Natasha Lyonne | But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
I was really tempted to ignore this because I don’t believe in giving anon wangs a platform, but the term “unnecessary lesbianism” made me laugh so hard that I caved.
Authors can write good books and make statements. I’m going to make some statements now. (Get ready.)
Queer people and queer relationships aren’t less necessary to narrative than cishet people or relationships. In fact, given the lovely emails and messages I’ve received about Tamar and Nadia (and given the existence of anon wangs like you), I’d say making queer relationships visible in young adult fiction is an excellent—and yes, necessary—idea.
I do agree that story trumps statement or we’d all just write angry pamphlets, but queer people exist both in my world and the world of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t see how including them in my work is making a statement unless that statement is “I won’t willfully ignore or exclude people in order to make a few anon wangs happy.” If that’s the statement I’m making, I’m totally down with it.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to shout out Malinda Lo, Laura Lam, Alex London, David Levithan, Emily Danforth, Emma Trevayne, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Clare, and to link to Malinda’s 2013 guide to LGBT in YA. Because why just give attention to bigots when you can talk about awesome books and authors instead?
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall. 1928. The mother of all lesbian classics. The story of Stephen Gordon and her “sexual inversion.” So ground-breaking that, due to its lesbian subject matter, it was banned upon its initial publication. I haven’t read it; it’s supposed to be a downer, but some people like it; a period piece for sure.
We Too Are Drifting by Gale Wilhelm. 1935. Subtitled “The Story of a Lesbian,” shocking in its time. FWIW, the blurb on the period cover says “Better than The Well of Loneliness." I read this a long time ago and vaguely remember being disappointed, but again, it’s a classic and YMMV.
The Friendly Young Ladies by Mary Renault. 1944. A witty romantic comedy of the bohemian set in 1930s England, reportedly written as a response to The Well of Loneliness and therefore may be best appreciated in that context. I haven’t read it; it’s supposed to be good.
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (aka Claire Morgan). 1952. Ahead of its time, this novel tells the story of a love affair between two women in the 1950s. This book was a powerfully formative one for me, and I have revisited it multiple times over the years. Recommended.
Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule. 1964. Later made into the movie Desert Hearts, about a love affair between two women in the late ’50s. Not action-packed, but thoughtful, well written, and a landmark in its time. Other lesbian-themed books by this author include This Is Not For You and After The Fire.
Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller. 1972. A major classic. In this historical novel set in 1830s New England, two women defy their families and their community to make a life for themselves. I remember liking this one a lot.
May Sarton (1912-1995). A lesbian writer, perhaps better known for her poetry and journals, she published several fiction titles as well (not all lesbian-themed). I tried reading her once or twice and Did Not Like; however, lots of people swear by her, so there she is.
i feel like reading fanfic has kind of broken my desire to read published stories bc like theyre so bland tbh like. where the hell am i gonna get queer android romance in a bookstore. who writes about past assassins working together in a coffeeshop. all i see are straight white people making out like really like REALLY
Well, now I’m determined to find some queer android romance. I know The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson has a lesbian robot/human couple. The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld is supposed to have a queer cyborg/human romance. Cathy IV by Frances Lucas is also supposed to have a robot/human lesbian romance.
There has to be more! Does anyone else know of any?
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) directed by Abdellatif Kekiche