by Sophie Gertrude Storhmeier
Sophie Gertrude Strohmeier is a bilingual writer and translator of fiction and nonfiction. Her long-lost love, however, is illustration. She received her BA in Romance Studies from the University of Vienna, and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Alabama. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Sophie is the author of the surrealist Lesbian novel “Küss Mich, Libussa” (edition a, 2013, in German). She lives in Brooklyn.
Gay and Lesbian Studies is a smutty, indulgent escape into lesbian cinephile culture housed in a millimeter binding. In the central text, an unnamed instructor of creative writing explores the tension between her fetish for the coded eroticism of the lesbian film canon and her out and proud existence. As she recounts her relationship with Nikki, a student writer
unwittingly engaging in the language of lesbian pulp in her class assignments, her interactions are never inappropriate and yet, colorful foldouts of erotic scenes allude to her real, active sexuality. In the margins, we become privy to the narrator’s references and how representations of lesbianism in art guide her interpretations of the world around her.
Gay and Lesbian Studies was developed as a collaboration between Sophie Gertrude Strohmeier, the author of the short story that serves as the backbone of the book’s text and the illustrator of the images adorning it, and Two Trick Pony Press and Bindery who orchestrated the combination of the elements, edited and prompted an expansion of the hypotext, then designed, printed, and bound the book.
As a book object, Gay and Lesbian Studies is simultaneously loud and familar, feminine and unapologetic. The letterpress printed cover paper hides a lesbian liason in a traditional pattern, while bits of lime goatskin peek out at head and tail, capturing the central tension of the text within: the allure of secretive sexuality vs a fully out existence enabled by the burgeoning acceptance of LGBTQIA+ identities. The traditional typesetting of the text is interrupted by colorful, erotic images, all letterpress printed, that feature whimsical touches — a cat! Snails! — and a texture created with the imprint of fishnet stockings. The size of the book, roughly 6.5” by 10” closed, is just large enough to block out the rest of the world as you bury your nose in its pages.
Gay and Lesbian Studies is a titillating reverie, an instructional resource on the lesbian canon, and a declaration of sex
positivity. It challenges the reader to entertain the idea of a female gaze, of erotic art made by and for women. It claims space on the shelf for the femme, and challenges you to acknowledge it.