Elevate Difference

Best Lesbian Erotica 2011

As the title indicates, Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 is a compilation of short erotic fiction from a variety of authors, both established and obscure. What the title fails to express is that this is not just yet another compilation of middle-of-the-road lesbian erotica. This edition, unlike others before it, centers on lesbian outsiders, the ones whose radical gender bending and subversive sexuality sometimes makes the rest of us just a little bit squeamish.

The history of lesbian feminism has been filled, unfortunately, with a bit too much self-righteous policing of lesbian gender expression and sexuality, a sometimes defensive response to the pressure we feel to reject heteronormativity while being just enough like the heterosexuals to be “acceptable.” Of course, many a put-upon femme can tell you of the pressures to be identifiably lesbian and very much “unacceptable.” While I am quite the middle-of-the-road, vanilla sort of lesbian, I think it’s about damned time, really, that we lesbian feminists get over ourselves and embrace how very diverse we Sapphic types can be and how very different our community is from the heterosexual majority.

For me, reading Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 was most definitively a “getting over myself” moment. Some of the stories fit right in to what I consider erotic, mainly because I could identify myself or, at least, my type, in the characters. Most were foreign to me. The characters and settings were recognizable enough in type. I have, after all, been a member of the lesbian community for nearly two decades now. But what distance there is between having observed and having experienced! Reading stories written from the perspective of those who blur the lines between genders and push the boundaries of human sexuality put my own gender identity and sexuality in a strange sort of perspective. It was, admittedly, a bit discomfiting at times but overall, rather enjoyable.

Ultimately, while most of the stories in the compilation are well written and structured and quite creative, I think that whether a reader enjoys them will depend a great deal on what she brings to the reading. For the lesbian outsider often excluded from such compilations, this one will surely be a welcome opportunity to find her fantasies expressed and her identity reflected in a way that is too seldom encountered in mainstream lesbian fiction. The insiders will be taking a journey in a strange land with the occasional rest stop in familiar territory. An open mind will be as vital on this expedition as a good map.

Written by: Melinda Barton, February 28th 2011