It’s still tough out there to be a lesbian and to be anyone within the 2S umbrella but the interview subjects in Ahead of the Curve remind viewers of a worse time. That was the 1980s, when there was no visibility nor representation for 2LGBTQ+ people in the celebrity and political worlds.
Ahead of the Curve‘s subjects also remind viewers that there’s something worse than the lack of representation. Queer bashing is still commonplace, but it delineates those times when men would kill lesbians and the news of those hate crimes would disappear quickly. These hate crimes is just one of the factors that made way for a queer woman, Franco Stevens. She rose from being a closeted lesbian to being the woman who she is today.
The film closes up on her and they both retrace her steps and she takes viewers to the places where things happened to her. Some of Stevens’ steps include leaving her first straight marriage and running away to San Francisco. There, she worked at a 2LGBTQ+ bookstore and started the first ever magazine for lesbians, Deneuve. One interesting step takes place at a horse track where fate got her that big startup money.
Ahead of the Curve then jumps back and forth within moments of the lives of both Deneuve and Stevens. And the later points of that timeline cover the debate about the word lesbian. The film shows those organic debates about the stigma that still comes with the word lesbian. People still associate word lesbian with a certain look and exclusivity that isn’t fashionable today.
It’s always good to have films depicting lesbians making strides, and films like this always include celebrities. Magazines need celebrities to sell. But it’s still strange for the film to choose getting celebrities on covers as one of the major hurdles for Deneuve and Stevens as opposed to bigger things.
In fairness, Deneuve and Stevens’ biggest challenge is a celebrity, Catherine Deneuve, who is one of the possible source’s for the magazine’s name. It took a whole hour before Ahead of the Curve addressed it. The same goes for Stevens’ needs as person who requires physical accessibility. As I write this though, the film smoothly transitions from those challenges to overcoming them.
Sure, celebrities can distract from people who identify as lesbians and members of the 2S LGBTQ+ movement. But they also help making the community visible in print, which is a good result to get. It’s important for a film to let us know about Stevens, Deneuve, and the magazine’s new spinoff, Curve, and how they championed the community. Lastly, there’s a quick post-credit scene with a sentiment that every 2SLGBTQ+ can agree with.