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This Butch4Butch Manga Made Me Feel Heartbroken and Heartfixed

The Girl That Can’t Get A Girlfriend is an autobiographic manga by Mieri Hiranishi that follows her first crush, her first relationship, her first breakup, and trying to move on afterward. That all sounds like stuff we’ve heard before (which isn’t bad! We’re all humans, tell me the same story all the time because two different people will never be able to say it exactly the same!), but one of the things that hooked me is that Mieri is a butch who also likes butch women. I can’t speak for all communities, but in the black sapphic community, stud4stud couples are still looked down upon (see The Same Difference, comments under nearly any stud4stud picture on Instagram, and whole ass discussions on Twitter and Tumblr) and so having a book that even admits how tough it is to find another butch to date is really important.

Picture of a page from the book. In the first panel, Mieri is rushing towards her crush saying "This is my first real-life crush since middle school! I have to get to know her better!". In the second panel, Mieri hears a rumble of people in the distance behind her and says "Hm?" as she glances over her shoulder. In the third panel, three feminine girls stare at Mieri as they stampede past her at impossible speeds.

Less than 20 pages in, I sent this to my friend with tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard.

When you’re a “late bloomer” in the dating game, there is a pressure that comes with your first relationship that, at least from the outside looking in, you don’t get if you’ve dated in your teens or even had your little relationships as a kid. When you’ve dated as a younger person, even after the initial “I’ll never love anyone again,” there is still an understanding that someone will date you.

I don’t know if single people who’ve been single forever suddenly disappear after like age 13 or if they just get better at hiding it. Nearly everyone I’ve known assumed I’d been with someone way before I ever was, and I just let them believe that. (I don’t believe being single is embarrassing, but I’ve been embarrassed about enough to know that I don’t want to voluntarily welcome any more reasons for it.) I love when we get stories that are like, hey this sucks I’m not dressing it up for you, and I’m going to say some things that we are told not to admit to and I’m gonna make you laugh and then gently place the book down while staring off into space, heartbroken and heartfixed, because you’re finally being seen.

I had a lot of my first (consensual) relationship firsts last year, and this is what I mean. When Mieri believes that Ash is the end all be all to relationships, she has no evidence to contradict that. When I told my friends I will never love anyone again, I knew that it wasn’t true because I fall in love 18 times a day, but when I said that, I really meant: I’m not sure anyone will ever love me again. It feels like a once in a lifetime deal when you get to a certain age and that belief that if you don’t get it right this time, you will never get another chance can make you do things to keep a person you don’t want to tell anyone about. And we know, the only way to get through something, to grow from something, is to name it first.

Mieri’s manga names the things you’re ashamed you did when you were trying to be loved, and she shows you that you can grow from them, that what you’ve been led to believe is proof of you being unlovable is the start of you learning that’s not true.

The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend by Mieri Hiranishi comes out Tuesday, February 14 2023.

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A. Tony Jerome

A.Tony is a black nonbinary artist out here to do good and to do gay. They are a 2015 Pink Door Fellow, 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Fellow, 2020-21 Afro Urban Arts Lit From the Black! Fellow, and have worked with Roots.Wounds.Words., Words Beats & Life, and Winter Tangerine among other places. You can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

A. has written 47 articles for us.


  1. So happy this book exists, because as a late bloomer this is one of my big fears – I constantly read stuff about how butches are automatically assumed to be looking for femmes, and it just seems like when I manage to change my appearance so I look more androgynous, the kinds of people I would most like to date are going to assume I’m not interested in them.

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