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 Featured Title
A Queer Love Story
The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout
Marilyn R. Schuster  

$50.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 5/1/2017
ISBN: 9780774835435    

648 Pages


About the Book

In August 1989, Jane Rule -- novelist, essayist, and the first widely recognized "public lesbian" in North America -- summed up the first eight years of her correspondence with Rick Bébout, journalist and editor with the Toronto-based Body Politic: "It seems to me that what has concerned us is richly human and significantly focused on the concerns of our time and our tribe."

A Queer Love Story presents the first fifteen years of their correspondence. At turns poignant, scintillating, and incisive, their exchanges include ruminations on queer life and the writing life as they document some of the most pressing LGBT issues and events of the 1980s and ’90s, including HIV/AIDs, censorship, youth sexuality, public sex and S/M, Toronto's infamous bath raids, and state regulation of identity and desire.

Rule lived in a remote rural community on Galiano Island, British Columbia, but wrote a column for the Body Politic. Bébout was a resident of and devoted to Toronto's gay village. As writers, Rule and Bébout hoped to nurture a more precise language to articulate gay and lesbian lives. In her letters, Rule reflects on her life with companion, Helen Sonthoff, and expectations regarding marriage, monogamy, and long-term relationships. In his letters, Bébout details his more "promiscuous affections," ranging from a knowing glance at a stranger in the subway to obsessional on-again, off-again affairs. Together, they offer sharp-eyed and unsentimental observations on queer communities and politics and, if those politics clashed with their personal beliefs, they were not afraid to express more radical views, most notably opposition to same-sex marriage, a conviction they both shared.

A Queer Love Story showcases not only two incisive minds in intimate dialogue but also, more largely, how members of the queer community worked together to build ties of love and friendship amidst intolerance and outright hostility.

About the Author(s)

Marilyn R. Schuster is the author of Passionate Communities: Reading Lesbian Resistance in Jane Rule's Fiction. She was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Smith College.

Table of Contents

Foreword / Margaret Atwood
1981 "Any question of such censorship"
1982 "An odd flu"
1983 "It's raining men"
1984 "Moved by a stranger"
1985 "Why is a star a word for the exceptional?"
1986 "What is it we want when we want sex?"
1987 "Life and its sheer wonder"
1988 "Loving is a way of being"
1989 "Xenophilia"
1990 "The dying of the light"
1991 "There is no fault"
1992 "A lesbian in the '40s"
1993 "It's all right (even useful) to write drunk, as long as one edits sober"
1994 "I accept this degree"
1995 "A public space for our views and values"
The Last Chapter "I will do my best to live up to you"
Dramatis Personae


"These letters swept me up like a novel. The evolving friendship between these unlikely correspondents -- the older lesbian writer and the younger gay editor and activist -- is, indeed, a love story. But their love is about something much larger than themselves. Jane and Rick's running analysis of the sea changes occurring in queer life, from the radical seventies, through the AIDS-devastated eighties, to the assimilationist nineties, is incisive, deeply considered and, above all, engaged. In the current era of atrophying attention spans and political atomization, these lush, eloquent letters between people who see themselves first and foremost as part of a movement are exhilarating."
-- Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of Fun Home

"A Queer Love Story is an extraordinary gift. The letters unfurl a heartwarming friendship, a fierce commitment to ideas, and the ordinary iterations of everyday life that enrich the public and political profiles of these two important writers. Marilyn Schuster deserves the highest praise for recognizing the profound value of these letters and turning them into a book that reads like a novel."
-- Jim Downs, author of Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation

"The passage of time has only burnished this living legacy of intimate exchanges between the greatest lesbian writer of her generation and the peerless gay editor who was her closest confidante. To read this gift to history is to eavesdrop on two profoundly perceptive eyewitnesses to events central to all our lives, in a conversation unsurpassed in its intelligence, richness, insights, and wisdom."
-- Katherine Forrest, pioneering lesbian author and editor

"The letters in A Queer Love Story are not simply a look into private lives, which are satisfying and rich in themselves. Here are two powerhouses influencing Canadian history. They helped make our queer history -- one word, one gesture, one fight at a time. I felt waves and waves of gratitude, both for the work these two heroes performed and for the chance to see it documented, to be welcomed into that past. This book will remind you just how deeply personal are our political struggles."
-- Michael V. Smith, author of My Body Is Yours

"It is a queer love story indeed, and it is a story that must be told. This book reminds readers that other, more radical alternatives are available, that conversations about these alternatives were very much part of both feminist and gay liberationist discussions in the eighties and nineties, and that Rule and Bébout lived the promise of queer community considerably avant la lettre."
-- Catriona Sandilands, co-editor of Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire

"These very readable letters, written in a braver and less conventional time, offer a refreshing view that prizes friendship over coupledom and suggests how we all -- gay, straight, or just plain queer -- might organize our lives and loves outside of the ready-to-wear straightjacket of family and marriage."
-- Ken Popert, former president and executive director of Pink Triangle Press and long-time member of the Body Politic Collective

"A Queer Love Story offers fresh insight into two important figures in Canadian LGBT history -- their lives, their views, their activism, and their deeply engaged friendship."
-- Ivan Coyote, writer and storyteller

"These letters document a love affair with ideas and moral meaning, as two writers separated by age, gender, and geography give each other space to think about the pressing queer social and political issues of the eighties and nineties. Their respectful exchanges offer an insightful running commentary throughout a tumultuous fifteen-year period of Canadian LGBT history."
-- Ed Jackson, long-time member of the Body Politic Editorial Collective

"The intelligence of both writers, the means by which they directly confront the issues affecting the queer community and identity politics, and their desire to explore love, power, the erotic, and the nature of sexuality -- these are some of the most engaging facets of these letters."
-- Linda Morra, editor of Jane Rule's memoir, Taking My Life

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]

Related Topics

Communications Studies
Cultural Studies
Gender Studies

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of A Queer Love Story from UTP Distribution at:

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