“The L Life” aims to make household names of lesbians


The L Life kind of fell into Erin McHugh’s lap. The author of the book, which comes out today, was having lunch (“a sandwich,” specifically) with the President of Abrams Books when he asked her, “Would you like to do a lesbian book for us?”

“And I said, ‘Yes!’” McHugh said. “It was completely out of the blue and he said ‘What would it be about?’ and I had no clue. I said, ‘Let me finish my sandwich and I’ll go home and think.’”

And what came out of that conversation was The L Life, a coffee-table book with original portrait photography and interview profiles of famous modern day lesbians.

Comic artist Alison Bechdel

“It didn’t take long to figure out what I wanted to present,” McHugh said. “As always, we feel like invisible people since we’re a minority and almost right away it became this funny sisterhood with the first people I had, like Kate Clinton. And Kate said, ‘Well you can’t do this book without Kate Kendell who was already on my long list, although I didn’t know her.’”

Comedian Kate Clinton

The lesbian phone tree worked its magic for McHugh and photographer Jennifer May, who worked for more than a year to coordinate who and where and when they’d be meeting with to feature in the book. The L Life is 160 pages of insight into each individual woman’s life, and the women in it are from all over the country. From household names like Jane Lynch to politicians and activists like Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Hon. Christine Quinn, the stories they tell are about realizing they were gay, coming out, living out in high-profile positions and moving through life as successful lesbians


“I think I just tried to focus on ‘look these women are lesbians, but let’s focus on who they are in this world,'” McHugh said. “Not, ‘Well here are the greatest lesbians we know of in captivity.’”

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