26 Triumphantly ’90s Lesbian Book Covers

The ’90s were a particularly special era in design, described by at least one blog as part of one of the “least subtle eras in graphic design history.” Photoshop 1.0 came out in 1990, rave culture and grunge music influence was everywhere, neons and bold bright colors were popping, geometric shapes and zig-zags were making their asymmetrical journeys to our hearts, and everybody was having a damn good time with typography.

Almost all of the books on this list (some of which I own and enjoy deeply) are available on the Internet Library, accessible via archive.org. You can register for free and sign out up to five digital editions of books at once! I just found out about it yesterday and my entire head exploded. All I have left are the hands I am using to type this post.










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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3227 articles for us.


      • This classic transition from engravers-ish font to jokerman says to me: “From the tombstone epitaph of my marriage to running away with the circus.”

        Thinking about it, this may be the plot to When Night Is Falling.

  1. OMG When I was a teenager I found From Wedded Wife to Lesbian Life for sale at my local library! I think that was also the same day I found the lesbian almanac (though it has a different cover from the one above). I always wondered who owned those books and gave them up.

    I also bought So You Want to be a Lesbian as a joke. I have no idea what happened to it.

  2. “Bushfire” might be the best-worst title for lesbian erotica ever.

    Also, what is going on here:

    Are they dancing? Are they grappling? Are they whispering secrets in each others’ ears? I am not familiar with this approach to therapy

  3. All of these books would fit right in with the selection at my undregrad’s twice yearly book sale!!! There was always a surprising amount of 80s/90s era books on lesbian/gay culture, desire, sex, family, some pulp fiction. I may have even seen one or two of these there actually

  4. Susie Sexperts played a big role in my early 20’s. I had some of these books. Thank you, Downtown Book & News for providing my queer reading material in the 90’s.

  5. OMG I am just insatiably curious about Switch Hitters! Is it funny?! Is it gross?! Is it good?! Going to look for a copy on Amazon RIGHT NOW!

  6. So many familiar covers there since those were the years I was most desperately seeking any queer anything

    • Highlight for me on that one is one of the articles in the first book. ‘how to break up with a psycho serial killer’. Is that really a common enough experience for front cover? Mind you would be a pretty creepy thing just to stumble upon hidden away somewhere in the book.

  7. “So You Want to Be A Lesbian: Breaking Up-Without Going into the Witness Protection Program”

    I’m listening…

  8. For some reason I think my local indie bookstore still stocks about 50% of these. I have no idea why they can’t find anything more current for their LGBT section.

  9. That creepy “come on Jenny, let’s play doctor” baby will definitely be in at least one nightmare tonight.

    Anyway, my college girlfriend in 2000 definitely had at least two of these books (she was a women’s studies major).

  10. Oh, to be college graduated, freshly- out-the-closet lesbo booknerd in the Village in the 90s! Life was good. Complicated but good. I worked at what was the largest lgbt bookstore in the country –RIP A Different Light. Helping cute women find books was the absolute best job ever. Sold many of these and met a few girlfriends while doing it!

    • Indeed it t’was, dear one, it t’was. First of all, if they came inI knew they liked or were at least somewhat interested in books.Thus there was a hope they’d be somewhat intelligent and we’d have something to talk about. Score! Then I could guide them to the ones that suited their tastes which meant unleashing the charm offensive to chat them up about what they liked to read and what they were into and “Hey, I love macrame windsurfing, too. Kewl” while slyly getting the relationship status.

      But really the best thing was helping some newly out scared shitless person, find the books that would help them begin to hopefully understand themselves. I loved talking to these folks and usually sent them off with what I called the Starter Kit: some classic novel, maybe a little erotica, maybe a little theory, definitely some comics–Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse– and a magazine like the Advocate or Curve (RIP). Directed them to the LGBT Center or provided other resources and sent them off smiling. Good good days!

  11. I get what they’re going for with ‘bushfire’ but I can only think it sounds like an awful infection.

  12. A truly stunning collection here, thanks as always for sharing the fruits of your research with us.

    After spending some time accumulating terrible lesbian sci-fi books of the 90s, I feel this is also a fertile ground for analysis.

    Here’s an example from a book where everyone may or may not be a cyborg, probably is in love with a cyborg, but definitely is a lesbian:

  13. These are so great and the timing is impeccable. I’m currently designing my company’s marketing materials and what better way to insert my agenda than adding some ’90s lesbian book cover inspo?

    I’m also really glad that you added Ain’t Gonna Be The Same Fool Twice, the sequel to my root:

    Somehow one my “hetero” elementary school friends owned this book, let me borrow it, and well… here I am today.

  14. I’ve never read any of these, but does anyone remember Animorphs? I totally felt like Cassie and Rachel had something going on. Then they made that awful TV adaptation, and there was no denying it. I mean Tobias turned into a bird, Jake was related, and Marco had mommy issues. I’m just sayin ;)

  15. I read this article then went right to amazon to order that queer baby name book for my coffee table.

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