I saw the question “where did you first see a character like you” somewhere recently, though I don’t recall where. It was talking about a queer character in particular, but one series of books not only answers that question for me in terms of queerness, but also in terms of a Pagan character. Circle of Three by Isobel Bird. (The link is to the first book in the series.)
I was so obsessed with these books as a teenager. Unfortunately, I had to buy them in secret because they are all about witches (Wiccans, in particular) and my mom was 100% against anything having to do with witchcraft, even something like a fiction book. This was because I had already expressed a deep interest and love for witchcraft and Paganism, and she didn’t want me reading or watching anything that might further that interest. Not that limiting my exposure did anything to keep me from being interested. (Note to all parents everywhere: if your child is really passionate about something, limiting their exposure to a thing won’t eliminate that passion.) I had seen mention of these books online and so searched that out at my local bookstore.
The books are a series, of course, but I read them completely out of order. I think the entire series was arleady out when I discovered them or it was near completion when I finally got my hands on them. For this reason I didn’t really worry about reading them in order. I just picked and chose the ones that had the most interesting plots to me, or the ones that called to me. So, when I say that I was a couple books in when it was revealed that one of the side characters is lesbian, that doesn’t mean book 3 or 4 of the series. It was more like book…8, maybe? I can’t remember exactly which book Jane came out in. What I do remember is the way Cooper reacted (pretty much like Jane had told her that her parents were divorced) and the fact that they then devoured an entire box of Oreos together. (Fun fact: did you know Oreos are vegan? I love that Bird used Oreos because Cooper is actually vegetarian! You know, thinking about it now this might also be the first time I came across a vegetarian character in a book!)
Reading about Pagans was already thrilling enough, and Kate, Cooper, and Annie quickly became staple parts of my life (I read at least one book a week and then wound up rereading several of them). Then when I found out Jane was gay?? The series became even more important to me.
I was disappointed though that Jane was only a side character. I wanted to see more of her. I wanted to know her story. The story focused on Paganism mainly, and while I was grateful for that and for having Pagan characters to read about I couldn’t help feeling sad that none of the MC’s were queer. It had to be a side character that honestly wasn’t even in the stories very much. While that didn’t take away from my love of the series at all, it did disappoint me a little. I began searching everywhere in the books for mentions of Jane. Unfortunately, that I can recall, she never got another girlfriend (the way Cooper found out Jane is a lesbian is because Jane was upset after having just broke up with her girlfriend). It’s great to have a gay character in books…but it’s also really, really nice to see those gay characters fall in love, have a significant other, and get a happily ever after.
It was shortly after devouring this series that I began to write my own lesbian love stories. Other than the small bits of Jane that I got in the Circle of Three series I had never known another gay/lesbian character to be in a book. So I opened my journal and thought “even if no one else does it, there is a first time for everything, right? I’m going to write this lesbian love story!” And I did. I wrote a story about a girl who vacations in Florida and falls in love with her best friend down there. I wrote that and I never went back to writing straight fiction. I had known since I was 16, sitting on the corner of my bed staring at Britney Spears as she danced around, that I was queer. I’d wanted lesbian stories ever since that moment, and I was never able to find them. So, eventually, I started writing them myself.
If you are interested in reading FREE lesbian short stories, check out my list of the ones I’ve posted here, and stay tuned as a few more FREE lesbian stories are coming out this month. ❤ Happy Pride Month!