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.
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.