Why do you think the many, many lesbian writers out there aren’t recognized? Is it simply because they haven’t made it to the ‘mainstream’? Is it because they aren’t generally with the big corporate presses? Or is it a genre vs literary thing? Or is it something else altogether?
Ah, c’mon. It’s sexism. Men will read books written by men and almost never read a book by a woman (unless it’s about male domination as in 50 Shades). How do I know? I travel a lot and always look at the cover of books people are reading around me. Women will read women’s books and men’s books, but they look for women to provide soft, comforting romance stories and men to provide action/sci-fi/horror/paranormal/et.al ad nauseum. Oh sure, I’m generalizing and there are a lot of exceptions on both sides, but that’s it in a nutshell.
I’m a lesbian who writes YA literature about kids in rainbow families (with one or more members of the family LGBT). Right away, my audience is narrow, and then narrowed again. I want my books read by EVERYONE, because they touch on shared human themes. However, realistically speaking, only a handful of lesbian women raising kids buy them. Marginalized, much?
THEN, let’s talk about the all important number of reviews needed to be seen by potential buyers as worthy of their hard-earned money. I need reviews, but the people who buy my books (parents) don’t often read them but instead are purchasing for their kids. Kids don’t have Amazon and Goodreads accounts.
And as for sex, what’s up with straight women and their passion for reading/writing gay male erotica, but NOT crossing over to read lesbian erotica? They read cozy straight romances, but not lesbian cozy romances where the exact same emotions/frustrations/trust issues abound? Sexism, plain and simple. Starting in school with the literature used to teach, we’re taught that men authors are worthy and talented and their male characters significant changers of society. Women authors aren’t introduced until you take a special Women’s Lit course in college and those are almost always filled with women while the men are taking courses in Western Lit, or Classic Lit, or World Lit where the booklists are heavily slanted with men. When questioned, professors who make up these lists always say, “Well, there just aren’t that many significant women’s authors.” They never seem to realize they’re part of that very problem.
And lesbians have been sent to the back of the bus by both two significant social movements in recent history:
1) Right from the start, gay men tried to reject our participation in the whole movement (until AIDS devastated them and only their lesbian sisters stepped up, but that’s another story). For instance, did you know that the very first stone thrown at police during the Stonewall riots was hurled by a butch lesbian? A true, but obscure fact.
2) The women’s movement, during the 70’s, came right out and told us to step away from the whole cause because our participation somehow lessened their arguments for equality. We were visually distracting, our sexuality driving away male and Christian supporters. Huh, what, how?!?
Everyone seems to want us to be invisible, and since lesbians are the ultimate symbols of women resisting male domination I once again call SEXISM.