Twenty-Six Lesbian Letters
Finding our voice by writing our stories.
How strange it is that so much can be done, told, shared, explained, celebrated - simply by stringing twenty six letters together in varying and various combinations. How often do we stop and think about just how amazing it is to not only be able to read and write in the first place, but to be able to put our stories into any sort of context we like, just by writing them down?
Open your favourite book. Whether it's on paper or screen, whether it's by Rita Mae Brown, or some other well-known lesbian writer, or an obscure, just self-published new talent you found, and you'll discover the same thing – letters made into words, arranged in sentences and paragraphs, all telling a story. The writer's story, one that grew in their mind and imagination until it reached the point where it was share it or choke on it. But not just the writer's story – once you open that book, it's your story too. You'll identify with a character, or several, nod your head over common experiences, laugh and cry with them, think about these characters even after you've put the book down, musing upon them as though they were real people. Instead of just varying and various combinations of twenty six different letters.
People used to sit around campfires of old, telling their stories. Bards would travel the countryside, collecting and telling stories. People recognised themselves and others through stories. Not much has changed over many thousands of years. There has always been an audience for stories. They provide affirmation: this is who we are. They are healing: this is how we triumph. They make us immortal: we will always exist.
Are we entering a golden age of lesbian literature? Instead of having our stories told only by a few brave women, or shared in whispers only in the safest of places, lesbian literature is – thanks both to the Internet, and the greater acceptance of our sexuality in our wider society – accessible, and finally, prolific.
Whether you access lesbian literature via the printed word, ebook, audio book, or online, it's easy to find, and there's more of it all the time. Forgetting about the separate issue of quality, lesbian literature is enjoying a surge of popularity, with new writers telling their stories, and new readers ready and waiting for them.
What is it like to have a voice after all this time? Judging by the amount of lesbian themed books currently about, it's one of the best feelings in the world. There's a lot that can be done with those twenty six letters, and it's gratifying indeed when they spell strong female characters, unashamed to be themselves, not just in their sexuality, but also in their position and attitude towards the society we live in.