Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Books About Lesbians With Physical Disabilities

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Here you will find books on blind, deaf, lesbians with Multiple Sclerosis, rolling around in wheelchairs (well - not all at once!), as well as some nonfiction readers and textbooks about the overlap of queerness and disability. There's a nice range, despite the limited size of the selection, with romance, mystery, erotica, memoirs and useful nonfiction books featuring variously disabled heroines.

Like so many other niche topics, there aren't that many books about lesbians; as always, recommendations are much appreciated. If a particular problem or disease isn't covered and you want it to be (mental illnesses will be in a separate list), please suggest it - it may be that we just couldn't find anything, or it may be that we didn't think to look for it.

Worth checking out: The "Music of the Soul" series by Erik Schubach is a series of lesbian romances, usually featuring one disabled protagonist and a musical theme. They're suitable for young adults and well reviewed.

In order below: Deaf/Hearing impaired; Blind/Vision impaired; Wheelchairs; Multiple Sclerosis; Cerebral Palsy; Epilsepy, and General Disability nonfiction.

Deafness/ Hearing Impairment



Fiction
A family drama/romance about two teens who are thrown together into a step-family. The story is all over the place, including a whole heap of issues including sexual abuse, family conflicts, the romance, and the deafness of one of the two girls. 

A lesbian teen runaway is sent to a mental hospital in 1963 and becomes close friends with a deaf woman named Anna who teaches her sign language, and gives her the strength to defy the system.

Mandy's a hard partying, successful rock and roll singer, who returns to her home town trying to escape from her life. There, she meets deaf Annabella, and discovers love. Romance/Young Adult.

An anthology of twenty two stories of  explicit erotica involving deaf lesbians, written by a deaf lesbian.


    Nonfiction
    A memoir about growing up hard of hearing and gay. A funny, bitter sort of story about a woman who started losing her vision and hearing at nine years old.

    Two anthologies of essays, interviews, poems and so on from a wide variety of gay, lesbian, intersexed, bisexual, transgender people from around the world. The second anthology has a lot more diversity but the first one was groundbreaking and is still worth reading.

    Blindness and Vision Impairment

    Fiction
    • Blind Curves by Diane Anderson-Minshall & Jacob Anderson-Minshall
    A murder mystery series featuring the Blind Eye Detective Agency; lesbian Yoshi Yakamota of the failing eyesight, and her paraplegic fellow detective, Bud.

    Tall dark and butch detective Erik pairs up with a blind, blonde therapist in a quest to find Erik's missing cousin. Predictable but enjoyable mystery-romance.
    A psychological horror about religious fanaticism and kidnapping. Leila is a lesbian with keratasis who is kidnapped by a mentally ill man obsessed with 'curing' her of her sin. While the story may not be for everyone, and opinion of the quality varies widely, the author does a good job of presenting the story from the mostly-blind heroine's point of view. So to speak.

      Nonfiction
      A memoir about a lesbian woman's travels across the American Southwest with her partner and guide dog, as she slowly loses her sight.


        Wheelchair-using heroines

        A short story about two girls, one in a wheelchair, who connect online, meet up and discover love. Romance/ erotica.

        A thriller/mystery series following the cases of the intimidating, wheelchair bound detective Hanne Wilhelmsen.
        This best selling series was originally published in Norway, by one of its most successful crime writers, and only recently translated for the English speaking market. 
        Complete Series (Norwegian & English editions) 
          • Blind gudinne (1993);  Blind Goddess (2012)
          • Salige er de som tørster  (1994); Blessed Are Those Who Thirst (2012)
          • Demonens død (1995); Death of the Demon (n/a)
          • Løvens gap (co-authored with Berit Reiss-Andersen) (1997); The Lion's Mouth (n/a)
          • Død joker (1999); Dead Joker (n/a)
          • Uten ekko (co-authored with Berit Reiss-Andersen) (2000); Without Echo (n/a)
          • Sannheten bortenfor (2003); The Truth Beyond (n/a)
          • 1222 (2007, 2011)

        Multiple Sclerosis

        A screenplay adaptation of a medical drama lesbian romance, this fun book follows the relationship of Becky, invited to live with her online girlfriend, and desperate to get her screenplays produced before Multiple Sclerosis disables her completely. So desperate that she's happy to keep a few secrets from her girlfriend... of course, it turns out that they've both got secrets. 
        The third book in the Aud Torvingsen trilogy, though it reads fine as a stand alone book, this romance-mystery story alternates between the tall blonde ex-police woman taking a self defence class for women and tracking down sabotage at a local film set. At the film set she falls for the cook/ ex-stunt woman, who is diagnosed with MS during the book.
        The author also suffers from MS, but didn't intentionally write it into her character and decided not to continue with the series partly because she didn't wish to write about a relationship with someone with MS.
        A humorous story of an activist lesbian diagnosed with MS, mixing dreamy surrealism with focused realism. Mixing sleep and waking life, and the importance of sleep to the character, this is a short but delightful story and brings in plenty of detail about living with it, from tiredness and money trouble to dream-sex. The author also has MS.


        Cerebral Palsy


        A charming romance about a shy computer programmer with CP and the completely different (athletic, outgoing and competitive) woman she falls in love with.


        Tourette's Syndrome

        A romance between a girl with Tourette's who has been bullied all her life, and discovers college is more of the same. She is rescued by the rebellious Vee, and embarks on an emotional romance. 


        Burn Scars
        • Karaoke Queen by Erik Schubach
        • Another romance in the "Music of the Soul" series, this story follows the rivalry, respect and then romance between two Karaoke singers. The protagonist, Skylar, has severe burns and emotional trauma. 


        Epilepsy



        A fictional biography of a woman with epilepsy, strongly based on the author's life, this book tends to come up in searches but is not about a lesbian character. However, her best friend is lesbian and comes out about halfway through the book, and plays a role, along with her girlfriend, in the main character's life from then on. Despite obviously having a major role in Mischa's life, her few friends and family don't get much screen time, and that is mostly in the context of her epilepsy.

        It's worth mentioning here because
        • it insists on coming up in Amazon searches so is likely to confuse people, as it did me, 
        • it does give a very thorough insight into a woman living with epilepsy, and there aren't any 'real' books about lesbians with epilepsy out there.
        • there are supporting lesbian characters that are treated as real, decent people (which is probably why the Amazon search function pulled it up).
        Most of the focus is intensely on the main character and her epilepsy, in a fast forward recounting of her life, against a fairly dry, yet oddly fascinating background of Latino parentage, escaping Chile, growing up in America, college, working in the Human Rights fields, going to South America to work as an editor and interacting with the war and human rights journalists (including recountings of some absolute horror stories, such as Rwanda), college in the UK and finally ending up a bureaucrat in Washington DC, and married with a baby on the way. It ends with a meta sort of twist that's both sweet, adds another perspective to the story and an incredibly forced coincidence in a book that hasn't shown any signs of being surreal or fantasy up to that point.

        For much of the book, Mischa is almost asexual or demisexual, though this may simply be the writing style that refuses to divulge any sexual feelings; we hear of romantic crushes and involvements, but not until she actually marries, do we actually realise she is attracted to men at all.

        General Disability: Nonfiction


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          5 comments:

          1. Hi! Thanks for the guide, I'm looking forward to checking some of these out. You might want to avoid the expression "wheelchair-bound", however. The wheelchair is something that gives us freedom, and many of us prefer the expression "wheelchair-user", which also sounds less passive.

            ReplyDelete
            Replies
            1. Thank you! Changing it now (It's a bit tricky doing some of these lists when they're areas we aren't that familiar with - we much appreciate people pointing things out for us!)

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          2. Five Feet or Less features a woman who uses a wheelchair.

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          3. I simply LOVE this list and will be reading a couple I have missed in my searches. I believe that what we view as our greatest weakness often proves to be our greatest strength. The strong women in all these books you have listed are proof of that.

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          4. Silence Out Loud by Geonn Cannon has a deaf primary character. It's available for review anytime.

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