Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (Organization)
Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (CL/LL), an Iowa City-based lesbian literary journal, was initiated by eight lesbians who were living in the Los Angeles area in the fall of 1980; a co-founder of Sinister Wisdom encouraged the women by stating that more lesbian journals were needed because Sinister Wisdom received more submissions than it could print. Cindy Cleary, Anne Lee, and Tracy Moore took the lead in organizing the journal following their move to Iowa City later that year. Moore had been a member of the collective that published Iowa City's feminist newsletter Ain't I a Woman? from 1971 to 1974, and the existence of both a press (Iowa City Women's Press) and a typesetter (Annie Graham) owned and operated by women made Iowa City an inviting home for the new journal. The first issue of Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was published in 1981. The purpose of Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was to 'document the experiences and thoughts of lesbians as we claim our past, name our present conditions, and envision our evolving future.' CL/LL published all forms of creative expression including poetry, fiction, essays, drawings, memoirs, letters, photographs, and cartoons. As a matter of policy, all work published in CL/LL was produced by self-defined lesbians. CL/LL was run by a volunteer collective that varied in size from three to eight women. In addition, a significant number of volunteers helped maintain the mailing and subscription list, put out the mailings, and solicited funds. Eventually a part-time staff person was hired to handle the mail and administrative matters. All the women who worked on CL/LL were lesbians. Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was published quarterly and reached a circulation of about 2500, including individual and institutional subscribers. CL/LL's main distributor, Inland, declared bankruptcy in 1995. Inland owed CL/LL $4,500 at the time, and this debt was never paid. CL/LL was not able to recover from this financial loss. 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.