Sharon Gless loves being Free


I love the tagline for Hannah Free: “A film about a lifelong love affair between an independent spirit and the woman she calls home.”

How perfect is that? I don’t even have to see the movie to get teary-eyed.

In the film, Hannah (Sharon Gless) and Rachel (Maureen Gallagher) are two women who face the conflict between small-town values and their relationship.

According to the movie’s website:

Hannah and Rachel grew up as little girls in the same small Midwest town, where traditional gender expectations eventually challenge their deep love for one another. Hannah becomes an adventurous, unapologetic lesbian and Rachel a strong but quiet homemaker. Weaving back and forth between past and present, the film reveals how the women maintained their love affair despite a marriage, a world war, infidelities, and family denial.

Here’s the trailer. (If you get a request for your age at the beginning and don’t want to see a scary ad for Saw, just click “cancel.”)


Karman posted highlights of a Women & Hollywood interview with out director Wendy Jo Carlton earlier this year.

Director Wendy Jo Carlton and Sharon Gless on the set of Hannah Free


And last week, when Hannah Free premiered in Beverly Hills, interviewed Sharon Gless about being a lesbian icon and finally playing a lesbian onscreen. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.

On realizing she was a lesbian icon:

I got an award a couple of months ago (from QFest) for being the lesbian icon of the year and I think that’s the first time that someone actually said that to me. It wasn’t anything that I was aware of; I’ve just had an amazing lesbian following since Cagney & Lacey. Thank God; they kept me on the air… I never thought I was old enough to be an icon (laughs).

On Cagney & Lacey’s lesbian audience:

The lesbians were specifically attracted to Cagney and it was a really large part of our audience. Everyone used to ask me if I was gay; reporters, they said, “We understand that you’re gay.” And I’d say, “I’m not but I’m very tempted. I think the gays have more fun than I do!” [The lesbian community] was a large part of our audience and they kept it on the air for six years; that’s something for which I will always be grateful.

Neither of us really were lesbians on the show, but I think it’s fun that the lesbian crowd believed that Cagney was and is. I just loved that there was something there that they saw that they could relate to.

I saw on YouTube that they took a lot of Cagney & Lacey themes and put it to music to indicate that Cagney really was in love with Mary Beth. It looked like a genius piece of film and if you put it together the way they did, you’d say, “Oh yeah, who’s she kidding, of course she was.” I kept it. It was wonderful.

On being in Hannah Free:

It was a real honor to play this, especially for [writer] Claudia [Allen]. We did it in 18 days, for $200,000; 30 percent of the crew worked for nothing. The lesbian community just rallied in Chicago and came and put this film together. I had the time of my life. I loved it, I love the play that it’s getting. … It was my first time playing a lesbian role. Actually, that’s a lie! The day before we started Hannah Free, I did an Ed Harris movie — only two days work on it and all my scenes were with Amy Madigan — and I played a lesbian in a wheelchair. Isn’t that funny!

On how she is like Hannah:

Well, I’m pretty independent. … I don’t know, I think I have a silent strength to me. Hannah was way ahead of her time in terms of courage. Obviously the woman she loved, the woman she called home — that being Rachel — did not have that courage and had to lie about who she was. And Hannah had no shame about who she was.

Sharon Gless and Maureen Gallagher


On how the LGBT community can ensure the rights of its elders:

Let it be known, fight for your rights. I make phone calls, I fight for you guys after Prop 8. You just have to keep fighting and eventually you’ll win. I’m a fifth generation Californian and for the first time in my life I’m ashamed of my state. I’m embarrassed that my state is so stupid. I always thought that California was a very cool state and we’re not. It’ll change though. The first go-around with the Mormons coming in from Utah and pouring in the money into it, what in the f–k do they care about what we do here in California?! Don’t get me started!

Be sure and read the rest of the interview — it proves once again that we have great taste in icons. Hannah Free will show at several LGBT film festivals in November and December; its official U.S. release date is Dec. 11.

Has anyone seen Hannah Free yet? Is it as great as it sounds? Will you be in the audience when it comes to your part of the world?

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