This Pride Month, indulge in these reads that tackle the concept of lesbian sexuality in diverse contexts
While the social acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community continues to make small yet significant progress, proper media representation remains a challenge.
Fetishization is often disguised as lesbian inclusivity and merely works to deter the normalization that the LGBTQ+ community has long been rallying for. It’s time to move past the media portrayal of lesbian relationships that only serves to appeal to the male gaze.
Want to break the chain? Here are five fiction reads to remind all sapphic bookworms out there that love will always find a way to emerge victorious when they least expect it – and that this lasting love is for nobody but themselves.
Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
In this hilariously awkward young adult (YA) book, Elouise Parker gears up for her most-awaited summer job at the Magic Castle Playland, only to end up with the worst possible role: the hotdog mascot.
Embarrassing hotdog duties aside, Elouise is determined to make Nick, the amusement park’s hunky lifeguard, fall in love with her. To achieve her happily ever after with Nick, she seeks help from Seeley, her cool best friend, not knowing that she doesn’t even need to look any further; her true love has always been right by her side all along.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
A historic novel that occurs within the setting of San Francisco’s 1950s Red Scare, Last Night at the Telegraph Club follows 17-year-old Lily Hu, a first-generation Chinese-American. While Lily and her family keep a low profile amid fears of her father’s deportation, she forms a friendship with her classmate Kathleen Miller who had been ostracized due to speculations that she is a lesbian.
The pair’s unlikely friendship eventually develops into something more, despite Lily being warned by her best friend Shirley to avoid Kath. But in the name of love, Lily and Kath dive headfirst into the risks of pursuing a relationship against the backdrop of tumultuous times. Lo’s novel lyrically tackles the three-way clash between political turmoil, traditional tiger parenting, and exploring one’s sexuality.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
What does Yamilet get for falling in love with Bianca, her best friend at Rover High? Rejection, humiliation, and getting outed. Yamilet moves to Slayton Catholic to watch over her troubled younger brother Cesar… and to avoid Bianca at all costs. On her first day at Slayton, Yamilet meets a classmate named Bo, who she quickly becomes interested in after teaming up to defend their liberal views against their Catholic teacher.
Despite Yamilet beginning to warm up to Slayton, things back home are less than ideal. As the eldest daughter in a Mexican immigrant household, Yamilet must ensure that Cesar stays out of trouble, all while hiding her lesbian identity from her religious mother who often makes homophobic remarks in the name of Catholicism. But Yamilet finds herself making unlikely allies out of the people she thought she couldn’t be herself around, and becoming unfortunate enemies with those she thought she could trust.
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
Set in the notorious city of Salem in Massachusetts, These Witches Don’t Burn follows 17-year-old Hannah Walsh, a witch who had just called it quits with her girlfriend, a fellow witch named Veronica. Though centuries have passed since the infamous Salem Witch Trials, witches in Hannah’s area continue to be preyed upon by regular civilians and must thus conceal their magical abilities for safety, as ordered by their high priestess Lady Ariana. But when a string of concerning rituals threaten the solitude of Salem’s lone coven, Hannah is compelled to join forces with the person she hates most: Veronica.
When Morgan, a new crush, comes into the picture, Hannah is left weighing her priorities: move on from Veronica by developing a romantic relationship with someone new, or, against Lady Ariana’s commands, save her coven with the very person who broke her heart.
Bloom Into You by Nio Nakatangi (Manga)
High school freshman Yuu Koito has always been fascinated by the wonders of love songs and romantic stories but struggles to evoke the same emotions from her own romantic pursuits. When her feelings become a blur upon receiving a confession from her male friend of three years, she confides in Touko Nanami, her senior in the student council. Much to Yuu’s surprise, Touko ends up confessing that she, herself, is starting to fall for her.
This yuri manga narrates Yuu’s journey exploring her true feelings and overcoming her inability to feel authentic love as her relationship with Touko slowly begins to bloom.