Two women embrace in 1950s-style living room, in style of pulp fiction book cover.

Pride Project #9 – Loraine Barr

Two women embrace in 1950s-style living room, in style of pulp fiction book cover
Two women embrace in 1950s-style living room, in style of pulp fiction book cover.
Loraine Barr and Mary Piercy, Mixed media on board, 4″ x 5″

In 2007, a woman named Loraine mailed a letter. She had walked to the mailbox several times, but retreated home each time before she was finally able to drop it in the box and walk away. The letter went on its way and was eventually published in Newsweek magazine to a national audience.

The letter, which Loraine had written herself, described her closeted life as a lesbian, beginning as a teenager in the 1930s: a struggle to understand herself, frustrated male suitors, a secret affair. She told of meeting the love of her life, but keeping that love a secret from everyone close to them. She also announced herself as a lesbian, to the great wide world for the first time ever. Loraine was 88 years old.

The publication of that letter led to a documentary being made about Loraine’s life. I read the letter, couldn’t get it out of my head, and wrote my own letter to Loraine. We eventually became pen pals and she shared her first draft as well as more information about her great love, Mary, “the most loved and loving partner imaginable.” I felt very privileged to be let into this utterly personal space. Let’s celebrate Loraine’s bravery and sense of bravery – happy Pride!

1 thought on “Pride Project #9 – Loraine Barr”

  1. Philip Adam Smith

    Loraine Barr was my first cousin by the adoption of my father, Larry Smith by Glady’s Smith. Loraine was my favourite relative, there was no close second. She was a brilliant woman who loved life. I never heard her be negative, she always found the positive in everything. She was a great listener and hugh support to me as I pursued a life working in the arts. When I experienced doubt she was always there to say, “you can always get a normal job, follow your passion.” Everyone should be lucky enough to have a cousin Loraine! And a Mary too!

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