Lesbians On The Loose
Directors: Steph Jowett and Tilly Robba
Australia, 2022, 14 min
Crew:Writers: Steph Jowett, Tilly Robba. Producer: Kristina Wong Foster.
This documentary chronicles the origins of Lesbians on the Loose (LOTL), a free lesbian magazine started in 1989 as a grassroots 8 page black & white newsletter that became Australia’s longest-lived Lesbian magazine.
During the 1990s a key shift occurred in Australian gay publishing with the rapid expansion of free city-based newspapers which coincided with the growth of a visibly more diverse gay and lesbian community. After decades of gay bashings, AIDs, and secrecy from homosexuality being illegal; by the end of the 1980s, the queer community was bursting at the seams to be able to express themselves in their whole entirety.
At this time Frances Rand and Jackie Scherer enjoyed going to Sydney’s lesbian bars in the late 1980s, but relied on word of mouth to hear about social events or new venues. They started Lesbians on the Loose to provide a regular source of information about these events, and as a result contributed to the community’s growth and allowed movement of ideas and information to reach and influence a much wider audience.
Jackie left soon after issue one with Frances joined by Barb Farrelly in 1994. The magazine grew rapidly, as well as the love they had for each other. The dynamic couple was a force in their own right who magnified and initiated change by strengthening the magazine through investigative news; soon finding mainstream media following their stories; helping normalize homosexuality.
From stories of the hardships faced by Muslim lesbians to famous people coming out. From articles on anti-discrimination law changes to personal classified sections that allowed lesbians to meet each other; the magazine covered many diverse stories developing into the lesbian community’s journal of records.
About the directors
Steph Jowett - Tilly Robba & Steph Jowett work creative direction, design and production. They pride themselves on an uncompromising aesthetic & a highly authored story.
In 2020, they created the animation series Single with development support from Screen Australia. The first short film Winona which they had written, directed and produced premiered at Palms Springs International ShortFest in 2021. They have creative directed and produced a number of music videos for Australian Artists (Alfie Arcuri, BVT, ASTON)
They recently completed a film about the history of Dykes on Bikes.
Tilly Robba -