, a symbol of that Jeanette should always do as she is told, by herself in a religious excess and human obsession – the oranges represent heterosexuality.

Jeanette doesn’t even go to school until the authorities oblige her adoptive mother to and school is also a bad experience for a religiously inoculated Jeanette, who ends being marginalized and laughed at by her colleagues. Her mother is not interested in anything but religion, religious societies and missionary priests. To please her mother, Jeanette takes her role seriously and helps in converting other people to, but the turning point is when she falls in love with one of the converts, Melanie and although she can’t tell what it means, she understands her mother will hate her for it, but her secret is discovered by her mother and starting now, Jeanette’s image is changed in her mother’s eyes and starts becoming an outcast at home.

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There are many characters in the book that sustain the two main characters : overzealous women from the church, the two ladies from the newspaper shop that love unholy, Elsie, Janette’s old friend, Melanie and the pastors. The book has chapters as the Bible has in the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, obviously the Bible holds a great deal in Jeanette’s life, especially in her childhood, but she doesn’t only obey it, but also she questions it, disagrees with her mother and the pastors, starting with the moment when she is accused as being unholy when she falls for a woman and her mother realizes she cannot be the missionary she was raised for to be.

Her mother wants Jeanette to go away from home, she doesn’t want her here to ruin the plans she has left for the church or the missionary societies she fights for. She doesn’t care about Jeanette’s feelings, Jeanette’s dreams or desires as a young woman to evolve and do something with her life searching her talents. Because she ruined her mother’s dream who raised her to become a missionary, her mother’s unfulfilled dream herself, she threw Jeanette away. That proves she only used Jeanette for her selfish misfortune.

Jeanette leaves home at 16 years old and works hard to sustain herself. It doesn’t matter, because she was out of a toxic environment that treated her as an outcast anyway. She works hard because she knows this is the only way she can follow her heart, her dreams and to end up in the big city. She won’t end up with Melanie nor other converts, but she will find love in the big city.

I loved how the author sees her story within a fantastic story of Winnet, a sorcerer’s apprentice, who will have to choose between the castle and the village, who will choose the village instead of her heart to become of stone. Living in the village, working hard she hears of the big city and all the possibilities it holds for her dream and will face many obstacles to end up there and become free and live the way she wants. The story is a metaphor for Jeanette’s real life story.

I loved the way the story was told, I enjoyed the characters and the main theme: to sacrifice her comfort, her past, her childhood home and her mother’s love to pursue her heart and her dreams.

 

“I want someone who is fierce and will love me until death, and be on my side for ever and ever. I want someone who will destroy and be destroyed by me. There are many forms of love and affection, some people can spend their whole lives together without knowing each other’s names. Naming is a difficult and time-consuming process; it concerns essences, and it means power. But on the wild nights who can call you home? Only the one who knows your name.”

 

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A far better description of the book you can find here :

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/oranges/motifs/

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