Why LGBT Erotica Novels Are an Important Part of Exploring Sexuality
We’re all familiar with lesbian porn. The majority of it is produced with straight men in mind and is therefore designed to live up to their fantasy rather than our reality.
I’ll be honest. I haven’t watched a whole lot of porn, lesbian or otherwise, for a long time — in part because of the aforementioned reason, but also because I’m just more inclined to read my porn.
Romance novels have always been one of the bestselling genres, and it’s for a reason.
I was a teenager when Twilight was trendy. I’m not too proud to admit that I read the books and even somewhat enjoyed them (I had a crush on Alice). But, more significant than my lapse in literary taste was that it led me to the world of fan fiction (this was when smutty fan fics were still referred to as “lemons,” the reason behind which I have literally no idea). So I naturally fell into reading smut instead of watching it.
But mostly, I read porn because (especially with fan fiction) I’m represented there, and I’m often being represented by other people who are like me. In those cases, what I’m reading feels real and plausible, and I’m as turned on by good writing as I am the scenarios being described.
Within the scope of fan fiction and literotica, there is far more inclusion of all genders, sexualities and subcategories. In a way, there is more representation for those who rarely see themselves in other forms of media. With places like FanFiction and Archive of Our Own, authors who care to take pre-existing characters and gender-bend or change their sexuality are not only accepted, they’re celebrated.
The literary world has given us many fantastically layered characters, and yet neglected to put them in situations that people in the LGBTQ community can relate to. By taking already existing characters and bending them, it is the ultimate equalizer. When it comes to erotic content, these characters earn an extra layer in every fan’s mind as they are finally paired with people who represent all people.
Erotica in particular is quite a powerful equalizer because anyone can contribute to it. With porn, there are caveats. You have to have consent from the participants; they have to be filmed; the lighting has to be good; the editing has to be concise enough to get the point but long enough to keep the watcher interested. There are a lot of hoops to jump through. One of the best parts about erotic literature is the instant gratification. You don’t have to cast anyone. You don’t have to pay any crew members. You can make it exactly as you want it.
There is a quick journey from mind to pencil, so for those being underrepresented, the writings of tried-and-true authors are often what we can cling to. Even if they revamp characters or bring their own to the table, these authors live with utter authenticity. The feelings of lust and love are as real as possible because there’s no acting, no pretending. These characters can be as real or detached as the reader wishes them to be.
Beyond all of this, these authors are bringing pleasure, not just in the form of eroticism, but also in the form of literary enjoyment. They serve as a perfect stepping stone for those just discovering their sexuality or perhaps even those on the verge of discovering exactly what they like in terms of a sexual relationship. These stories are comforters. They show people that anything is possible, that nothing is abnormal.
The list of erotica below contains only novels because it’s been so long since I’ve actually sat down to read anything and I keep track of books on Goodreads but have no way of remembering fan fic I’ve read. Some of these have a great plot as well as engaging sex scenes, so it depends on what you’re into.
Starting from Scratch — Georgia Beers
This was the first actual novel (with sex scenes) that I read; previously, I’d just been reading fan fiction, so this book has a special place in my heart. It’s got a great story and it’s super-sexy and the best part is that the cover is so subtle, you can read it anywhere.
There’s a review on Goodreads that summarizes my feelings about this book perfectly. “Cute and fluffy. I’m rather enjoying lately reading books about lesbians who are adults. No coming out stories necessary. Instead, they’re just regular stories about meeting someone and falling in love. They’re sweet and worth the few hours it takes to read them, if only to remind myself that when we get stories that don’t treat us as 'other,' they can be wonderfully boring in their normalcy.”
Reading a story about queer characters that doesn't revolve around coming out is refreshing. While coming-out stories are important, there is more to a queer person’s life than that one event.
Popcorn Love — K.L. Hughes
This one’s a double whammy — fan fic that got published, and I don’t mean like when Fifty Shades of Grey got published and it gave fan fiction a bad name for eternity. This story is fun and sexy and was originally a SwanQueen (of which I’m an avid 'shipper) fan fic, so it really ticks all the boxes.
It takes us through the main character, Elena, going on a bunch of blind dates even though she’s obviously into the babysitter, Allison. It’s a wholesome story with some very steamy scenes; you won’t want to put this one down.
Sweet and Rough — Sinclair Sexsmith
This one has something for everyone, with 16 erotica stories covering a range of preferences. The stories are all written from prompts taken from Sinclair’s blog, so they are literally the stories that readers asked for. There’s dapper dates, femmes in pretty dresses, flogging, bondage, flirting on the subway, bold moves, strap-ons... and I started typing this list with the L Word theme song in my head.
Sinclair is an adamant believer that sex and politics are linked, especially in queer circles, and this shines in their writing without being on the nose. Sexsmith is a very popular queer erotica writer, so take a look at some of their other work.