Learning from Gay and Lesbian Pulps
The pulps were cheaply produced novels made to be sold at news stands, bus stations and drugstores — places where readers could make quick, anonymous purchases without being exposed by their choice of reading matter. The covers were intentionally lurid, designed to telegraph their contents quickly. Though published for both lesbians and gay men, more lesbian-themed novels were produced than their gay male counterparts, perhaps because lesbian books were also purchased by heterosexual men. The contents of the pulps varied widely, from serious literary works to carelessly-penned trash; many portrayed homosexuality in a provocative, sensational light, confirming negative stereotypes. While the novels were in general purchased for their arousing qualities, they also served a serious purpose. For many closeted lesbians and gay men, especially those living in remote areas outside of the major cities of the US, they represented the only link to a community about which the readers could only fantasize and dream.