Confession time! I’m not really fond of Sarah Waters. Which makes me… either a bad lesbian reader and/or librarian, or just really, seriously, happily spoiled with actually happy stories.* Thus I remain.
Sandra & Meike were one of the first lesbian ships I ever remember reading, and they heavily inspired my first (thankfully unpublished) novel back in early 2010s. I guess they need a bit of introduction, unless you’re either German or Croatian—they were the heroines of the lesbian YA romance Sandra liebt Meike or Sandra voli Meike (literally, Sandra loves Meike) by Marliese Arnold, which I read a little too late, but loved to bits either way, because [SPOILER ALERT] no lesbians die in the story! Huzzah! It’s a diabetes-inducing short romance with normal people and their normal lives, and it still holds a special place in my poor little reader heart.
Kel Cheris is the flagship lady of the perfection which is the Machineries of Empire by Yoon Ha Lee, where it’s seriously hard to find more than one (1) character who is, in fact, straight. (The whole series is blindingly brilliant, and you don’t even need to take my word for it—you can go read the damn thing yourself. Like, now.) Cheris is a fun character who’s also a very bad—or extremely good, depending on your point of view—soldier. Machineries is a space opera series which is seriously, damningly good literature. And I really don’t want to spoil it, not even from afar, so there.
Shane McCutcheon was the one fictional queer lady whom you had to have guessed from the list (unless you’ve seen my, err, new obsession with the last one, a few days ago, on social). I think crushing on Shane—or emulating Shane—was like a rite of passage for a few generations of real-life queer ladies. I actually inherited her from an ex, but loved her nonetheless, even though the self-destructive approach to life was too much for me, from time to time.
America Chavez is one of those characters you can only do so much before you just go and cosplay her. (Which I did! A few years ago, before I got my leg tattoos.) She’s a ray of utter, ass-kicking, universe-punching sunshine. If you’ve never read any of her comic titles, I started with Young Avengers vol.2 and loved it. (Oh, hey, and her moms were queer, too!)
Amanita & Nomi, to continue with the ‘rays of sunshine’ category, are probably my favourite couple from one of my favourite tv shows of all time—Sense8. If I had to pick one among them as my favouriter, I’m not sure I would be able to. (I loved Nomi more as a character, but, um, Amanita is played by Freema Agyeman, so, um, yeah.) One of the reasons I’ve included them among my favourite queer ladies is because their relationship is so incredibly healthy. It’s not necessarily a feature I’m looking for in fiction of all kinds, but I can’t help but enjoy it immensely when I do stumble upon it. Also, they’re so effin cute, like… I just can’t.<3
Gideon the Ninth got her own post a few days ago, but for the sake of this one, just let me say… there are none like Gideon, absolutely none, out there, in the whole wide universe of fictional literature and media altogether. I wrote this post on the day I finished reading the book which shares the title with her, er, title (and a part of her actual name), and it’s one of the many reasons why I literally can’t pull my head out of my ass long enough to write anything coherent about her. Who, you know, happens to be one of my favourite characters of all time. Ahhh, Gideon. And Gideon’s biceps. And Gideon’s two-hander and… you know what, Vesna, okay, enough. That’s enough for now.
Let’s wrap it up.
There’s no doubt that this list could’ve been thicker, but you might’ve noticed that I chose to concentrate on canonically queer ladies. What a wonderful time we’re living in.
The fact that there are no characters played by Kristen Stewart on the list is a shame, really, I’ll admit it. I’ll give her a few years (and better fictional partners than you-know-which-movie).
On that note, why aren’t there any more wonderful literary women-with-good-taste on my list, you might ask? Because I’ve only recently started reading lesfic, that’s why! I’ll be sure to share an updated—or book-only, hmmm?—version when I have more wonderfulness to add.
In the meantime, I am always looking for great ladyloving recs, so…
*That’s why I’ve included Gideon on this list. Of course.
…in case it wasn’t obvious, I love queer ladies, which is why I wrote a novel with them, rather recently, and it even has a female-related noun in the title—Johnny’s Girls. You might want to check it out if you like Shane as much as I did. Just saying.