From Peter Pan to Pippi Longstocking: Unlikely Literary Lesbians


Before Chely Wright came out. Before Lindsay and Samantha joined forces. Before Jenny Schecter annoyed the bejesus out of everyone, there was a time, my children, when to see your lesbian self reflected in art, you had to use your imagination. (Not that anything Lindsay Lohan has ever done could be considered art. Well, except for that movie where she played twin strippers.)

Growing up, I was a reader. This got me out of some uncomfortable situations (For example, talking to my classmates.) and into some uncomfortable situations (For example, being accused of plagiarism by my teachers.). Overall, reading lifted me from my mundane existence and deposited me in places I hadn’t thought to envision, provided me with possibilities I couldn’t have conceived of on my own. And like many lesbians, I searched my books for representations of others like me. I’m not talking Little Women’s Meg or Harriet the Spy — that’s some amateur shit right there. No, I found lesbians in the unlikeliest places (Note: this is actually the original title of that Rihanna song), and today I’d like to share my findings with you.

Unlikely Literary Lesbians

Olga Sergeyevna Prozorova (Three Sisters): Long-suffering spinster, complains about her job, gets migraines, the grass is greener in Moscow. Drama, drama, drama.

Holden Caufield (Catcher in the Rye): Obsessed with softball, consistently disappointed by loved ones. Representative quote: “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.” I’ve definitely dated her.

Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit): Short, constantly barefoot, loves a good meal, can’t say no to dwarves.

Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Longstocking): Obscure fashion choices, gravity-defying hair, no respect for authority figures. We’ve got a live one!

Stanley Kowalski (Streetcar Named Desire): Stands outside yelling your name. Is threatened by your relationship with your sister. The leather jacket is almost an afterthought.

Marcel (Swann’s Way): Languishes in bed obsessing over unrequited love. Focused on memory to the exclusion of actual, current experience. Enjoys a good Madeline.

Henry Higgins (Pygmalion): Digs that mentor/student dynamic, Only out to change you, Into kinky sex. Evidence: makes you talk with marbles in your mouth.

Salvatore “Sal” Paradise (On the Road): First of all, the name. You know he’s a drag king. Representative quote: “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” In other words? Into bi girls, exclusively.

Peter Pan (Peter Pan): Whimsical headwear? Check. Bitchy ex-girlfriend drama? Check. (I’m looking at you, Tinkerbell.) Representative quote: “I want always to be a little boy and have fun!”

Narrator (Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening): Oh my god, you can’t decide between civilization and nature or possibly you would commit suicide if you didn’t have so many people relying on you? The weight of the world rests on your shoulders. You definitely work at a Women’s Shelter. Buy me a drink?

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