welcome!!!!!! this is long overdue. i’ve been promising myself i’d made this forever. so here it is - the ultimate masterpost of wlw (women loving women) books. not all characters are lesbians, some are bi or pan, though all books feature f/f relationships and/or themes. there are 150+ recommendations, so enjoy!
The series of interviews conducted by Dr. George Henry with lesbians in the ‘30s illustrates a contentment in the lives of many of these women that would have frazzled the censors had that picture been reflected in the media. Many of his interviewees were self-actualized individuals, living to their full potential in mutually productive relationships. They say things such as:
“I’m doing the work [as an editor] I always wanted to do and I’m very, very happy. I’m very much in love with the girl too. We click… She has had the most influence for good in my life.”
— 20-year old white woman
“If I were born again I would like to be just as I am. I’m perfectly satisfied being a girl and being as I am. I’ve never had any regrets.”
— 26-year-old black woman
“Our relationship is just as sweet now [after eleven years] as in the beginning.”
— 29-year-old white woman
“Since we have been living together our lives are fuller and happier. We create things together and we are devoted to our [adopted] baby.”
— 30-year-old white woman
“I have a great confidence in the future. I think I’m going to be a very well-known artist… Homosexuality hasn’t interfered with my work. It has made it what it is.”
— 30-year-old white woman
— Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, pg. 112 by Lillian Faderman
They would ask if I was a man or a woman. They could arrest a woman for impersonating a man, so you had to be sure you were wearing three pieces of women’s clothes. You learned to avoid the police by walking on the side of the street where the cars were parked, or in the opposite direction on the one way streets so they would have to back up to get to you. It was always in the backs of our minds that we could be arrested. Any woman wearing pants was suspect.
Jackie, a lesbian who lived in New Orleans during the 1950s, quoted in Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
In honor of #BookLoversDay I think we can all agree that Henry Bemis is one of the most well-known lover of books! And believe me when I say that Burgess loved books equally as much as the character he played - so it’s most fitting to commemorate this day with a photo from TIME ENOUGH AT LAST.
I have many fond memories of Burgess reading to my sister and I. He had very strong beliefs about reading aloud to children and how incredibly important that was in language development and early literacy skills. So much so that he professionally recorded himself reading a children’s book just so “you’ll always have Uncle Buzz to read to you no matter what.” And I’m SO glad he did, as it’s something I will cherish forever.
The only fan page solely dedicated to Burgess Meredith // Lovingly ran by his grandniece in attempt to keep his legacy alive
But most lesbians never went to bars. Occasionally middle-class lesbians could make contacts with other women if they were members of a private group such as the Nucleus Club, an informal New York-based organization of the late 1930s that held weekly parties for lesbians together with gay men.
But although police harassment of lesbians was not common in the 1930s, they knew, perhaps by their observation of gay male experiences, that it was a potential they had to take into account, and that awareness must have dampened the enthusiasm of many to join such a club. The Nucleus Club parties were in private homes, but the group still thought it essential to adopt the rule that each gay man would pair with a lesbian as they left the party and they would go strolling out arm in arm so that neighbors would think the couples had been to a heterosexual gathering.
One should not underestimate the fun in this game of “fooling the straights,” but underneath the fun was genuine fear.
— Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, pg. 108 by Lillian Faderman
One woman tells of how her parents, upon discovering her crush on a physical education teacher when she was fourteen years old, first sent her to a psychologist “to find out if I was crazy.” When her parents’ persistent rejection of her sexual identification during her teen years caused her to be so depressed that she attempted suicide, they committed her to a hospital psychiatric ward where the nurses “tried to fix me up with boys” and the psychiatrists “made me feel I was the only one who ever felt love for someone of the same sex.” When her depression continued after her release, her parents again had her hospitalized, this time in a state mental hospital. She was not alone there, she says. She met a thirty-year-old lesbian who claimed “she had been in and out of institutions all her life for being a lesbian. I thought she was the sanest person there.” Similar stories were not uncommon during the mid-twentieth-century.
Lillian Faderman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
what book(s) on lesbian history would you recommend to a baby gay (me) who knows practically none?
tragically i currently only have one specifically lesbian history book, but i know a few overall lgbt history books which can also provide some perspective on lesbians of the past. i’m going to provide links to the cheapest editions i can find too because books are fuckin expensive
the gay revolution by lillian faderman| a veeeeery comprehensive overview of the fight for gay rights in america from pre-stonewall to marriage equality. it’s pretty dense so i haven’t finished it yet, but reading it is so fascinating.
word is out by nancy and casey adair| neither lesbian-specific nor a “history book”, per se, but hear me out: it’s a fascinating collection of interviews that provides a snapshot of gay life in america pre-AIDS, which is so mind-boggling to even think of. there’s no retrospective lens of academia or theory or anything - it’s just words, exactly as they were said, from gay people in the late seventies. you may know this as the book that made alison bechdel realize she was a lesbian. it’s great.
charity and sylvia by rachel hope cleves| i lied, this is also a lesbian history book, but i haven’t actually read it yet - it’s a textbook for a class i’m in right now. it’s the true story of two women who were married in the 19th century in massachusetts, and it sounds lovely.
a queer history of the united states by michael bronski| so, so cool. this covers queer existence in the US from pre-1492 (!!!!!) to the 2000s. it explains why and how exactly america became a pseudo-christian heteropatriarchy and american masculinity and really demonstrates that queer people have been around literally forever.
i have a lot of other books i haven’t listed because i haven’t had time to read them so i can’t really vouch for them, but feel free to poke around in my goodreads list which is full of queer lit.
You know when your (probably) white, male, straight, and cis friend asks you ‘if you could time travel to any time period, where would you go?’ Then proceed to refuse to accept answers such as ‘no where. The present is the best time to be me believe it or not’ or ‘the future’ - if you are a black wlw, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Next time this nuisance appears answer: Harlem, 1920s.
The black lesbian subculture thrived in Harlem and was very influential. For instance, it has been inferred that the “butche/femme” patterns were first found in Harlem and thereafter became an identifiable image in other wlw subcultures.
Harlem was by no means a homophobia-free zone in the 1920s. Nevertheless, the tolerance was sufficient enough for black lesbians to socialize openly in their own communities, which white lesbians generally couldn’t do. This specific time period and place would probably maximise your personal safety AND dating life.
The black lesbians even shared dance floors, bars, and nightclubs with the heterosexuals. If this fact seems familiar to you, it may be because you’ve read of them in novels such as Home to Harlem, Strange Brother, The Big Money, and Nigger Heaven - the nightclubs they featured all had counterparts in reality.
You’ll for once get to outnumber the straights! heterosexuals sometimes quit clubs when they perceived that the gays were taking over.
Once you find your vintage girlfriend and decide that you want to spend the rest of your life with her, you can marry her! Don’t feel pressured to keep it a secret - invite all your friends and family. Large butch/femme lesbian weddings were of the ordinary. Just make sure you you masculinize one of your first names to receive your wedding license. These licenses were placed on file in the New York City Marriage Bureau and were often common knowledge among Harlem heterosexuals.
If you are bisexual you may even be treated better by the then ‘LGBTQ community’ than you are today thanks to A’Lelia Walker. Daughter to the first self made female African-American millionaire and a businesswoman, Walker is believed to have been bisexual. Her contemporaries observed that “all the women were crazy about her.” some even believed that the various men she married were merely her beards. Nevertheless, historian Lillian Faderman believes that she had much to do with the “manifest acceptance of bisexuality among the upper classes in Harlem: those who had moral reservations about bisexuality or considered it strange or decadent learnt to pretend a sophistication and suppress their disapproval if they desired Al’Lelia’s goodwill.”
I know that if I can go back I’ll make sure I also get my hair done at one of A’Lelia’s salons. If they are good enough got European princesses, Russian grand dukes, and world-renowned intellectuals, they are certainly good enough for me.
Source: Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman
hello, do you know any good books about gay and lesbian history? i can't stand books were gay men and lesbian women are called queers or whatsoever... i'd like to inform myself where the words butch and femme came from and what the meaning of butch and femme in lesbian history is. :>
Oh sure! Here are a few that might be helpful as far as butch/femme history specifically:
-Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis -Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman -The Persistent Desire: A Femme-butch Reader by Joan Nestle
And a few more just for fun:
-The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture by Bonnie J. Morris -Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement by Marcia M. Gallo -Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Berube (Lesbians and gay men in WWII) -Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D’Emilio (Rustin was the gay man who organized the March on Washington) -Not a Passing Phase: Reclaiming Lesbians in History, 1840-1985 by Lesbian History Group
And there is always the Lesbian Herstory Archives! They are located in Brooklyn, which obviously is not reachable for many of us, but they do respond to specific requests with references that you might look for. (They also accept interns, for anyone who is in that area.)
If you’re looking for anything more specific by time period or subject, please just let me know!
Because lesbians were so frightened about divulging themselves and often had no idea where to meet other lesbians for social contact, life could be lonely even if they were lucky enough to have found a mate. May says she met her lover at the University of Texas in the late 1920s, and though they stayed together for more than twenty years, they told almost no one about the nature of their relationship. It placed such a strain on them that May often thought of leaving Virgie, especially during the ’30s, because “I was tired of hiding in a corner. And there was no question of coming out. I wanted so much to be able to talk freely with people, to be like everyone else, not to feel like we loved in a wasteland, but that was impossible. I had a lot of heterosexual women friends, but I thought that as long as I was in that relationship I could never have a close friend. I knew how people would have looked down on us if they’d guessed.”
Although May and Virgie had heard about homosexual men, they knew no lesbians. May claims that she did not become aware that there were other lesbians in the world until 1950, when they began going to dog shows and occasionally saw lesbian couples there, but even then they did not talk to them. At one point in the late ’30s they befriended two heterosexual couples who suspected they were lovers, but those friendships did not last long: “Both the men thought all I needed was a good fuck, and they let me know it.” When May left Virgie in 1953 she felt that although she was “going through a horrible time,” she had to suffer in silence, because there was no one in whom she could confide. It was not until the advent of the feminist movement in the 1970s, when she was already in her late 60s, that she felt she could talk about those years of her life. But the scars remained for women of her generation, as she indicates now. She says she still feels free to talk only in “appropriate circumstances.”
Lillian Faderman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
loses her memory and Sasuke - her husband - tells her how they came to be. What I love
about this fic is the gentleness with which he handles his wife and the little
things he has done to prove to her that he loves her.
typical ‘getting back to a love interest stealing friend’ with a not so typical
approach. Trust me when I say this it’s nothing like any other of its kind
because Hinata is kept pretty well in her character despite her wanting to grow
out of her shell. Read it, I strongly recommend it.
The best thing about it is that the author updates 2 to 3
chapters in one update and she’s pretty regular at it too. After a one-night
stand, Hinata and Sasuke are forever linked. Now she has to leave her life
behind for her child and move to the Land of Lightening with Sasuke. But what
started as a mistake would soon turn into something more. A bit depressing in the beginning but trust me
it gets better.
The fic has already reached 1k and for a good reason too. Not
many authors can pull off a fairly lemony story without it feeling like a porn.
A good plot, timely updates with significant word count to satisfy the reader in
you - this story has everything you want in a fic.
MsChifSantos does it again. Sasuke finds the last link to
his brother - his son and his lover - and he will do everything
in his power to protect them as he slowly falls for his nephew’s mother. But not everyone is as forgiving as she is. A strong
plot line and lovely characterization, it’s a must guys.
Sasuke, a sperm donor, unknowingly donates his sperm to the one girl he loves but the girl who thinks he hates her. Now expecting his child, will things work out in their favor? Don’t tell me this hasn’t piqued your interest.
Hinata is accidentally inseminated with Sasuke’s sperm. Not she’s expecting his child but the problem is they’re both content with their married lives yet feelings are starting to develop between the two. Author’s way of writing is really refreshing. A well in character post-war Sasuke. One of my personal favorites, you will truly enjoy reading it.
Hinata is arranged to be married to Sasuke but she starts falling for his teacher. I don’t know whether it’ll end up as sasuhina or kakahina but my hopes are with sasuhina because he’s sweet in his own Sasuke way.
All of the author’s fics are really good but this one is just splendid. A good blend of angst and romance. Sasuke and Hinata are imprisoned in a cell together but soon realize that they’re each other’s only chance at freedom. Soon feelings are involved as they give their all to protect one another.
Another entry by our favorite author. Naruto dies in an accident leaving behind two children and a heart broken wife. Now Hinata comes face to face with the one person whose disappearance had caused her husband great distress all those years. But she soon realizes why Naruto cherished his best friend so much. Beautifully constructed. Will make you cry and laugh. And it’s complete.
One of THE BEST fanfics i have ever read. This fic will affect you like none other. You’ll have the urge to bawl out your eyes when you read this because it is that sad. Hinata,s misery is captured so well that it’ll physically hurt you. The only thing I don’t like about this fic is that the author takes too long to update. But don’t be disheartened by her absence, they do show up once a year and bring a long update to make up for it.
My favorite fanfic of all times. Everything about this fic just pulls at your heartstrings and the ending will make you curl into yourself and cry. Sasuke’s love for Hinata is so palpable that for a moment you’ll forget that they’re not an actual thing. Beautifully worded, an underappreciated masterpiece. You have to try it guys. It’s soooo good. complete
***SHOT STORIES( not necessarily fresh but all my favorite )***
Perhaps the most important element in encouraging young college women in their escape from domesticity was a new form of what had been termed romantic friendship, which came to be called in college life, “smashes,” “crushes,” and “spoons.” These passions were even described in an 1873 Yale student newspaper, obviously without any awareness that relationships of that nature might have sexual undertones, or that elements of them were already seen as “inversion” by some European sexologists: “When a Vassar girl takes a shine to another,” the Yalie observed, “she straightaway enters upon a regular course of bouquet sendings, interspersed with tinted notes, mysterious packages of ‘Ridley’s Mixed Candies,’ locks of hair perhaps, and many other tender tokens, until at last the object of her affections is captured, the two women become inseparable, and the aggressor is considered by her circle of acquaintances as
Such mores and passions in women’s colleges did not die with the end of the century. Romantic all-women dances were held in the early twentieth century by colleges such as Vassar and Smith, as described by the Cosmopolitan Magazine in the 1901 article entitled “A Girl’s College Life,” where the writer observed that the older student generally played “the cavalier” for the younger student:
“She sends her flowers, calls for her, fills her order of dance, … takes her to supper, sees her partner home. … And if the freshman has made the desired hit, there are dates for future meetings and jollifications and a good night over the balusters, as lingering and cordial as any the freshman has left behind.”
The young women took these dances very seriously, as a veteran of such socials, Josephine Dodge Daskam, suggested in her early twentieth-century collection Smith College Stories. She describes one student having delightful “visions of the pretty little freshman” whose name would fill out her dance program and another student who in disappointment over her date “cried herself to sleep for she had dreamed for nights of going with Suzanne, whom she admired to stupefaction.” The writers were not disposed to speculate on the fact, but such courting often led to “lovemaking,” both in the sense of the nineteenth-century sentimental usage of that term and the way we use the term today.
— Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America by Lillian Faderman