Home' LOTL : August 2006 Contents 14
Many lesbians today could not imagine life
without LOTL, but there was a time back in
the 1980s when we had to rely on word of
mouth to find places where we could meet
each other. I thought we deserved better.
I was working for ABC-TV as a producer’s
assistant and together with a friend of mine
who also worked there, Jaz Ishtar, we
began production on what would become
an instant success.
Issue One of Lesbians on the Loose in
January 1990 was to have been four pages
with free advertising, but Mardi Gras came
on board with a paid ad and we went to
Jaz went overseas after a couple of issues
and around the same time, photographer
Tom Fairweather (then Dianne) began his
stint as LOTL’s longest lasting contributor.
The moment that I believe ensured LOTL’s
survival came in 1993 when I made a decision
to quit my job at the ABC. LOTL got my
The following year my partner Barbara
Farrelly quit the editorship of the Sydney Star
Observer and came on board with me as
joint owner and editor. Our shared passion
for lesbian publishing saw the magazine
thrive and grow to a readership of over
50,000. We had some great times together
running LOTL out of our home in Surrey
We added colour and more pages and
ran some fabulous stories and interviews.
Many celebrities were coming out and
we spoke to Melissa Etheridge, Dorothy
McRae-McMahon, Kerryn Phelps and Janis
Ian, among others. We had Ellen DeGeneres
on the cover only days before she came out.
There was, however, one celebrity lesbian
who was being elusive. kd lang was touring
Australia and was doing interviews in the
straight media left, right and centre. In the
mid 90s she still hadn’t granted any lesbian
magazine around the world an interview, and
LOTL was no exception.
Unbelievably, one morning I saw her walking
right past our house. Chance is a fine thing!
I raced inside and grabbed a tape recorder
and followed her round the corner to a café
where she was sitting with a reporter from
. . .Vogue!
She was only inches in front of me, I asked
her as nice as pie, but she still said no. To
add insult to injury, Vogue wrote the whole
piece up casting me as a lesbian stalker!
When she fell in love with whatshername
from The L Word, kd relented and at last
talked to the lesbian press here and abroad.
While we had our fair share of celebrities,
LOTL was community-focussed and most
of our stories were about ordinary lesbians;
lesbians who had been discriminated against,
such as the couple who were refused family
cover by insurance giant MedibankPrivate.
Other groundbreaking stories were about
lesbians fighting for our rights such as the
first couple to adopt a child. All our stories
were about lesbians who were achieving
outside the closet.
I am really proud of the difference LOTL
made to the lives of these lesbians and our
readers over the years.
With all the women who worked on LOTL
in the first 10 years, we created a true
It was by lesbians and for lesbians. It gave
lesbians a space to grow their businesses
or tell others about their support group or
dance. The very popular Personals gave
lesbians a place to find a girlfriend. More
than that it gave lesbians pride.
Over the years I have often been asked
why I chose the name Lesbians on the
Loose. (An American travel guide publisher
said that it was her favourite name next to
US gay mag, Homo on the Range).
When we first published, some readers
found the word ‘lesbian’ confronting.
However the title was about the magazine’s
philosophy – being out, proud and having
fun – and no one ever forgot the name.
Nevertheless it was a mouthful and
was shortened to LOTL fairly early on in
the piece. Subscribers, including those in
Muslim countries, always had copies mailed
with LOTL on the envelope.
One schoolteacher told us that when asked
what was inside she said, “Languages Other
Now Barbara and I are living happily
together with our three cats in a small fishing
village on the south coast of NSW.
I volunteer with the fire brigade and she
writes fiction at home. We have not found it
hard to be out in the country. The locals call
us ‘the girls’ and no one batted an eyelid
when I came out on the fire truck. When I
applied for a job at the local newspaper, I
showed my boss LOTL. I got the job.
We have, however, met lesbians who have
found it hard to come out, some young and
some old. While it may be easier to be out
these days, there are still public figures like
Cardinal George Pell who peddle shame.
Homophobia runs deep and can make us
our own worst enemy. For me, it was always
about lesbian visibility.
Happy 200th and best wishes for your
LESBIAN ON THE LOOSE
FOUNDING PUBLISHER AND EDITOR OF LESBIANS ON THE LOOSE
FRANCES RAND TELLS HER STORY.
Photo: Barbara Farrelly
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