Common Lives/Lesbian Lives

Sinister Wisdom is calling for submissions for a special issue exploring the quarterly Common Lives/Lesbian Lives.

Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was was a lesbian quarterly journal published between 1980 and 1996. Founded in Iowa City, Common Lives/Lesbian Lives was born in response to Sinister Wisdom’s call for more lesbian periodicals: too many lesbian voices were not being heard because of a lack of our own media.

The Mission of Common Lives/Lesbian Lives published in every issue

Common Lives/Lesbian Lives seeks to document the experiences and thoughts of lesbians as we claim our past, name our present conditions, and envision our evolving future. Common Lives/Lesbian Lives will reflect the complexity and richness of those experiences and thoughts by describing the lives of ordinary lesbians--women who have always struggled to survive and create a culture for ourselves. The magazine is a forum for developing and clarifying our lesbian-defined social and political relationships. Common Lives/Lesbian Lives is committed to reflecting the diversity among us by actively soliciting and printing in each issue the work and ideas of lesbians of color, Jewish lesbians, fat lesbians, lesbians over fifty and under twenty years old, physically challenged lesbians, poor and working-class lesbians, and lesbians of varying cultural backgrounds. CL/LL feels a strong responsibility to insure access to women whose lives have traditionally been denied visibility and to encourage lesbians who have never before thought of publishing to do so.

A core collective along with groups of volunteers published Common Lives/Lesbian Lives in Iowa City’s unique feminist publishing community, which included the early feminist newspaper Ain’t I A Woman, the printing collective Iowa City Women’s Press, the lesbian-run bindery A Fine Bind and typesetting by Annie Graham. Culturally, lesbians in Iowa City worked toward building ever-widening lesbian connections, sharing a passion for the integrity, diversity and richness of lesbian culture.

Today, 25 years since the last issue of CL/LL and 40 years since its first, Sinister Wisdom is planning a tribute issue to the magazine. Part of the issue will feature articles and visual art chosen from the historic CL/LL issues, accompanied by new work from collective members, volunteers, and contributors. Memory pieces, reflections, and much more welcome!

Call for Original Writing and Art
Another part of the Common Lives/Lesbian Lives tribute issue will feature writers and artists who respond to this call for original fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art.

Lesbians are invited to submit current, fresh and challenging work that may address....

o Is there a common life for lesbians today?
o How are intersecting identities important to lesbian culture? How has that changed over the last 40 years? How do we create more space for intersecting identities?
o What does collective lesbian work look like today?
o What is the impact of CL/LL on today’s lesbian community?

We are open to all ideas for this issue and want to see what you come up with… be creative!

Submit to Sinister Wisdom

Check out our Common Lives / Lesbian Lives resources and Common Lives / Lesbian Lives’s archive for more information and inspiration. (,

Deadline for submissions: March 31, 2022
Any questions can be sent to

"Empowerment comes from ideas."

Gloria Anzaldúa

“And the metaphorical lenses we choose are crucial, having the power to magnify, create better focus, and correct our vision.”
― Charlene Carruthers

"Your silence will not protect you."

Audre Lorde

“It’s revolutionary to connect with love”
— Tourmaline

"Gender is the poetry each of us makes out of the language we are taught."

― Leslie Feinberg

“The problem with the use of language of Revolution without praxis is that it promises to change everything while keeping everything the same. “
— Leila Raven