Editor's Note: Rebecca Wininger is a member of the LGBT community in Phoenix, Arizona. She is an independent business consultant and volunteers with many worthwhile organizations who are committed to equality for all. Rebecca lives with her two Golden Retrievers and spends her free time working on film projects and writing.
We are often disappointed when we meet our heroes, those who we admire from afar. We envision in our minds how the encounter will take place. And rarely does it happen the way we dream.
The Gold Coast Literary Society recently descended upon Phoenix for their annual conference. The best and brightest of lesbian authors and literary advisors roamed the halls. The likes of Ellen Hart, Jane Fletcher, Karin Kallmaker, Fay Jacobs, Georgia Beers, Lori Lake, Lee Lynch and many other published authors greeted fans, autographed books, mentored up-and-coming writers, and presented workshops.
And then there was the woman who is revered throughout the community for scripting Curious Wine 25 years ago. The woman who has unarguably written the greatest lesbian romance novel of all time. The woman who gave me hope. The woman who gave me courage. The woman who told me that I wasn't alone as I struggled to come out of my own closet in the mid-1980's. Katherine V. Forrest.
I had the opportunity to spend some quiet time with Katherine for a radio interview for Equality Arizona. Her peers describe her as gracious, creative, inspiring, crusading, dignified, unwaveringly supportive, gentle, and soft-spoken. But I have heard generous comments like this before about well-known persons and have come away disenchanted by my experience.
We meet in her suite, away from the bustle and noise of the conference. She shakes my hand considerately and apologizes once again for missing an earlier interview. "Blame it on senility," she smiles.
We talk about Curious Wine and her early writing endeavors. "I had no idea that the book would be selling as well today as it did in 1983 when it first came out."
We talk about writing styles and inspirational ideas. "I didn't find any book that conveyed the passion and the beauty of our love and how beautiful women are together. So, I wrote the book that I wanted to read" referencing Curious Wine once again.
My radio show producer Meta Goforth-Zinn tells Katherine that in her writings "...lesbian just seems ordinary. That it's not shocking...it's not written so that you go (gasp) when you read it. But the words that you choose and the way that you describe things is so delicious, that it's such a fantastic picture, but written truthfully".
"That's very lovely. Thank you. Thank you very much. That's just an enormous compliment," Katherine responds graciously.
I try to choke out what kind of an impact Curious Wine had for me, as I came out so many years ago - that it made me realize I wasn't alone. "I'm really glad you said that and that you put it that way. Those are almost the exact words that I use about Ann Bannon's books...she told us that we were not alone. They led us to find each other. And once we found each other, our civil rights movement was born."
It's growing late, our questions spent, and our time is up. Katherine walks us out to the lobby where her dinner companions are waiting. I thank her for our time together and for the interview. She thanks us as well. We shake hands again and go our separate ways into the evening.
I walk away once again disappointed after meeting one of my heroes. Disappointed that we didn't have more time to spend together chatting about baseball games, Half-Moon Bay, and cats. Disappointed that my dream and vision of meeting Katherine Forrest hadn't been as extraordinary and special as the real thing.