“Piece of My Heart” has a different kind of pregnant lesbian storyline

I remember a classmate in high school who had to go to “the home for unwed mothers.” I was a naïve Baptist kid and didn’t understand all of the implications of her departure — I only knew that she had sex and got pregnant, just like the adults told us would happen. She was not a “nice girl.”

Piece of My Heart, a TV movie from New Zealand, tells the story of Flora and Kat, two women who experienced the disgrace of being young, unmarried and pregnant in the ’60s. (Thanks to JetGrrl for the tip.) Despite their close friendship at the home, the two haven’t seen each other since they gave birth in 1968.

Flora (Annie Whittle) is now married with two grown sons — and has never told anyone about her pregnancy.

But when she decides to contact the daughter she gave up for adoption and is rejected, she runs away to find the one person she thinks will understand: Kat (Rena Owen).

Kat, however, lives a very different life than Flora. She is a single nurse and has just brought home Ani, a pregnant teenage runaway.

From Ani, Flora learns that Kat also happens to be a lesbian:

Ani: Are you a lezzo?

Flora: What?

Ani: Well she is.

Flora: Kat?

Ani: Is she your girlfriend?

Flora: I’m a friend. Not that kind of friend.

Ani: Can you cook?

That exchange sets the stage for the kind of non-issue that Kat’s lesbianism is in Piece of My Heart. After Flora cooks breakfast for Ani, Kat steals a sausage from Ani’s plate. Ani responds, “Didn’t think you’d be into sausage. Thought you’d be more into fish.”

In flashbacks to Flora and Kat’s time in the home, we are privy to a conversation in which the girls (played by Emily Barclay and Keisha Castle-Hughes) reveal very different takes on the experience that got them pregnant.

Kat: Not all it’s cracked up to be, eh? The old in — out?

Flora: I liked it.

Kat: Yeah? I thought “Gee, I won’t be doing this again in a hurry.” And look, I was right!

Both Barclay and Castle-Hughes won acting awards for their roles in Piece of My Heart.

JetGrrl also called our attention to another lesbian connection in the film. The daughter Flora gave up is Tandi Wright, who played Caroline Buxton on popular NZ soap Shortland Street. Caroline, you may remember, called off her marriage to run away with her bridesmaid.

Sounds like Piece of My Heart deserves a place in my Netflix queue. Has anyone seen it? What did you think?

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