Normal Blood Feelings: 5 Dark (and Sometimes Sexy) Queer Vampire Stories

The headline alludes to “Texts from Carmilla.” Feature image is public domain.

If witches are a way to tell stories about women and power, vampires are a way to tell stories about women and sex. As Pam Keesey writes in the introduction to Dark Angels, “The vampire is carnal – it is about flesh and blood. It is about the body and its attachment to this world, about attraction and repulsion, and about how the flesh, even our own, can both compel us and betray us.” Vampires can be a way to talk about sex and desire, sex and power, sex and bodies. And, particularly in heteronormative boy-vampire-girl-snack stories, they can be a way to tie sex and consequences for women together in one tidy, fanged package.

To be reductive: The traditional vampire story asks, what if women were punished by the very thing they desire?

The queer vampire story asks, what if we weren’t?


Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

carmilla

Carmilla, a gothic novella published in 1872, is not only the first lesbian vampire story in literature* but also “could be called the original vampire novel of modern Europe.” Laura’s family invites Carmilla, a beautiful stranger who appears in a 150-year-old painting and a dream from Laura’s childhood, to stay after a carriage accident in front of their home. The two become close friends, even though Carmilla sleeps all day, doesn’t tell anyone anything about herself, hates religion and seems to sleepwalk at night, which definitely is not related to several young women in nearby towns mysteriously dying. Before the predictably gruesome end — at the hands of peripheral men, though Laura rejects their solution and continues to view the events through her own complex lens — Laura and Carmilla spend some time in bed together:

“Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet overpowering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips traveled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, ‘You are mine, you shall be mine, and you and I are one for ever.'”

For extra credit, check out “Texts from Carmilla.” Carmilla is also available in the public domain.

*The actual first lesbian vampire story is Geraldine in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christabel, written in 1797, but that was poetry, and unfinished.


The Gilda Stories by Jewel Gomez

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A double Lambda Literary Award winner for fantasy and for science fiction when it was first published in 1991, The Gilda Stories is a queer Afrofuturist vampire saga told in a series of interconnected stories that span 200 years. In 1850s Louisiana, Gilda — then referred to as Girl — escapes slavery, is taken in by a brothel and joins the vampire family that runs it in eternal life. The narrative challenges the classic vampire/snack power dynamic with one of vampire/sharer, as Gilda’s family does not kill humans and leaves something of value in exchange, as Melanie Bell notes in her Autostraddle review. Though not classifiably erotica, The Gilda Stories is still undeniably erotic:

”Effie’s hands and mouth were tender, insistent — demanding Gilda’s pleasure be allowed its own way. Gilda enjoyed the sensation of yielding. She let go of worry about Samuel, of thoughts about Bird, and of desire she carried from the past. When she felt the welling of heat inside her she knew the release would be greater than any she had known before and opened her eyes to catch Effie’s gaze. The intent blazed inside the darkness of Effie’s face.”


The Hunger by Whitley Streiber

the-hunger

Perhaps better known for its 1983 film adaptation with Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and David Bowie and a backdrop of 80s goth clubs, The Hunger centres on Miriam, a centuries-old bisexual vampire whose human lovers live longer than average because of her powers but suffer a dusty living death as they irrevocably wither. After John, her current lover, begins to age, Miriam discovers Dr. Sarah Roberts, who might know how to beat the process in her future companions — and who Miriam soon invites to be one of them:

“Miriam had drifted into the habit of taking human lovers because she was lonely and they were satisfying and the emotional commitment was not great. You found a cute male or a sweet, sensual female […] and you seduced, softly, gently, with the caressing eye and the slow hand. Then you put them to sleep with hypnosis and opened their veins and filled them full of your blood, and magic happened: They stayed young for years and years. You told them you’d made them immortal, and they followed you like foolish little puppies.”


Daughters of Darkness and Dark Angels: Lesbian Vampire Erotica by Pam Keesey

pam-keesey-anthologies

As Keesey writes in the introduction to Dark Angels, Daughters of Darkness is a 1993 collection of lesbian fiction featuring vampire themes; Dark Angels is a 1995 collection of vampire fiction featuring lesbian themes. (Dark Angels was originally published, perhaps more accurately, as “stories” instead of “erotica.”) Regardless of where genre lines fall, the former collects work by Jewel Gomez, Katherine V. Forrest and Robbi Summers, as well as the whole text of Carmilla, while the latter features stories by Cora Linn Daniels, Carol Leonard, Cecelia Tan, Renee M. Charles and more. This excerpt is from Carol Leonard’s “Medea”:

“Medea watched with calculated certainty and then lightly teased her breasts down Hannah’s body until her mouth was on Hannah’s navel. She slipped her tongue into the indentation, then teased and nipped her way to Hannah’s springy public hair. She stopped to inhale deeply. Yes, blood… that delicious, salty, sweet and musty nectar! The skin of her scalp began to tingle and she let out a low growl. She snaked her tongue down between the silky folds of Hannah’s clit. She drew her head back and breathed hot breath on it and brushed it with her tongue ever so slightly, teasing. Hannah was squirming with impatience. She reached down and grabbed handfuls of Medea’s hair, pushing Medea’s face firmly into her. Medea laughed, beginning a more firm and rhythmic stroking with her tongue.”


Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon

better-off-red

Vampire sorority sisters having sex every six pages? WHY NOT. Ginger Carmichael is drawn to join the Alpha Beta Omega sorority despite herself, only to discover that her pledge is not only about sisterhood but also about serving six bloodthirsty demons for the rest of her possibly abbreviated life, and that her secret crush, Camila, is actually an immortal vampire queen. (Who likes her back!) This book is just smutty fun in a classic lesbian erotica vein, I don’t know what else to tell you.

”I would walk to her, and every time, she would kiss me, deep and slow, letting her warm hands gently trail along my sides, up my back, and if I was feeling secure in my squeaky dorm mattress, around to my breasts. She’d flick at my nipples, pinch them through thin layers of cotton until an almost shrill moan from me made her stop. I would tease my clit as I liked to do before my fingers moved to my opening. One of her hands would follow the same path, spreading my wetness around. Her other hand rested at the small of my back, holding me in place as she pulled her lips away from mine and kissed a hot, wet path down my neck.”


What’s your favourite queer vampire fiction?


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Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Editor and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Bitch, Nylon, The Toast, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 723 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. 0

    My queer vampire fiction is in my imagination not my bookshelf because I’m somehow not weird enough and my favourite one is the edit of Carmilla that sets the story within the Romanticism art period around the time stays made a comeback and low necklines were still in vogue.
    The place is probably Saxony, Bohemia or Bavaria because forests and mountains are beautiful to the human eye but still terrify us. Also still a part of the Austrian Empire if I remember correctly

    But lately the physical setting is starting to take a more Welsh look and English moorland, I blame Poldark and a re-read of some Bronte novels.

    Vampires had a big impact on my sexual awakening and awareness of my queer kinky self during puberty that I have hard time figuring out how to explain without feeling like I’m being too explicit or coming off creepy AF, but here it goes.
    There’s a difference in noting another human is aesthetically pleasing and WANTING another human being. Smelling them, feeling the heat from their body, noticing their body in ways you never have before and feeling desire for the first time. Intense desire that makes you want to reach out and touch, desire that makes your whole body REACT in ways it never has before.
    A baby vampire’s hunger or human on the verge of turning (yes like Lucy in Dracula 1992) was the only thing my adolescent self could compare those new feelings and desires to. Probably because romance wasn’t a thing I read or watched, horror movies anything with violence in it really was the only media I really consumed.
    Also realising my interest in men wasn’t going to go away, my bisexuality couldn’t be cured and that I’d never be pure enough to be a lesbian cinched the vampire association. If I was going to be a tainted thing beyond the grace of the christian god or lesbian separatist ideology I was going to damn well relish in the evil of myself.
    A yummy warm body pumping with blood is a yummy warm body pumping with blood. Feel someone’s heart beat or carotid pulse after giving them a big ole orgasm. It’s a power rush to know that you did that, to feel it under your hands…or tongue.

    So Carolyn I must say I highly appreciate your brief analysis, two sentence summary on the traditional vampire story vs the queer vampire and the entire post of course.

    • 0

      I find this account highly relatable, though I identify as lesbian / queer.
      It comes to that point when, well, if you’re going to be a pain and blood hungry lesbian sadist, you might as well (consensually) enjoy yourself.

      And enjoy others enjoying themselves 😉
      (The gasps then moans, the little shocked noises as you bite down onto a tender nipple, fear and surprise melting into pleasure and need for more… Ahem. Yup, just… going to be in my room…)

  2. 0

    I really loved Octavia Butler’s Fledgling — which after reading this sounds like she drew inspiration from
    The Gilda Stories with the sharing structure, which is super cool. Then again, symbiosis and upending of taboos and Black characters that are complex in their sexuality have all been very much a part of her wheelhouse since her first Sci fi with the Patternist series (or maybe even earlier, not sure) 🙂

  3. 0

    Well, I would like to add Heather McVea’s books to the list. The Waking Forever saga is to me an example of what can be done these days on the vampire subject. They could probably be sexier, hahahaha, but the stories are quite good, anyway 😉

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