Apr 21, 2016

Girls Like Girls - Just Not in Books

I had originally planned to write an entirely different post for today, but I changed my mind when I went to the bookstore on Tuesday. I had enough money saved from my birthday to purchase two books, and my mother offered to buy me a third, so I was (understandably) pretty happy.

I looked through the young adult section for a good half hour, and I only ended up leaving with two books. Both look good, but I’m not incredibly excited to read either one.

My biggest problem is that even when a book seems to have an interesting plot, I rarely find one without a male/female romance. It’s not like I have anything against that, but when it’s focused on in just about every book you read and you can’t identify with it it gets tiring.

I like books about girls who like girls. Even if they’re boring, even if they aren’t written well, and even if they’re otherwise terrible, I keep them on my bookshelf because they’re so hard to find. I tend to rate them better in reviews and on Goodreads, and they’re the books that I tend to read over and over again. Am I biased? Absolutely. It’s hard not to be when every piece of representation feels like a gift that should be treasured.

In a way, I wish that LGBT wasn’t a genre. “Straight kids who spend the whole book trapped in a cycle of will-they-won’t-they (spoiler alert: they will)” isn’t a genre, so why should it be any different between two girls? I know that it’s a little ridiculous and it’s obviously not realistic, but it still frustrates me.

And, of course, I’m only addressing LGB diversity. I’m white and I’m cisgender, so I obviously can’t speak to the experiences of trans people and people of color, but if it’s hard even for me I can’t imagine how hard it must be for others.

I appreciate each and every author who writes about wlw (women-loving women). What you’re doing is groundbreaking, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Finding a book where two girls are allowed to kiss makes my day, and I’m lucky enough not to face severe homophobia. I can’t imagine how much it impacts girls who are in less fortunate situations than I am.

I’m not sure if I want to be an author when I’m older, but in a way it sort of feels like a duty. If I write a story in which two princesses get a happily ever after, I might be able to assure someone that liking girls is normal and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I feel like I owe it to the girls who come after me, to show them that “lesbian” isn’t a bad word and that their feelings towards girls are valid. I know that it would have helped me when I was younger.

So, to the authors who write badass girls falling in love with each other: thank you.

To the rest of the world: we need to do better.

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