Jean Copeland is a high school English teacher who received her M.S. in English-Creative Writing from Southern Connecticut State University. Her fiction and personal essays have appeared in T/OUR Magazine, Sharkreef.org, Connecticut Review, Texas Told ‘Em, P.S. What I Didn’t Say, Off the Rocks, Best Lesbian Love Stories, Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly, The First Line, and Prickofthespindle.com. She also wrote an essay that will appear in the essay collection, A Family by Any Other Name, in early 2014.
Jean, this opening chapter of The Revelation of Beatrice Darby finds Beatrice awakening to her own sexuality and attraction to women through her impulsive interest in a dimestore novel about a lesbian romance. Beatrice is a churchgoing girl and this is 1957, in a quaint pharmacy and soda fountain, during a time when “good” girls dated “nice” boys, soon got married, and primarily worked in the kitchen and took care of the kids. Without a doubt, her budding revelation will have consequences on many levels. What inspired you to set the story in this period rather than a more contemporary one?
I’ve had an affinity for that period since discovering my first Doris Day and Rock Hudson film on cable as a teen. But as I researched the social history of the LGBT movement for a class I was going to teach, I was fascinated and humbled by the paradox of that era regarding homosexuals: Life was wholesome and wonderful for “normal” Americans but oppressive and dangerous for anyone brave enough to be out and proud. I could explore that precarious life from the safety of my protagonist, Beatrice Darby.