First lesbian photo book in the US reprinted for the first time in 40 years
In 1979, JEB (Joan E. Biren) self-published her first book, Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians.
In a work that was revolutionary for its era, JEB made intimate photographs of lesbians from different ages and backgrounds in their everyday lives—working, playing, raising families, being in love and striving to remake their worlds.
Traveling across the US in the ’70s, she visited rural and urban communities, attended women’s conferences and music festivals, chronicled gay and lesbian pride marches, making photographs all along, creating a queer visual history.
Eye to Eye was the first known openly lesbian photography book of lesbians, by a lesbian, to be published in the US. In her original introduction to the book, historian Joan Nestle writes about how JEB’s portraits give “a visual record of our passage,” so that lesbians are now “a visually emerging people.”
The images were accompanied by writings from acclaimed authors including Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich. Because of the discrimination against lesbians at the time, it was a bold decision by the women pictured in the
book to agree to have their names printed and faces recognizable. Many also shared personal stories.
Eye to Eye signaled a radical new way of seeing—moving lesbian lives from the margins to the center, and reversing a history of invisibility.
The book met “an immense hunger for real images of lesbians’ life and identity” as JEB describes it, and even reached an audience beyond the US – she received poignant letters from women across the world sharing how her book had “touched the deepest place of [their] hopelessness.”
More than just a book, it was an affirmation of the existence of lesbians that helped to propel a political movement.
Pre-order on Amazon for 23rd March 2021 release.