Elevate Difference

Best Lesbian Romance 2011

Best Lesbian Romance 2011 is just that: some of the best lesbian-themed romantic short stories you’ll read this year. Beyond just lesbian romance, this interesting compilation seems to center around variety. Set in a variety of locales, covering various relationship stages, drawn from various cultures and subcultures, and even drawing upon various genres, the stories in this collection leave virtually no stone unturned as far as variety is concerned.

Locations shift from the Slovenian countryside to a Magdalene laundry in Ireland, from a small community theater to a bingo parlor, from a grocery store to a werewolf pack’s hunting grounds, bringing with the change of place, a change in culture and subculture that leaves the reader pleasantly disconnected from it all. Characters detail everything from the first stirrings of teenage love to the subtler romance of a long-established relationship made new by pretense, the feelings we remember and the ones we relatively younger lesbians hope to some day experience. They’ll make you laugh, cry, sigh, and even wish you grew fangs at the turn of the new moon.

So, variety is covered. Diversity, however, seems to have gone missing. Although the demographic characteristics of some of the characters is anyone’s guess, the impression given is that the characters are overwhelmingly of the Caucasian persuasion and generally able-bodied, even if a few are four-legged part of the time. I don’t know if that’s acceptable in 2011. I’ll give the editor the benefit of the doubt and assume that there weren’t many submissions from women of color or the differently-abled, but a compilation without diversity seems a bit too limited.

I’m torn. I loved the stories and greatly enjoyed reading them. Radclyffe did a great job of picking some wonderful, exciting, intriguing, well-written entries. But I want more. I want women of color. I want women who find love that transcends physical limitations, the kinds so many of us experience in our daily lives. (Sorry, but turning into a werewolf doesn’t count if the woman you love is also a werewolf.) I want a compilation that leaves as few of us out as possible, that allows most, if not all, of us to see ourselves and sigh just a little bit at the memories of our own loves. I don’t think that’s wanting too much.

Written by: Melinda Barton, April 6th 2011