I stumbled into a neat antiques store here in Purple-state America, with a selection of pulp fiction, men's "physique" magazines from the 1950s, and lesbian pulp fiction.
Back before Stonewall, pulp novels were the way that many a lesbian learned that she was not the only person in the world who felt "that way", that we had a name, places where we congregated, and (in most pulps) a violent death as the wages of sin. Though most lesbian pulps from the 50s and 60s were exploitative and voyeuristic, some were written by working-class lesbians (Ann Bannon and Vin Packer, I heart you) who could have never been published in that era by any "real" publisher. Pulps were a way for lesbians to communicate, learn, and validate their own existence.
Which is why I've begun collecting pulps -- as proof that we existed in, and survived, rougher times than this. Here's the back cover text from my new acquisition, "I Am a Lesbian", publ. 1958:
Stories relating to lesbianism are very numerous today. This is surely proof that people are interested in the subject and its treatment. Lesbians are a part of our society and they will very likely remain so. In this book Lora Sela does not write that its characters have *tendencies*; instead they are *real* lesbians whose hearts are as warm and deserving of understanding as any other segment of our human life.