How ‘Ahead of the Curve’ Chronicles the Legacy of an Iconic Lesbian Magazine

The story of Franco Stevens and her groundbreaking work with Curve, an iconic lesbian magazine, is vividly portrayed in the documentary “Ahead of the Curve.” The film begins at a critical juncture, with Stevens pondering the magazine’s uncertain future. It explores her challenges and triumphs, illustrating the profound impact that Curve had on its readers and the broader LGBTQ+ community.

The Birth of a Visionary Magazine

In 1990, a young Franco Stevens founded what would become Curve magazine, originally named Deneuve. She financed the venture with winnings from a race track, symbolizing the risky and daring nature of her mission. From the start, Stevens was driven by a vision to create a space where lesbian and queer women could see themselves reflected in media not merely as subjects of controversy, but as whole individuals.

Breaking Barriers and Building Community

Curve was revolutionary in its explicit inclusion of the word “lesbian” on the cover, a bold move that, despite internal and external criticism, declared a proud identity to the world. This was more than a magazine; it was a declaration of existence, a challenge to societal norms, and a beacon of hope for many who had felt invisible.

Netflix Ahead of the Curve
Netflix Ahead of the Curve

Navigating Challenges

The documentary “Ahead of the Curve” does not shy away from the challenges Stevens faced. The magazine’s journey was fraught with financial difficulties and societal backlash. A pivotal moment came when Melissa Etheridge, a well-known singer who had just come out as lesbian, appeared on its cover, signaling a turning point that brought mainstream attention and more advertisers.

Legal and Personal Battles

The film also delves into the legal challenges that arose when the French actress Catherine Deneuve sued the magazine for copyright infringement, forcing a name change to Curve. This period marked a significant stress point for Stevens, compounded later by severe health issues that ultimately led her to step away from the magazine she loved.

Legacy and Continuation

Despite these hurdles, Stevens’ influence persisted. “Ahead of the Curve” captures her continued advocacy and the shifting meanings of lesbian identity within the community. It also introduces The Curve Foundation, which Stevens established to ensure the continuation of the magazine’s mission by supporting lesbian and queer journalism.

Image: Netflix
Image: Netflix

The Ongoing Impact of ‘Ahead of the Curve’

The documentary not only revisits the history of Curve but also explores its enduring impact on individual lives and the broader cultural discourse. It is a testament to Franco Stevens’ resilience and the community that rallied around her vision, proving that even in the face of adversity, unity and representation can thrive.

In sum, “Ahead of the Curve” is more than a film; it’s a celebration of a movement and a reflection on the evolving challenges and triumphs of the lesbian and queer communities. It serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing work to maintain visibility and advocate for equality, capturing the essence of what it means to be truly ahead of the curve in the fight for justice and recognition.