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Common Lives/Lesbian Lives

Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (CL/LL) was a collectively produced lesbian quarterly which published out of Iowa City, Iowa, from 1981-1996.[1] The magazine had a stated commitment to reflect the diversity of lesbians by actively soliciting and printing in each issue the work and ideas of lesbians of color, Jewish lesbians, fat lesbians, lesbians over fifty and under twenty years old, disabled lesbians, poor and working-class lesbians, and lesbians of varying cultural backgrounds. Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was a cultural milestone in the lesbian publishing world, as it was one of the first lesbian journal or magazine published from outside of the urban/coastal New York/Los Angeles/Berkley scene.[2]

Common Lives/Lesbian Lives
Common Lives Lesbian Lives number 48.jpg
First issue1980
Final issue1996
Based inIowa City, Iowa
OCLC number8234014



CL/LL was initiated by eight lesbians who were living in the Los Angeles area in late 1980; Catherine Nicholson and Harriet Desmoines, co-founders of periodical Sinister Wisdom encouraged the women by stating that more lesbian journals were needed because Sinister Wisdom received more submissions than it could print.[3]:15 Cindy Cleary, Anne Lee, and Tracy Moore (Moore had been involved in the collective that published Iowa City’s feminist newsletter Ain’t I a Woman? from 1971–1974) formed the core group of the journal, and all worked on the magazine after their move to Iowa City later that year.[2][3]:15-16

The existence of the Iowa City Women’s Press and a typesetting firm owned and operated by women made Iowa City an inviting home for the new journal.[2]

The first issue of Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was published in 1981, and the journal eventually reached a peak circulation of about 2500 national and international subscribers.[3]:15 When the journal's main distributor, Inland, declared bankruptcy in 1995, CL/LL was no longer able to continue publication.[2]


The publishing collective wanted the magazine to be "inclusive, non-academic, diverse and accessible"[3]:15 Most contributors had never been published before.[3]:22

All work published in CL/LL was produced by self-defined lesbians, and all of the project's volunteers were lesbians.[2] Due to this policy, a complaint was filed with the University of Iowa Human Rights Commission by a heterosexual woman who believed she was discriminated against when not hired to be an intern.[2] A complaint was also lodged with the collective by a bisexual woman whose submission to the magazine was not published.[2]

The University of Iowa printing department refused to print Issue 20 (1982) because it contained photographs of lesbians making love, and the magazine sued the University and won.[2]

The 1995 fall issue was not published, and eventually Issue 56, which was to be the last, was published as the 1995-1996 issue. Despite efforts to raise money, Common Lives/Lesbian Lives officially closed in 1997.[2]


The Iowa Women's Archives in the University of Iowa Libraries now hosts Cl/LL archival material.

The Lavender Library, Archives and Cultural Exchange in Sacramento, California holds a substantial collection of the magazines.[4][citation needed]


Some of the contributors to the magazine include: Elana Dykewomon, Tee Corinne, Sapphire,[5] Hawk Madrone, Julia Penelope, Candis Graham, Martha Miller, and Ruth Mountaingrove,

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Barnett, Meg; Killgore, Vicky; Ferentinos, Susan (1997). "A Timeline of 1970's Austin Lesbian-Gay Activism: 1968 to 1983". Austin Lesbian Activism in the 1970s Herstory Project. Archived from the original on 18 August 2000.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Common Lives/Lesbian Lives". Iowa Women's Archives - University of Iowa Libraries. 2005. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Moore, Tracy. A Decade of Common Dyke Publishing, in Common Lives/Lesbian Lives, Issue 40, Fall 1991
  4. ^ Holdings: no. 1 (fall 1981), no. 2 (winter 1981), no. 3 (spring 1982), no. 4 (summer 1982), no. 5 (fall 1982), no. 6 (winter 1982), no. 7 (spring 1983), no. 8 (summer 1983), no. 9 (fall 1983), no. 10 (winter 1983), no. 11 (spring 1984), no. 12 (summer 1984), no. 13 (autumn 1984), no. 14 (winter 1984), no. 15-16 (summer 1985), no. 17 (fall 1985), no. 18 (winter 1985), no. 19 (spring 1986), no. 20 (summer 1986), no. 21 (winter 1987), no. 22 (spring 1987), no. 23 (summer 1987), no. 24 (fall 1987), no. 25 (winter 1988), no. 26 (spring 1988), no. 27 (summer 1988), no. 28 (fall 1988), no. 29 (winter 1989), no. 30 (spring 1989), no. 31 (summer 1989), no. 32 (fall 1989), no. 33 (winter 1989), no. 34 (spring 1990), no. 35 (summer 1990), no. 38 (spring 1991), no. 39 (summer 1991), no. 40 (fall 1991), no. 42 (summer 1992), no. 44 (fall 1992), no. 46 (spring 1993), no. 47 (summer 1993), no. 48 (fall 1993), no. 49 (winter 1993), no. 50 (spring 1994), no. 51 (summer 1994), no. 52 (fall 1994), no. 54 (spring 1995), no. 55 (summer 1995) Lavender Library, Archives and Cultural Exchange
  5. ^ Steven Reigns (February 2007). "An Annotated Bibliography on the Works of Sapphire" (PDF). Department of English, ASU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-22.

External linksEdit