The Women Who Inspired ‘Ahead of the Curve,’ a Documentary About the First-Ever Glossy Magazine for Lesbians

Meet the poets, activists, lawyers, and other amazing women featured in this ode to lesbian culture and visibility.

May 8, 2019 · 4 min read
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Curve Magazine

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In the late ’80s, Frances “Franco” Stevens knew she wanted to start a magazine for lesbians, but she didn’t have the money to do it. So, she did what any enterprising upstart would do: she applied for a bunch of credit cards, cashed them in, and bet on (and won) a couple of long-shot horse races. “At the end of the day, I had enough money to start the magazine,” she says.

In 1990, Franco founded Curve (originally named Deneuve), the first-ever glossy magazine for lesbians that has since become the most successful publication of its kind. Ahead of the Curve, a new documentary project by director Jen Rainin and producer Rivkah Beth Medow, aims to tell the story of Curve’s rise to popularity in the ’90s and Stevens’s tangible impact on lesbian culture.

Through interviews with Franco and others including educator Kim Katrin Milan and slam poet Denice Frohman, Rainin and Medow share a story that underscores the need for platforms amplifying queer stories. “We’re making this film because LGBTQ rights remain under attack, and visibility is one of our most powerful tools to combat discrimination,” says Rainin.

Here, the filmmakers share some of the women who have inspired them — all of whom appear in Ahead of the Curve:

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Franco Stevens

“Curve magazine founder Franco Stevens heard so many people say she couldn’t make her magazine — and she did it anyway. She is our role model.”

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Kim Katrin Milan (left) and Denice Frohman

“Activist Kim Katrin Milan reframes the golden rule to ‘treat others the way they want to be treated,’ rather than the way you want to be treated. That means we have to ask.”

“Poet Denice Frohman cracks open our hearts with her lyrical language around the beautiful lineage of queer women.”

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Arielle Scarcella (left) and Jewelle Gomez

“YouTube star Arielle Scarcella sneaks in messages of self-acceptance and empowerment in her lesbian sex ed videos.”

“Author Jewelle Gomez spoke to us from the heart about the violence toward lesbians she experienced in the ’90s.”

“Kate Kendell is a kickass spokesperson for LGBTQ rights and a huge Franco Stevens fan-girl.”

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Jenni Olson

“Filmmaker Jenni Olson has been a consistent source of connection, support, and inspiration. She paved the way for our film with her incredible career.”

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Michele Turnure-Salleo (left) and Hayley Kiyoko

“Producer Michele Turnure-Salleo was the first person to recognize that Jen should direct this film.”

“Rock star Hayley Kiyoko’s music makes our production meetings so much fun!”

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Lauren Kushner and Caroline von Kühn

“SFFILM’s Lauren Kushner and Caroline von Kühn believed in this film from the earliest days.”

Ahead of the Curve is live on Kickstarter through May 29, 2019.

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