Lez Liberty Lit: Queer People Deserve Happy Endings Too

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Hi there and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!

Queer people deserve happy endings too, argues Camille Perri at Electric Literature:

“We have the same ups and downs, highs and lows, as anybody else. So why should the stories about us always be about the bad stuff? We deserve the romantic comedy, the late night barfly scene, the silly, light-hearted stuff of life reflected back at us. Because the reality is, that’s as much a part of our lives as the sad stuff. So why wouldn’t that be reflected in fiction?”

The latest VIDA count, a survey of gender bias in the print literary landscape, is in and things are still not great.

Qiu Miaojin was the first woman in Chinese literature to come out as gay, and she’s profiled at Longreads.

Feminist zine culture is evolving, writes Ione Gamble at Vice.

Here are three poems by Morgan Parker.

It is very fun to delete stuff,” and other wisdom from Anne Carson.

You can read an excerpt from Roxane Gay’s Ayiti, which was recently rereleased.

Just write 500 words.

It’s okay to have empty shelves.

Soccer is a universal language.

It’s weird how girl spies in literature never seem to grow up, writes Emily Burack at the Millions:

So why don’t the teenage spies grow up? Perhaps because teenage girls are less threatening to the “rigid masculinity” of espionage. One may find it easier to imagine a cheerleader taking down the bad guys—because it’s so implausible—than to think a woman could be the CIA’s best agent. The fantasy element of teenage spies is key. Of course teenage spies don’t exist, and since they don’t exist, sure, they can be female. And this fantasy is at the heart of the power of YA fiction: escapism. As Meghan Lewit writes in The Atlantic, “The stories and the genre itself represent a world of limitless potential. As a young reader, I didn’t comprehend that the opportunity to disappear into the lives and adventures of strong-willed young women represented a kind of feminist victory.”

Artists need pockets. (For stealing.)

These six women-focused publishing projects look neat.

The Oxford English Dictionary wants to include more regional words.

Librarians will guard your privacy with their lives.”

Which Lumberjane are you?

Read new poetry by Indigenous women. Read these six books if you need a new career. Read these five new weird short-story collections. Read lesbian-focused graphic novels. Read queer historical fiction. Read lost women’s classics. Read memoirs by women with unconventional jobs.


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Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Editor and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Bitch, Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 863 articles for us.

8 Comments

  1. But as publication day approaches, and my book is still one of the few queer love stories that doesn’t end in disaster, I think it might be worth talking about why I did this — and why I hope I’m not the last.

    This piece by Camille Perri was…weird. She writes as though there are not multiple queer publishing houses putting out dozens of queer romance novels literally every month. No, WLW romance novels do not hold a candle to MLM or het romance in terms of quantity, but it’s hardly as though it barely exists or is all that hard to find for anyone with safe access to the internet. It’s like, she’s either dismissing the traditional romance genre/output wholesale (which, of course, is something many, many people do, but it’s deeply misogynist!) or she’s just somehow unaware that, say, Bold Strokes Books and their substantial catalog of happily-ever-after lesfic exists?

    I won’t argue that there is still a very, very long way to go before we reach anything resembling equity for queer stories and queer authors, but it’s very frustrating how often I see think pieces decrying the state of queer lit that act as though Well of Loneliness, Rubyfruit and Price of Salt represent the beginning and the end of lesfic as a genre. There is so much more available, and pieces like this do a disservice to all of the queer authors and publishers who ~are~ getting their work out there and ~have~ been doing so for some time.

    • I too don’t quite understand Camille Perri’s take on the wlw lit scene. Is it a “major publishing house” point of view, seeing as she’s with Putnam ?

      I’ve fallen deep into “lesfic” and I am so enthralled by the quality of the writing and the range of storytelling. These are amazing , accomplished authors who care deeply about their craft. I don’t think I’ve ever been so fulfilled as a reader. It’s not all fluff, that’s for sure. Real life is in those pages, alternately terrifying, goofy, loving and powerful.

      Other than going out and drinking myself silly, most of my “leisure” budget goes to books, and virtually all of it lesfic (William Gibson is my one exception)

      … oliviactually, I’d love to know more about your book. I’ve pre-ordered a book from another AS member and can’t wait for it to be released. If you don’t mind telling us more about yourself that would be cool too !

      • My bad, I’m just a voracious reader, not a writer! The first sentence in my comment above was a quote from the Perri piece, I just html failed at making it look like a quote (or maybe AS comments don’t allow html, idk).

        And yeah, I suspect the deal with Perri is that she’s dismissing the romance genre out of hand and only focusing on “literary fiction” because she’s publishing with one of the big houses, which is elitist and gross on so many levels, and also just ridiculous because she specifically describes her book as a romantic comedy. /eyeroll What’s especially sad about this erasure of wlw lit is that is it overwhelmingly written, edited AND published by queer women FOR queer women. And, like you said, these women really care about their craft AND they are invested in uplifting and nourishing our community.

        I’ll be giving a hard pass to Perri’s book, but fortunately, since she’s not ~actually~ the lone warrior out there telling queer stories, I’ll be okay and still have plenty to read regardless!

  2. This is my favorite lez liberty lit ever! Maybe it’s because I got Ripley on the Lumberjanes quiz. Or maybe because today I finally got my letter of appointment for working 50 hours a week at a (previously) unpaid internship and the world seems bright and shiny again. Maybe because I started writing for myself again instead of for academia. Who knows! Either way, I have all the feels after literally inhaling all the things from this post. Weeeeeeee. Thank you, k bye.

  3. Camille Perri’s line about “the romantic comedy, the late night barfly scene, the silly, light-hearted stuff of life” reminded me how much I loved and needed fanfic back in the day (and sometimes still today, lbr). It felt so comforting and revolutionary to read about a queer couple going through the motions of a daily routine.

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