All posts tagged: LGBT

Yoshiya Nobuko Uncovered Classics

Untranslated Classics: Yoshiya Nobuko

Name: Yoshiya Nobuko
From: Japan
Lived: 1896 – 1973

According to a 1935 article in Hanashi: “There may be women who don’t know who heads the Women’s Patriotic Association, but there is not a single woman alive who doesn’t know who Yoshiya Nobuko is.”


So why has Yoshiya been so ignored by Western scholars? Listen, we like our literature a certain way here in these parts, and we like our short-haired lady authors straight. Shōjo about school girls falling in love? Stories titled Dannasama Muyo (Husbands are Useless)? More like Husbands Are Great Yoshiya, What Are You Talking About by The United States of America.Read More

image: A black woman holds a letter in a field of flowers. In the distance is a house.

Fighting for Freedom: A Review of The Color Purple

I first attempted to read The Color Purple when I was 14. I’d recently been introduced to the film, and thought that reading the original work would enhance my understanding of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation. I was wrong. I was a voracious reader, and even I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of Alice Walker’s phenomenal masterpiece. It wasn’t until I reread The Color Purple as a senior in college that I was able to understand the feat Walker was able to accomplish by publishing a novel that chronicles friendship and love and triumph through the lenses of multiple Black women.Read More

image: Two white hands sew a green dress.

Madness. Chaos. Parties.

This New Years, my roommates and I decided to host a party. It was our first party since graduating college and moving to Chicago together. Friends came in—from Houston, New York, Detroit—and on the day of the party, I couldn’t stop thinking about Clarissa Dalloway getting ready for her own party. I hadn’t seen most of the people coming since graduation, and much like Virginia Woolf’s eponymous character in Mrs. Dalloway, I became overwhelmed with both nostalgia and uncertainty, revisiting and reconstructing my memories of the various people re-entering my life. Woolf uses such specific emotions and situations to uncover more universal feelings. After all, on paper, I have very little in common with Clarissa Dalloway. And yet, I couldn’t get her out of my mind as I bought cheap champagne she would never stoop to buy herself. Read More

image: illustrated collage of fruits, leaves, and flowers, that resembles a vagina.

Polymorphous and Perverse: On Rubyfruit Jungle

I was in college when a lesbian friend handed me a copy of Rubyfruit Jungle. It was squat and plain, with an abstract purple-and-white cover and the word “bestseller” tucked furtively above the author’s name. It also had a tender and hilarious dedication, a provocative sample on the first page, and in retrospect, one of the gayest author photos I’ve ever seen: a handsome, dignified woman with a neckerchief stroking a cat while gazing contentedly into the middle distance. (Fans of Rita Mae Brown know that this cat’s name is Sneaky Pie Brown—the “coauthor” of her Mrs. Murphy cozy mystery series.)

I wasn’t out yet. I wasn’t even exactly sure what I was, what “out” meant exactly, or what was out there for me—though my friend giving me this little book was both perceptive and prescient.Read More

image: illustration of a black cast iron pan over a solid pink background.

Female Friendship in a Society Designed to Keep Women Apart

Female friendship took center stage in my life this past year after I moved across the country. I had female friends in my new city, but they were isolated friendships – one woman I’d see in mixed company at parties or another I’d meet for one-on-one brunches. These women friends didn’t know each other and I didn’t know their other female friends, but many of our problems – advancement at work, love and relationships, street harassment and assault – were the same. They were also isolating and to us, shameful.  It seemed society was designed that way, as if too many women talking to each other might unlock some sort of power (hint: it does, as shown in the book I’m about to review). Society is framed to keep women apart. You have to actively fight it.

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image: Illustration of two white women holding hands. One is wearing a white shirt and the other is wearing a red dress.

Queer Romance Patience and Sarah Resists Categories

First published in 1969, Patience and Sarah remains a classic of lesbian literature. Written by Alma Routsong under the pen name Isabel Miller, the intimate, timeless novel presents the story of two women, 27-year-old Patience and 21-year-old Sarah, who fall passionately in love in 1816 Connecticut.

Each lives somewhat outcast from their conservative, religious community—Patience for her elite education and refusing to marry, Sarah for dressing and laboring as a man—and from the moment they meet, they are instantly and overpoweringly attracted to each other. As they begin to do something like dating, we learn that Sarah, who feels miserable and trapped, has been secretly planning to leave and purchase a farm in New York. Read More

image: photograph collage of a white woman holding an axe over her shoulder against a textured green background. Her back is illustrated with white flowers and leaves intertwined with the text of the title and author.

The Woman Doesn’t Fall

I read My Antonia slowly, like my bookshelf was experiencing a famine and I had to ration female perspective. Luckily for me and all of you, there’s been a lot of that going on since the dawn of humanity, and I am very excited to illuminate some of it by way of this blog.

But not everyone can do what Willa Cather can.

What overwhelmed me, besides the poetic beauty and wit of Cather’s writing style, was how strong women are seen as beautiful, female friendships are reliable and sustained, and women take control of and improve their circumstances. To be overwhelmed by any of this is nonsense. But I was. Read More