It’s always the season for love, but now even more so.
When I was a child my family was spread all across Germany, forced to scatter by the war, and only at Christmas could those of us who were left gather together. So over those wonderful few days every year, we’d spend our time in each other’s company singing Christmas carols, eating special Christmas cakes (my grandmother’s pfefferkuchen, and her homemade marzipan!), and getting to know each other again. Of course, we went to church at midnight on Christmas Eve, and we found the beautiful lights and crowds of the season so exciting, but most of all, we loved being together. To this day, Christmas has always been a family time for me, with “LOVE” written in big letters.
Pull on the thread of those early memories and I find it deeply entwined with my novels and my choices about what to write. As a youngster I read constantly, starting with Gone with the Wind (in German, of course) and then thousands of books more, but there was never a lesbian couple or a lesbian character I could identify with. Or, if there was a lesbian character, she was bound to die tragically, or to be unhappy until the end of her life, never to find love and understanding, never to discover a woman to live with and love. Sometimes the lesbian characters in those early books even ended up being labeled “mad” and sent to psychiatric asylums. What a conundrum for me! With whom should I identify, I, a young woman seeking love and understanding, seeking sex with other women, seeking a life with women? I couldn’t believe that my only options were to be unhappy or alone for my whole life, or to end up confined in an institution, or dead before my time.
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