Ahead Of The Curve, Shines A Light On The Importance Of Representation In An Anachronistic Way

Ahead Of The Curve, Shines A Light On The Importance Of Representation In An Anachronistic Way

“If you can see it, you can be it.” This adage applies to all minorities who have waited for a historical turn to see themselves represented in mainstream positions. This is what Ahead Of The Curve focuses on. The documentary directed and co-produced by Jen Rainin, who is the wife of Curve magazine founder Franco Stevens, retraces how the foundation of this media platform for lesbians has been influential in providing a voice for the community.

The movie tackles the important issue of visibility, by taking a trip down memory lane, intertwining Franco Stevens’ coming out and coming of age in the 80s and 90s, with the creation of the lesbian magazine that initially was called Deneuve. The choice of the name was apparently inspired by Stevens’ first girlfriend, but was eventually renamed in 1996 Curve, after a trademark dispute with French actress Catherine Deneuve.

The film is produced by Frankly Speaking Films, which is a queer, woman-led creative team that produces media, that centres stories about strong LGBTQ+ women, to spark change. And indeed, Ahead Of The Curve, is inspirational for the issues related to supporting the plight of the lesbian community. The story of the magazine itself is empowering in portraying how a woman in the nineties, managed to pursue her dream in the world of publishing, inventing a new format that would differ from gay erotica magazines of her time, to portray female homosexual life as ordinarily glamorous. Curve had the power to address all lesbians in the population — “from Butch to Femme” —simply from the angle of a lifestyle outlet, providing advice on day-to-day devoirs. 

Ever since it launched in 1990, this outlet was pioneering in its unapologetic celebration of lesbian life, during a time when homosexuality was approached with utmost prejudice. Several are the interviews with contemporary LGBTQ+ activists, who give their insight on the way the magazine revolutionised and normalised the perception of lesbians at the time. Amongst the “celesbians” interviewees there are Melissa Etheridge, Jewelle Gomez, Denice Frohman, Kate Kendell, and Lea DeLaria.

Despite the uplifting work of Franco Stevens, to create this important space for the LGBTQ+ community, the way the film Ahead Of The Curve approaches the narration seems to raise the walls that the Curve tried to knock down. The magazine wanted to fight for an inclusive society, where lesbians would not be marginalised, but be an intrinsic part of society. And it definitely accomplished its mission. Nowadays, with the new generation of activists, the question that rises is how this awe-inspiring platform can evolve, and the narrative angle of the documentary seems to gather testimonies from the lesbian community who confront the issue only in an antagonistic way. 

The audience becomes the passive observer of a potentially prodigious shift in history, where people blend together notwithstanding their gender or sexual orientation. But all the events and conversations are carried out exclusively from one voice, that promotes only “radical love.” We never see heterosexuals, joining the rightful plight, almost as if they were excluded from fighting for a universal cause. 

In these regards, the 2020 documentary seems stuck to the historical setting of 30 years ago. It lacks the inclusivity it seeks and professes, by excluding the voices of those who do not belong to the LGBTQ+ community, but support the idea that “Love Is Love.” Ahead Of The Curve definitely strikes home, on how women in the nineties needed a platform that would represent them, and that would allow them to fully embrace their identity.

However, our time is different from when Franco Stevens was trying to fight the stigma surrounding the lesbian community. Since the launch of Curve many more outlets and even TV shows, such as The L Word (which is mentioned in the documentary), have proven that our society has evolved in including LGBTQ+ stories. Nowadays, cisgender, transgender, non-binary, are all identities that are part of our current culture. It therefore seems anachronistic to continue the conversation of inclusivity only within each category.

Ahead Of The Curve will be released at the IFC Center in New York on May 28th On Demand and on DVD June 1st.

Final Grade: C+

Comment (0)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here