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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Proclamations of the Red Queen

18th March 2009

Lesbian Vampires: Deadly, Powerful and Invincible Women

Posted by: Craig Young

I got an email from someone who noted that while gay male zombies are the monster du jour in LGBT horror these days, lesbian vampire stories predate them, and have far greater audiences than undeadgayboys do.

True. It’s been that way since Sheridan Le Fanu first wrote about the beautiful and seductive Carmilla Karnstein, subject of a whole slew of lesbian vampire movies in the sixties. At first, lesbian feminist response to all of these sapphic sanguineuses was to snort derisively about all the sexist cheesecake. However, after the feminist sexuality debates of the eighties, they took a closer look at lesbian vampire films and realised that hey, if these powerful lesbian icons were causing susceptible straight women to deviate from the straight and narrow-minded through their very presence, and straight men were terrified of them, then they must be doing something very right indeed. Not all movies ended with the relegation of the lesbian vampire to her coffin, or with a stake to the heart, in fact.

With this re-evaluation, lesbian vampire stories started to batwing their way out of the closet and into an independent movie (Because the Dawn) and two Cleis Press anthologies, Daughters of Darkness and Dark Angels. As for television, things have been somewhat sparser- apart from the memorable alternate-universe bisexual Vamp Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who prefigured the character’s turn toward lesbianism and wicca later in the series.

As for contemporary alternative┬ávampire fiction, Anne Rice and Poppy Z.Brite wrote some memorable homoerotic and gay male protagonists while working in the genre, and Nancy Collins’ Sonja Blue is a self-assured and powerful female vampire protagonist (albeit heterosexual), but there don’t seem to be any powerful lesbian vampire characters out there in horror fiction- not even in the work of lesbian horror author Caitlin Kiernan, one of the leading lights of the genre at present- although some might argue that she’d never do anything so cliched, given the strong originality of her work. In the case of David Wellington, while he’s written a remarakble series about┬ácaptivating lesbian vampire hunter, Laura Caxton, he hasn’t fully explored what might happen if she came face to face with one of her iconic counterparts.

It’s time that someone came out and came up with a new example of the immortal sisterhood in question. The trope is too powerful to remain in its literary coffin for long, and needs some new blood if it is to rise and mesmerise new generations of susceptible readers…

Tags: General

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