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Lesbian Authors for Lesbian Visibility Week

By Carly Bennett, Rhys Wright and Becca Binnie

In honour of Lesbian Visibility Week we’ve come together to share our favourite lesbian authors and shine the spotlight on some of our favourite books they’ve written. Don’t forget – lesbian authors are for life, not just for Lesbian Visibility Week, so don’t stop reading your favourite sapphic storytellers all year around! If you’re looking for even more lesbian author recommendations you can check out our previous publications, where you’ll find plenty of lesbian story recommendations from horror to memoirs, short story collections and everything in between.

Julie Anne Peters

Julie Anne Peters, who sadly passed away last month, was a tour de force in sapphic young adult literature from her first YA publication in 2000: Define Normal. At a time when few lesbian young adult books were published, Peters released almost a novel a year between 2000-2014 and was many readers’ first introduction to lesbian YA, winning numerous ALA Awards and a Lambda Literary Award. She, arguably, found most success with Keeping You a Secret, her 2003 publication that follows the coming out journey of protagonist Holland, her burgeoning relationship with Cece, the new girl at school, and the fallout when their relationship is discovered. Never shying away from difficult topics such as homophobia, rejection by family and friends, and domestic abuse within lesbian relationships, Peters wrote about topics two decades ago that are still barely touched upon by even today’s publications. While, naturally, there is language and terminology that feels dated now in a number of her works, Julie Anne Peters’ impact on sapphic YA as a whole is absolutely undeniable.

Malinda Lo

It’s impossible to write a feature on lesbian authors and not shine the spotlight on Malinda Lo, whose beautiful works of sapphic storytelling transcend genre and have won her almost every possible award and nomination – from a Stonewall Book Award to a National Book Award, multiple Lambda Award nominations and everything in between. Lo has leapt elegantly across genres throughout her career, making each of her books feel fresh and new, whatever your preferred genre is. Ash is a sapphic retelling of Cinderella, while the Adaptation series is a thrilling sci-fi trilogy, and Last Night at the Telegraph Club and Scatter of Light are perfect for those who love historical or contemporary YA.

As well as her novels (and features in multiple short story collections, including the brilliant All Out), Lo has carried out a decade-long (and counting!) research project that focuses on queer representation in YA: LGBTQ+ YA By the Numbers. An invaluable resource, it’s an accessible way to keep abreast of queer representation in young adult literature through the years, filled with both data and Lo’s incomparable insight into publishing LGBTQ+ YA.

Penny Mickelbury

A playwright, novelist, and short story writer, Penny Mickelbury has long been a trailblazer for Black lesbian fiction, particularly within crime and historical fiction. Of her three series of detective novels, her first was the Gianna Maglione novels, beginning with 1994’s Keeping Secrets. Breaking countless representational norms within the crime genre, the series follows Maglione, the head of Washington D.C.’s hate crimes unit, and her lover, Mimi Patterson. The series carved out a defiantly queer space within a genre notorious for casting queer and trans people as serial killers or their victims.

Her historical novels cover the nuances of the black experience in America, from slavery and the underground railroad in Two Wings To Fly Away to a multigenerational saga of the twentieth century in Belle City. Throughout her career, Mickelbury has broken new ground across genres and forms, received the Audre Lorde Estate Grant, twice been a finalist for the Lambda Awards, and written plenty of novels and short stories everyone should read.

Jewelle Gomez

With work focusing on women’s experiences, spotlighting LGBTQIA+ women of colour, American author and activist Jewelle Gomez is an estimable addition to this list. In 2021 she won the Legacy Award from The Horror Writers Association.

Her work includes the double Lambda Literary Award-winning novel The Gilda Stories (Firebrand Books, 1991). The speculative vampire fiction was Gomez’s debut novel and follows Gilda, a Black lesbian protagonist as she deals with the concepts of power and morality. Challenging common vampire myths the narrative explores love, family and relationships.

Aside from this engaging work of fiction and other poetry collections and short fiction works, Jewelle Gomez is also a playwright. She is in residence at New Conservatory Theatre Centre where her last three plays were commissioned. One named Leaving the Blues (2019), about singer/songwriter Alberta Hunter.

Furthermore, Jewelle Gomez has done a great deal of admirable work for women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights. Gomez was on the founding board of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in 1984, fought and continues to fight for marriage equality, and has been both host and keynote speaker at Pride events in NYC and San Francisco.

As a masterful writer and honourable activist Jewelle Gomez’s work is fascinating and definitely worth checking out!



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