Established in 2008, Lesbian Visibility Day is celebrated on April 26th with the goal of raising “awareness about the stereotypes, judgments, and lack of representation that lesbians face” (source). I will do my small part to celebrate the holiday by highlighting five of my favorite books starring lesbians.
It has been my experience that even in queer nerdy spaces, the majority of the focus tends to be on gay male relationships. Now, I have been (and always will be) a huge fan of Draco/Harry and Steve/Bucky, but it is very different to see Beau and Yasha go on a date in Critical Role. Seeing two women fight together and fall in love opens up a world of possibilities that simply didn’t exist when I was fingerling over two men doing the same. So in the interest of celebrating possibilities and women who love women, here are five of my favorite books with lesbian protagonists!
The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood
This fantasy novel has a lesbian assassin orc as its protagonist, and if that is your jam (like it is mine), then I literally don’t need to say anything else. However, I will. This is a book about choosing to live when the world wants to sacrifice you for other people’s good. Its pace is fast, the characters diverse and interesting, and the world creative. I cannot wait for the sequel (though there is no terrible cliffhanger at the end)!
Burning Roses by S. L. Huang
Combining Eastern and Western fairy tales, this novella stars two middle-aged lesbians who are not in love with each other! Rosa (Red Riding Hood) and Hou Yi pursue dangerous creatures and deal with the regrets of their past…which are not quite so far in the past as they may have hoped! If lesbians are poorly represented in media, middle-aged lesbians are even less so. I am desperate for more!
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
I remember reading an essay in Doyle’s first book, Carry On, Warrior, in which she tells her young children that she will love them wholeheartedly if they ever come out as gay. This was earth-shaking to my conservative Christian bubble, so imagine how delightful it was when Doyle herself came out as a lesbian in love with her wife Abby Wambach. This memoir captures the excitement and confusion of realizing your sexuality in adulthood and how that will reshape your already existing relationships (if you are lucky like her, they will wind up stronger and closer than ever). It’s a New York Times bestseller for a reason.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
This YA contemporary fiction has been widely well-received (and is nominated for a Lambda Literary award). It is a sweet novel about a closeted black lesbian teen who runs for prom queen in order to win the accompanying scholarship money. Although there is a geeks vs. popular girls dynamic, the focus is far more on the benefits of opening yourself up to friends from other social circles, and the delightful surprise of being accepted where you feared rejection.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
I’m saying nothing new here, but if you haven’t read The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth), drop everything and read them today! And if you have read them, do yourself a favor and read them again! Set in a sci-fi fantasy mystery of necromancers and magic, Gideon and Harrow are giant messes, yet I love them entirely! The world building is astonishingly well-developed, the plot relentless, and the characters utterly endearing (if that is the correct word for vicious, powerful, weird necromancers). If you’ve ever wanted to take a step toward goth lesbianism, this is where you should start.