23 Vintage Young Adult Novel Covers With Major Lesbian Subtext

It’s no secret that I spent a solid chunk of the ’80s and early ’90s reading terrible young adult novels. Nor is it any secret that Mallory is gay and wants to ride the hobby horse with Bossy Kristy. When you combine both of these not-secrets and add a scoop of excellent nostalgia blogs like Neon & CigarettesI’m Remembering, Cliquey Pizza and Vintage Book Covers Flickr — you get me making this very important list for you.

23 Young Adult Novel Covers Dripping With Lesbian Subtext

1.

lesbian fashion pioneers (via neonandcigarettes)

what? i draw moustaches on myself all the time at home! (via)

2.

via neonandcigarettes

Oh my gosh charlene, i think that girl is a vegan (via)

3.

no problem. (via)

no problem. (via)

4.

hey sooooo amy what has two lips and wants to meet jessica

hey annie, wanna get high and scissor after school? (via)

5.

words (via)

and there goes the lesbian separatist commune (via)

6.

c'mon baby, just come with me to the poly potluck and see what you think (via)

c’mon baby, just come with me to the poly potluck and see what you think (via)

7.

come and get me, sugar mommas! (via)

that’s right sugar mamas, i’m yours for the taking (via)

8.

sorry guys my girlfriend thinks it's super-weird and doesn't believe me that all we do is eat pizza and paint each other's nails (via)

sorry guys my girlfriend thinks it’s super-weird and doesn’t believe me that all we do is eat pizza and paint each other’s nails at these “sleepovers” (via)

9.

news flash: it's mallory

it’s mallory, duh (via)

10.

coincidentally this is also the title of the last episode of "the l word" (via)

coincidentally this is also the title of the last episode of “the l word” (via)

11.

she just couldn't stop thinking about shane

she just couldn’t stop thinking about shane (via)

12.

hey patriarchy stop touching my hair! (via)

hey patriarchy stop touching my hair i’m trying to read about diva cups! (via)

13.

you know, "roommates" (via)

you know, “roommates” (via)

14.

hopes to bring her buffy fanfic fantasies to life

…or a Buffy fanfic fantasy come to life? (via)

15.

see what this straw is doing to this milkshake? that's what i'd like to do to your vagina. (via)

see what this straw is doing to this milkshake? that’s what i’d like to do to your vagina. (via)

16.

i believe this is what is best known as "a romantic friendship" (via)

at last, mary-jo and sue-ann were able to get a nice place in boston and start making a life together with other romantic friends (via)

17.

(via)

ugh mary anne totally went to phresh cutz without us!!! (via)

18.

(via)

can’t stop checking her ex-girlfriend’s tumblr (via)

19.

oh my god karen i told you to stop teasing me like that

oh my god karen i told you to stop teasing me like that (via)

20.

holy fuck my girlfriend and i have officially merged and look exactly like each other

holy fuck my girlfriend and i have officially merged and look exactly like each other (via)

21.

we're going to choice cunts! (via)

we’re going to the dalloway! (via)

22.

welcome to C-Camp (via)

welcome to C-Camp (via)

23.

duh

because mallory loves girls (and science) [via]


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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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59 Comments

        • Al

          I thought #4 looked a bit like Alicia Silverstone, or this girl I went to middle school with who looked like the girl on the cover.

          • omg yeah #4 totally looks like courtney cox

          • I’m totally getting short haired Kristen Stewart from #4

    • Al

      That could be here as a quick google search brought up others thinking it is her on the cover of another Sweet Valley book(#11).

  1. “We should fund our lesbian separatist commune by making a bunch of those palazzo pants and screenprinting ‘You Do You’ on them!”

  2. This is so good, Riese. This is the most important thing in a day that’s already featured both whiskey sours and Ella Fitzgerald.

  3. pretty sure #1 was a storyboard from that dance marathon episode of the L word.
    and if Annie Whitman in cover #4 is the wrong kind of girl, I don’t want to be right.

    • AS should review books so that quotes like that can go on the back cover.
      “If Annie Whitman is the wrong kind of girl, I don’t want to be right.” — Autostraddle Book Review

  4. #16 Those cardigans and pearls make me long for the 80s. Amazing list :)

  5. AnnaY

    Kristy’s Secret Admirer
    IT’S MALLORY, DUH

    Oh pleeease we all know Kristy and Cokie Mason had some intense chemistry. Poor Cokie, her feelings about girls confused her so she took it out on Kristy, who was comfortable with her sneakers and softball.

    /unresolved childhood feelings

    • YES OMFG I TOTALLY ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY HAD A THING FOR EACH OTHER. Or at least Cokie had a thing for Kristy…

  6. #2 has all the right things. Spike Hair, Jacket, Skateboard. Yup Yup.

  7. Marge

    Love the list but I don’t get how Stranger With My Face’s cover has a lesbian subtext. Let alone what the book is actually about!

    • honestly when i looked at it, it reminded me of when me and alex used to accidentally wear the same outfit

  8. for #20, stranger with my face, that is totally NOT the cover that was on it when i read it. the one i read had wayyy less lesbian subtext and was a lot more scary! no pastel pink on that one!

    also i think mary anne spier was my first girl crush, especially when she got that haircut. it was besides the point that she also got a boyfriend.

  9. L

    hold on,CEDAR RIVER DAYDREAMS. That series was one of my absolute favorites but I had repressed it completely! I was obsessed with it, but the protagonist was an evangelical Christian and I had never even been to church so i basically spend a lot of time reading those books and thinking about how i should really be saving my soul or something.I struggled with feeling like a godless heathen anyway as a little gay preteen living in the South with no religion so it just gave me so many feelings but i compulsively read every.single.book. some of them many times. I had repressed all of that until this moment so thank you for unlocking such a huge part of my of childhood/subconscious. imma go process now.

    also,these books were everything to me as a kid.i remember so many of them so thanks for compiling them!

    • Lilli

      It does look like Keri!
      And the other girl kinda looks like Jennifer Love Hewitt, actually!

  10. this made my WEEK! the Girl Talk books had a little survey at the back of each one where you let them know which characters you’d like to see more of and in what situations. wrote in Sexual Situations [blushing FURIOUSLY] and serious illnesses, mailed it in, never heard back. there was the one where Katie got appendicitis later but i was probably too vague in my phrasing for the first bit. i wish i had the words then to tell the survey moderators what i Really wanted in my life, which was Randy Zak getting fingerbanged by Stacy Hansen under one of the tables at Fitzie’s.

  11. I read #1. Until this moment I never realized just how queer the cover and concept was. Dear Lord how could I have missed that!

  12. pdawg

    #15 made me laugh so hard in public *wipes tears*

  13. c camp: c*nt cap = the camp i’d really like to go to
    have i mentioned i’m single

  14. Jayne

    I thought number 6 was grabbing her butt

  15. Tali

    I was way into Babysitters Club, but completely missed Kristy/Mallory, and now can’t remember enough details to put it together. Will somebody explain?

  16. Oh my lord. Posts like these make me realize just how very, very many utterly forgettable paperbacks I must have plowed through between the ages of 6 and 12. Do I remember at all what Sleepover Friends or Camp Sunnyside Friends were like or about (besides sleepovers and camp)? Not a clue. BUT I KNOW I READ THEM. (And series like the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley go without saying — but I’m talking about the weird off-brand versions that nobody really seems to have loved or remembered.)

    • oooh yeah. and not the ones that revolved around a particular activity like Silver Blades. Practically popular crowd? alexa craft–>trim curvy villain and priscilla handpainted satin jackets? or what about the one of younger girls there was a Meg and Hurricane Stevie?

      • Yes Silver Blades! I was a figure skater as a child so I read those, though I can’t say they made much of an impression (I think probably also my library only had a couple). Hurricane Stevie is totally ringing some bell . . .

  17. I’ve read so many of those. The Scholastic Book catalogue (from which I ordered a bunch of them), was my favourite thing about Primary School.

    • Rae

      Yes! This! Maybe I should write a letter of appreciation to Scholastic – ‘Thanks for helping me be queer and nerdy. I now like girls and books.’

  18. I am so attracted to the girl with the drum sticks on #21 I’m not even kidding.

  19. Sam

    Oh dear, #23 looks disturbingly like me aged 15 – right down to the identical PE uniform we had to wear at my school…

  20. Kyle

    Great, now where are the books with the lesbian subtext?

    All I’ve seen here are books with two girls on the cover (which is not lesbian subtext) or girls wearing “boys” clothes…. crossdressing =/= homosexuality, and wearing men’s clothes can mean you simply don’t want to pay 5x as much money for half as much fabric.

  21. Brian Katcher

    Is it odd that the first thing I noticed on number 8 is that awesome 80s computer?

    • anon

      yes, but only because that is a television.

  22. Monica Nolan

    I have actually been looking for No. 1, ever since I read it under the title “Tommy and the Tigers” some twenty years ago. It’s a great book, about an all girl rock group that passes as boys so they can get better gigs, and featuring a terrific teen girl character who makes good use of her uncanny resemblance to Mick Jagger, and then must deal with adoring girl fans. Sadly, a heterosexual resolution to it all, but lots of fun along the way.

  23. I read so many of these when I was younger. These are just so gay I can’t even.

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