Where are the Lesbians Between the Pages?

26 Mar

In the waning era (Hallelujah/hopefully) of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, my inner-lesbian-spirit has been indefinitely vomiting all over the place.  As I wrote in an earlier entry (Read Here), all of my friends are hot blooded heterosexual women and some of them have read and even thoroughly enjoyed reading these series of… novels?  Imagine myself as I sit trying to comprehend the appeal and want to find a charming, dominating, heroic, type of man.  I can’t, because I don’t want that obviously.  Not all heterosexual women want that either of course.  What I’m gathering at is that in 2013, it is like searching for a needle in a haystack trying to find any inkling of a lesbian romance in a novel.  In fact, finding a lesbian romance between women over the age of 17 seems to be a made up concept not available on mainstream bookstore shelves.  Although, some material may be available in smaller, more independent book stores.  Or maybe a feminist book store like Women & Women First.

If you don’t watch Portlandia then you probably have no clue about this. You should watch this show though because it’s hilarious.

The first time I sought out a story that my lesbian spirit could relate to, I thought Barnes & Noble would be a great place to start because they seem to have everything and if they don’t they can find it for you.  I eagerly walked in and headed straight to the desk where I asked the attendant where I could find the LGBT section in the store.  He then proceded to tell me that they were in the process of eliminating that section because people have been arguing that segregating the books into their own category is not conducive to progression… Or something like that.  Basically, treating the books as something different than other books is not ideal.  Personally, I’m okay with the section because it makes it easier for me to find the things I want!  Nonetheless, there was one book case that had a shelf labeled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered” nestled between I believe African American and some other marginalized culture.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find half a shelf of material for me to pick from.  None of the choices were fiction, and there was some erotica, personal accounts, and short stories.  The book I was looking for was located in the Young Adult section, which makes sense but I was hoping to find more than what I did.  I’ve read two books so far that explore young girls discovering their sexuality while unsuspectedly falling in love with another girl.

I think both books are proficient in describing the pain, fear, and sometimes denial from loved ones, that comes with acknowledging one’s sexuality for the first time.  I completed  Annie on my Mind today.  While the book’s 1982 publishing date is a bit dated, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Liza and Annie.  It’s nice to get a perspective of obstacles faced by the LGBT community growing up in a time before the Internet and explosion of user created content.  Your information either came from small entries in Encyclopedias, or if you were brave enough, you checked out books about homosexuality in the library.  Keeping You a Secret was published in 2003 and does a better job illustrating a more modern day homophobia.  The type where people have the opportunity to be appropriately informed about homosexuality, but choose to remain ignorant about it.

2003 was a decade ago and I think it’s time for more romance plots to be between two girls (or women).  There’s been a clear increase of lesbian visibility on television so I’m hopeful there will be a change in the literature department soon.  Obviously this will require more lesbian authors to emerge or those willing to attack such a controversial subject with accuracy and passion (also publishers and whatever else comes with publishing).  I know there is an infinite number of lesbian short stories and fan fiction available online, but it’s not the same as holding a physical book in hand, knowing that someone thought your story was important enough to print and publish to the world.  Young girls struggling with their sexuality deserve to see themselves in the books they read.  If anything, they deserve to escape to a world where they can feel comfortable and safe inside the pages of a book.  If I don’t see anything soon maybe I should try writing something like my story.

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3 Responses to “Where are the Lesbians Between the Pages?”

  1. Sapphicscientist March 26, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    A very apt article. I feel the same. I do see lots of reference to lesbian romance novels in lesbian magazines such as Diva and Curve, but there certainly is lack of physical books on shelves. I work at a large university in Australia and I was surprised not to find a LGBTQI section in the bookshop (which has a selection of movie, music and fashion books and of course novels). Well I think all us lesbian writers/aspiring writers should get out writing hats on. I’ve been waiting to hear that there is a lesbian spin on Fifty Shades of Grey, but of course with a sense of equality and no patriarchal dominance.

  2. Danika @ The Lesbrary March 29, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    There are tons of lesbian books available online, but you’re right, mainstream bookstores don’t usually have a lot. You have to know what to look for, like seeking out Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson, Emma Donoghue. You can’t really go in and browse and find a lesbian book. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, there are tons of great books out there. My website, The Lesbrary, is a lesbian book blog that reviews lesbian books and links to other lesbian lit happenings, so in my humble opinion, it’s a good place to start.

  3. memaram May 24, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Hi — I like what you said above. It’s so true. But do you know what is equally annoying? It’s finding the Lesbian lierature all about sex/lust, domination, S&M..etc. If that was the case, that what would it matter if one would have it with a man, a dildo or even an animal. No offence. But everytime I try to read a book, I get the message from the cover picture where one woman is waiting for the other with a wip.
    Movie do a better thing, to an extent. I just we they were mor eserious, women there were more faithful and they movies have a happy ending.

    —- Thank you for you time reading my post.
    —- would you kindly say if ou agree. I am new here and from a part of the world where homosexually us punished (not just frowned upon).
    —- one last thing, would you help me in my advice equest on my page.

    Love, peace and freedom.

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