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Jean Roberta

Jean Roberta is old enough to remember the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1980s.  Born in California and raised in the Idaho desert, she immigrated to Canada with her parents and younger sisters in 1967. In her last year of high school in Saskatchewan, she won $500 (Canadian, but still big bucks at the time) for a short story she entered in a national student writing contest, and began dreaming of a Literary Career.  Her first year in a venerable university in Ontario was cut short by a rape, a suicide attempt and a psychiatric diagnosis.  Back in Saskatchewan, she was hired by a small public relations firm and discovered the joy of writing book reviews and interviewing interesting people.  Eventually, she acquired a degree in English from the local university, spent a year in England with her family, married a refugee from the Nigerian Civil War, had a daughter, and escaped from the civil war of her marriage in 1978.

Jean survived as a call girl in the early 1980s, "came out" as a lesbian and spent a purgatorial decade living in poverty, serving terms of office in a parent-run day care center, a single-parent housing co-op, a fledgling lesbian group and the elected board which still runs the local queer bar.  Her first book, a collection of lesbian stories named Secrets of the Invisible World, was published in 1988 to a short burst of acclaim, but by 1990 it was out of print because the one-woman publisher had gone out of business.  Throughout the 1980s, she wrote reviews and articles for various publications, mostly local and obscure; she was stunned when the American editor of Feminist Bookstore News praised her article on lesbian publishing in Gay and Lesbian Studies Newsletter (produced by the Modern Languages Association) and an eastern Canadian journalist recommended Briarpatch magazine (a local leftist journal) in an article which praised Jean and another contributor.  In Saskatchewan, her reputation was still dubious.

In 1989, Jean received her Master's degree, and was hired as an instructor of mandatory first-year English courses by the local university in 1991.  In 1998, she joined the Erotic Readers Association (as then named), and in 1999, her first erotic story was published in an anthology.  In that year, her teaching salary was raised to a living wage, thanks to a persistent academic union.  Since 2000, she has had stories in several volumes of Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Women's Erotica (Cleis Press), two Wicked Words anthologies from Black Lace in England, and numerous other anthologies.  She has rediscovered the joy of reviewing, and writes regular reviews for The Dominant's View, Technodyke and print journal Batteries Not Included; her reviews also appear elsewhere.

Jean and her Latina partner of almost 15 years both sing in the local GALA (queer) choir and attend GALA choir festivals in other cities.  They have raised three children together and are now enjoying their "empty nest," a house built in 1914 which is largely paid for by the salary from Jean's now-permanent teaching job. It features a guest room for visitors.

Email: Jean Roberta

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