Wide Open Spaces

Annie Oakley, ooh la la!

These books set on the queer frontier will leave you yearning for a wagon train (or a petticoated damsel) to call your own.

The old days kind of terrify me. No antibiotics, no equality for women, everyone dying in childbirth…but at the same time, they’re kind of fascinating, too. I love it when queer stories are set in the past. There’s just something so freeing about the landscape.

I think it’s because the characters don’t attach many labels to their great loves. They meet someone, they fall for them, and most of the time they have no frame of reference for what’s happening. They’re able to experience the beautiful ride of falling in love without that modern self-evaluation, angst, and coming out journeys that many of us experience today.

Of course, these women have their share of struggles. As if it’s not enough that disaster or infection can strike at any time, there is also danger for them if their relationships are discovered — falling in love is a very risky proposition. Even so, there’s just something so refreshing about the experience of a love story between two women that is set outside of the framework of modern queer culture. Each heroin’s story is that much more thrilling for her innocence, and when they find each other, it truly feels like magic.

Some frontier favorites:

Charity, by Paulette Callen

Life on the South Dakota prairie is hard. People talk; bad things happen; and everyone has scars. But if they can weather the storm, Gustie Roemer and her new friend Jordis just might heal each other. (But I promise it’s not as cheesy as I made it sound).

Backwards to Oregon, by Jae

Okay, so this isn’t beautifully written; it’s your basic romance novel. But the story of Luke, a lesbian who lives disguised as a man, and Nora, the single mother-turned-prostitute she falls in love with, will keep you reading. It’s the Oregon Trail, with lesbians!

We Are Gathered Here, by Micah Perks

This book is so gorgeous, I can’t even write well about it. Friendship, love, and desire aren’t always the separate entities we make them out to be, and there is magic within all of us — even within the claustrophobia of a hardscrabble Appalachian mining town.

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