I can’t say the first time I saw a Black female couple in the wild. Looking on it, it was probably Queen Latifah’s Cleo and her blonde bombshell girlfriend in Set It Off, a movie I saw and regularly watched when I was way too young, mostly because of the soundtrack. I know: that’s a movie, not real life. I honestly don’t know the earliest I met real people who were Black, female presenting, and in love.
But I can tell you the exact moment I read that same situation, happily ever after included: It was February of 2017, and I had picked up Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon. The book, published by Bold Strokes Books (the most prominent publisher of WLW romance at the moment), is almost criminally short, but Rebekah has a way with novellas. Treasure was everything I didn’t know I was looking for: a sex-positive, happy representation of two young women who were in school and getting shit done. Both had to deal with family stuff of very different natures, and could eventually rely on each other to be a safe space. There is some conflict, but it’s resolved and everyone is satisfied in the end.
As a straight-presenting queer Black woman, reading happy stories of love between queer Black woman is more than wonderful; it’s necessary. To be reminded that even though you have ended up in a partnership with someone who is neither Black nor queer nor female, you are still like these women. You still have community in their community, and they represent who you could have been had one different decision been made. Because windows are great, but mirrors and sliding doors offer some of the best feelings for the soul.
As a ravenous romance reader, I find enjoyment in most kinds of romance. I have my hard limits, like many other readers, but as long as there is consent and a HEA, I’m all for it. But there is a special place in my heart for romance by and about queer Black women. The fact that so many of them are novella length—especially if they are all Black and not interracial—makes me kind of sad, but I’m so happy to read them. Almost as happy as I am to randomly come across a queer Black woman in a relationship like mine. But that’s another conversation.
Some of my favorite romances featuring queer Black women loving each other:
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
This is a novella in the middle of the Reluctant Royals series. Likotsi, friend and advisor to prince Thabiso of Thesolo, hadn’t intended to start a relationship while temporarily in the U.S. on state business, but after meeting Fabiola, everything changed. But after their relationship status suddenly changed, neither woman is sure they can recover from it when they meed again.
Being Hospitable by Meka James
When Charley moves in with her older brother’s friend to be close to an internship, it’s finally time for her to make her move. She’s had a crush on Kiki forever, and will use whatever tools are available to her to make Kiki see her in the same way. The internship is only so long, though, and everything might change if she isn’t offered a job at the end of it.
Neighborly by Katrina Jackson
Unlike the other stories, the two Black women in this story—neighbors who share a bedroom wall—also have their own male significant others. But they can’t help their attraction to each other, and their partners are (for one, eventually) supportive of their pursuit of something, possibly beyond just slaking their lust for each other.
That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole (yes, another one)
Originally published in the anthology Hamilton’s Battalion, this novella is set during the 1820s. Mercy is an assistant and secretary for Eliza Hamilton, and is there to help things along when Andromeda comes in her grandfather’s stead. The two don’t immediately get along; Mercy is wary of the boisterous, forward woman who has invaded her home. But she is also very attracted to her, and that just won’t do.
How criminal is it that these (alongside Treasure) are the ones I can harken having read and loved? There are others, of course, that I know and that I am not familiar with. Katrina Jackson, in particular, has several other romances featuring Black women together. And while I am anxious to pick up a book by Fiona Zedde, they don’t always end up in the HEA I’ve wanted. Alongside those, there are some others I haven’t read, like Femme Tales by Anne Shade and Things Hoped For by Chencia C. Higgins. I’m going to start with this list (inspired by this twitter thread) and go from there.
Black women living and loving is something I adore reading (and writing, on those nonexistent days when I have the time). I look forward to discovering more stories of Black queer romance between women and other people who menstruate.
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