8 Books for Lesbian Day of Visibility
As we all know, lesbians are only visible one day a year, so check out these gay and captivating books while you can
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When I came out as a lesbian at nineteen, I had never kissed a girl. My only representation was pirated streams of movies and shows like Carol, The L Word, and the uber-popular Orange is The New Black. In these (mostly mediocre) forms of media, I envisioned my future, filled with a large sapphic friend group and love that would hopefully transcend the cheating, violence, and death that followed every fictional lesbian.
Now, only five years later, I am in awe of the beauty and creativity that stems from the lesbian community. Being a lesbian has been an overwhelmingly rewarding and fruitful experience that I’ve shared with such diverse and incredible people from varying cultures and with differing relationships to their gender.
Lesbians, bisexual women, and queer women share so much experience and history, and I’m grateful to be living in a time where we can support each other while telling our own authentic stories. From the revitalizing of The L Word to shelves upon shelves of realistic and award-winning lesbian and queer tales, the broader queer community has showed up for the next generation in miraculous ways.
Sexuality is a unique and sometimes fluid experience, but the authors below have referred to themselves as lesbians in interviews, bios, or tweets. As a lesbian writer, I find that these books and authors make my world brighter and less lonely. So for Lesbian Day of Visibility, a day I will be spending happily in love with my girlfriend and surrounding by the queer friendgroup I once imagined, cozy up with these tales of lesbians discovering themselves, their bodies, and their futures.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
This rich and luxurious novel follows three generations of women from a Tawainese-American family. The majority of the book is from the Daughter’s perspective, as she navigates her relationships to her Mother and Ama, as well as her own body (that is growing a tail) and her enchanting neighbor, Ben. Daughter and Ama begin communicating via letters that emerge from holes in the yard. It is easy to get lost in K-Ming Chang’s intensely lore-driven prose that reveals family secrets, desires, and histories.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
Forthcoming this June, Kristen Arnett’s new novel follows a married lesbian couple with a troubled son. Sammie is a stay-at-home mother who has rearranged her career to take care of her son, Samson, even though she is not naturally very maternal. Her wife, Monika, is emotionally distant and doesn’t provide much reprieve to Sammie’s monotonous and silently growing fear of her son. The book begins when Samson is a toddler and jumps to his teenage years, where their problems are still ever-unfolding and growing. A crooked portrait of dysfunctional partnership, parenthood, and resolution within oneself.
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
In the pristine tourist paradise of Montego Bay, Jamaica, lies a sordid reality for the natives of the island. Delores is the mother of Margot, a hotel worker by day and a sex worker by night, and Thandi, a precocious student who her family will do anything to support. Although Margot is potentially a lesbian, she uses her managerial position at the hotel to gain clients so she can send Thandi to a private school. Thandi, however, feels desperately out of place at the primarily white school. Nicole Dennis-Benn’s use of native dialects and dynamic characterization make her world feel dazzlingly haunted.
The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai
Set in post-apocalyptic Vancouver, Kirilow lives in an exiled community of women, some of whom can clone themselves (“doublers”) or regrow their organs (“starfish”). Then a mysterious flu sweeps through the town and her lover, a starfish with terminally ill clone sisters, dies. Kirilow, eager to save her community, leaves and finds a new starfish. But before they can save anyone, they’re kidnapped by a group of powerful men who are being detrimentally impacted by the new flu. In this cyberpunk novel, Lai creates a fever dream of a world made from the remnants of the one we know.
Little Fish by Casey Plett
When Wendy, a trans woman with a group of trans friends and a Mennonite family, discovers evidence that her late Opa might have been transgender, she ignores it. Between her recently deceased Oma, and her and her friends’ addictions, dives into sex work, and mental illness, there is plenty on Wendy’s plate. This novel looks unflinchingly into the breadth of experiences trans women can and do face, while never losing sight of the love within their community. Plett’s new collection of short stories, A Dream of a Woman, also focused on queer trans women, is forthcoming this September.
Funeral Diva by Pamela Sneed
A hybrid memoir of essays and poems, Funeral Diva mourns for a generation of gay Black men and queer people who died during the AIDS epidemic. Looking back to New York City during the late 1980s, Sneed reflects on coming out and losing so much of the Black queer community, as well as focusing on today’s crisis of police brutality and the Covid-19 pandemic. With other prose tackling her childhood, commentary on media, and navigating the world as a Black lesbian, this collection is concentrated and devastating.
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
The daughter of two addicts in a tumultuous marriage, Madden recounts growing up as a lonely Jewish, bi-racial, gay girl in the late ‘90s Boca Raton, Florida. With a captivating voice and gravity, this memoir in essays brings you into her world at full speed, complete with the trauma, confusion, and heaviness of addiction and assault. Years later, when her father dies, Madden reckons with how to grieve someone you never fully had.
Without Protection by Gala Mukomolova
In this collection of poems, Mukomolova explores her identity as a Russian Jewish lesbian New Yorker through the folk tales of Baba Yaga and Vasilyssa. While some poems embody the woods and lore, others are grounded in a fast-paced New York with Craigslist missed connections and lots of lesbian sex. Sometimes these worlds meet and cross over each other in outstanding ways.