Now that President Biden and Vice President Harris are in office, I’ve been able to have my first Covid 19 vaccine shot. It was no big deal. I went to our county fairgrounds expecting to be injected through my car window, the way I was tested. I thank my lucky stars the test was negative. I’m grateful to the medical profession that persisted in making tests and vaccines available despite the disinformation and profiteering of our former leaders.
Turned out, the vaccines were administered in the same exhibit building that’s used for our winter farmers’ market, a very familiar and reassuring space. The six-foot tables that usually serve to display crafts or local mushrooms and goat cheeses, were now place markers.
Two representatives of our Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, minus their mounts, stood at the door, masked and chatting with new arrivals. We weren’t exactly an unruly crowd—age seventy-five at the youngest—so there was little for them to do. Once inside, our temperatures were taken, we were sent along to show ID and turn in required paperwork. Some internet averse or disabled people filled out that paperwork on site, assisted by caretakers and community helpers.
One half hour was allotted for each group to be vaccinated. Firefighters led the way to makeshift corrals, maybe twelve foot by twelve foot, and to inadequately distanced folding chairs. No matter, it’s in the nature of groups to group, and people knew each other so there was never a chance some would voluntarily social distance, despite the fact that they were there to prevent dying in a pandemic.
The firefighters then deposited us, one at each end of the tables. I spotted non-gay neighbors in front of me and we cheerfully visited—at a distance. They’ve since invited me to ride with them for our second shots. That could have been fun and memorable, I thought later, especially if we gave one another the virus while enclosed in a car.
Which brought me back to the first inoculation I remember. I was in elementary school when American schoolchildren became guinea pigs for Dr. Salk’s vaccine. We waited on line outside the Flushing, Queens P.S. 20 gymnasium, in enforced quiet, dozens of solemn, worried kids. Personally, I was terrified of being shut inside an iron lung and welcomed the chance to avoid that fate.
The Covid 19 vaccines have emergency authorization; the polio shots were experimental. Some children received the actual inoculation, others a placebo. We filed into the gym and stopped at little stations staffed by who-knew-who. I asked this time, and confirmed that RNs were giving the Covid injections.
As Polio Pioneers, we received pins and certificates (which many of us still have, including me). Mothers of pupils volunteered to comfort us. I lucked out with a mom who put her arms around me and held me close during my ordeal. If I hadn’t already been a dyke, I would have become one from that experience alone—what pain?
The more recent injection was painless. For about two days afterward I couldn’t lift that arm without great discomfort, but as vulnerable elders, we accepted the necessity of inoculation with stoicism. There was a nurse for each row of recipients so those in the back were able to watch for horrendous reactions from the procedure. There were none.
The last corral was the observation room where we waited thirty minutes, in case we needed an epi pen or ambulance. The firefighters roamed among us, smiling and joking with people they knew, checking on us all. Eventually, we crammed together on line to schedule appointments for our second shots.
As a seasoned Polio Pioneer, sixty-odd years later, it strikes me as funny that I felt a little proud, just as I had in grade school, to be part of this mass health effort. There’s a bond now, between my neighbors and myself, that we went through the unknown together, that we believed in the science and the medicine and did our patriotic duty to keep America safe.
Before my observation period ended, I took a seat at one end of a long bench and exchanged greetings with a courageous man perhaps twenty-five years my senior. As I watched the clock, I considered myself lucky, way back when, to have received the real polio vaccine rather than the placebo. In the present, I know I’m lucky to have reached the current vaccine eligibility cutoff age. And lucky to have outlived the willful mismanagement of the Covid 19 pandemic.
The year 2020 wasn’t a total bust except for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who should not have died or have been permanently harmed by Covid 19. In the U.S., many lay those deaths and disablements at the hands of the greedy, power hungry 2020 administration and its followers.
Personally, I’ve been taking inventory of the bad and the good with my sweetheart, and finding some surprises.
Yes, over seventy-four million Americans voted to keep the traitorous officials in office, but eighty-one million plus voted to restore our democracy.
There are arms-bearing fanatics at the gates, but they have served to expose long-entrenched enemies of this country: racism, misogyny, religious zealotry, fear of any kind of difference, from xenophobia to homophobia. I trust many Americans are finally acknowledging these defects in ourselves.
I couldn’t see my family this year, but I can call them without the long distance charges that accrued when I was a kid and my mother dialed her family once a week at low Friday night rates, if no one was on the party line.
To compound that loss, our much-loved niece is sick and in pain from cancer treatments, but the treatments will cure her and then she’s going to treat herself to Disneyland.
We lost our good and gorgeous gray cat Bolo, but we’ve adopted a shelter cat and a foster dog.
A long-term couple, old friends of ours, are no longer together, but are finding their ways.
Our perfect lesbian neighbors are moving away, but now are our fast friends and are trying to find a buyer compatible with us.
We endured colonoscopies, but have clean bills of health.
Covid isolation made me put on the pounds, but I’ve already lost more than I gained.
My sweetheart has a demanding job with long hours, but with her sacrifice, we can afford our goofy, loving cat and dog.
We had to give up feeding seed and suet to the birds when rodents discovered the food source—and our house—but our sugar water feeders were so swarmed by hummingbirds that everyone, from friends to delivery people, delighted in coming to our door. The hummers outnumbered humans enough to relax their shimmery bodies and let us watch them from inches away. Other neighbors provided for the birds we lost.
The roof needs replacing like, last summer, but by staying home we’ve saved enough money to get it done next spring.
Our neighborhood cancelled the monthly potlucks, but I’m no longer exposed to that ridiculous number of homemade desserts.
Speaking of food, the women’s lunch, the Mexican lunch, the men’s breakfast, and worst of all, Butches’ Night Out—all were cancelled in 2020, but have I mentioned my clothes suddenly stopped shrinking?
My county just entered the extreme risk category for COVID, but I know no one who has gotten sick and we tested negative, thanks to our ability to isolate.
A beloved old friend died, but we had one last joyous visit in the mountains around Crater Lake in Oregon before her last decline and her spouse is going to, slowly, be alright.
Top conferences like the Golden Crown Literary Society and Saints and Sinners went virtual. I missed getting together with friends, other readers, and writers, but the popularization of Zoom and Duo and Skype have strangely given us perhaps more in depth encounters than hurried lunches and large group dinners.
Shopping became an infrequent, rushed chore, but impulse buying, useless accumulation, and shopping as fun may help save the planet.
Between the plague and the threat of a Totalitarian state, I feared my time on earth had been shortened, and it still might be, but day to day I’ve had more time than ever to finish a book, start another, be with my sweetheart, and just be.
For me, the word “but” has become synonymous with the word “gratitude,” as in: the 2020 occupier of the White House severely damaged our country and my gratitude to everyone who helped oust him is strong—no buts about it.
This post was originally written in 2017 and has been updated in July 2020.
Amazon: an evil company with a lot of free television for Prime Members! What TV shows with lesbian, bisexual and queer women characters are on Amazon Prime? What a good question you may have typed into your computer browser, looking for queer television program with lesbian storylines! Lesbian bisexual queer TV shows on Amazon Prime! Streaming!
There are more programs available on Amazon for an extra fee as well as add-on channels, this post is just covering the shows that come with your subscription and for which you can watch the entire series on Amazon for free.
Amazon Streaming TV Shows With Lesbian and Bisexual and Queer Characters and Lots of Queer Stuff
One Mississippi (Amazon Original): 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
Tig Notaro’s super-good semi-autobiographical comedy series follows a Los Angeles radio host “Tig Bavaro” as she returns home to Mississippi after a double mastectomy and a C. difficile infection to be with her family when her mother is taken off life support. She moves in with her brother and stepfather and begins learning things about her mother and her home that she never knew. Then she falls for a straight girl played by her real-life girlfriend Stephanie Allynne. It’s really funny and when it got cancelled I was very sad.
Transparent is centered on a Los Angeles based Jewish family who are basically all queer, except for the straight guy who can suck it he’s the worst. Transparent has trans women playing trans women, it has a bisexual Mom who gets kinky with Jiz Lee and has a throuple, it has a twenty-something daughter with a fluid sexuality and gender presentation, it has multiple lesbian trans women, it has Carrie Brownstein playing a bisexual named Syd and Cherry Jones playing, basically, Eileen Myles. It was brilliantly written and it employs more trans and queer folks behind the camera than any show.
Last week we told you about Danger & Eggs and how it’s got queer themes, queer characters, a trans woman co-creator and a cast that includes so many of our favorite humans — Stephanie Beatriz, Jasika Nicole, Angelica Ross, Cameron Esposito, Rhea Butcher, Tyler Ford, Jazz Jennings and Laura Zak. This week could be the week that you find out for yourself why everybody is so excited for Danger & Eggs! I’m also excited, generally speaking, for danger, and also for eggs, scrambled.
Anyone But Me: 3 Seasons, 31 Episodes
photographed by Michael Seto for Anyone But Me
Remember this adorable webseries from 2009-2011 starring Nicole Pacent and Rachael Hip-Flores, Autostraddle’s 2009 Critters of the Year, as two teenagers who fall for each other and have all kinds of self-discovery and also so do their friends? If you do, you’ll be happy to hear it’s on Amazon and if you don’t, well GO WATCH IT.
The Fosters (Freeform): 5 Seasons, 104 Episodes
(ABC Family/Eric McCandless)
The Fosters was lauded for its portrayal of a family headed up by a lesbian couple — Stef (Teri Polo), a cop, and Lena (Sherri Saum), a school administrator. Over the course of the show the story weaves around Stef and Lena as well as their foster and biological children. This includes a foster son who comes out as gay, their daughter Callie dating a transgender boy. A dozen or so other queer characters pop in and out of this sometimes heartwarming and often messy little show.
TV Shows on Amazon With Lesbian and Bisexual and Queer Characters and a Good Amount of Queer Stuff
Humans (Channel 4): 3 Seasons, 24 Episodes
Humans is so good and so underrated why didn’t you all watch Humans when we told you to? Good news there’s still time, gather round for this gripping sci-fi series about a parallel present in which the must-have gadget for any busy family is a “Synth,” basically a robot servant. But what if the robots got sick of being servants! And what if Niska fell in love with a woman!
Hannibal (NBC): 3 Seasons, 39 Episodes
Season Two of this psychological thriller introduced a recurring lesbian character, Margot Verger, who, after a detour into Unfortunate Tropesville, eventually gets a love interest and offspring. You’ll have to endure some cannibalism to get there, though, but isn’t that true about everything, really?
The Good Wife (CBS): 7 Seasons, 156 Episodes
The Good Wife began as a story about the loyal wife of a state’s attorney embroiled in a sex and corruption scandal she was forced to publicly endure. Then it becomes a story about the wife returning to her career as a lawyer, which brings us to her law firm and to her smokin’ hot bisexual investigator Kalinda Sharma. Kalinda appears in 86% of the series episodes and sometimes (!!!!) even has involvements with ladies.
Orphan Black (BBC America): 5 Seasons, 50 Episodes
Photo: Jan Thijs 2013
This science fiction thriller stars Tatiana Maslany as a bunch of clones, including queer Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology Ph.D. student Cosima. She has a scissoring relationship with Delphine Cormier. Honestly every time I write a blurb for this show I end up getting something wrong about it. Did I do okay.
Defiance (SyFy): 3 Seasons, 38 Episodes
Defiance is a dystopian sci-fi series set in (what used to be) St. Louis after a whole bunch of alien wars ravaged and terraformed the entire earth. Now humans and aliens are living together! Kenya Rosewater (played brilliantly by your girl Mia “Jenny Schecter” Kirshner) owns a brothel called Need/Want and during season one she falls for a Castithan noble named Stahma Tarr (played deliciously by your girl Jaime “HG Wells” Murray).
American Horror Story (FX): 8 Seasons, 94 Episodes
Seasons 1-8 are free on Amazon Prime, and Season Two is probably the queerest — that’s the one where Sarah Paulson plays a lesbian reporter trapped in an asylum and forced to undergo conversion therapy while her girlfriend Clea Duvall sits at home waiting to be murdered. Seasons Four and Five are also chock-full of LGBTQ+ characters, ranging from “pretty cool” to “super offensive.” You’ll see!
Counterpart (Starz): 2 Seasons, 20 Episodes
Baldwin, a masculine-of-center lesbian and trained assassin never given the chance to develop a true emotional life or any dreams of her own, a fact laid bare when she’s forced to watch her counterpart, an accomplished classical violinist, die in an alternate dimension. Her story weaves around and connects with the primary storyline in a gripping, dark story that never got its due
Hunters (Amazon Original): 1 Season So Far, 10 Episodes
Three decades after World War II, a group of Jews and allies have set out to find and kill Nazis who are still living, thriving and employed in the United States. FBI Agent Millie Morton is on the case and also she’s a lesbian! Who lives with her hot girlfriend! It’s a sharply stylized series with a winning cast, although its Holocaust flashbacks can be alternately horrifying and problematic.
Joey Soloway’s series based on the book by Chris Kraus brought Roberta Colindrez as Devon into our lives, and the world has not been the same since. Chris (Kathryn Hahn) heads to Marfa for her husband Sylvère’s (Griffin Dunne) fellowship and meets the sponsor, Dick, who she becomes immediately obsessed with. Different characters head up individual episodes, and Devon’s is SURPRISE my favorite.
Season One of Homecoming, based on a Gimlet podcast, starred Julia Roberts as a caseworker for veterans at a live-in transition center for veterans sponsored by a giant corporation with some sinister secret intentions. It’s a watch-in-one-night binge: eerie, intense, winding and worth it. Season Two opens with a new protagonist, played by Janelle Monáe, waking up in a rowboat in the middle of a river. Also, she’s gay.
TV Shows With LGBTQ Women Characters Streaming on Amazon With a Fine Amount of Queer Stuff
Red Oaks (Amazon Original): 3 Seasons, 30 Episodes
Set in a New Jersey country-club in the mid-80s, Red Oaks has a regular character who, following a divorce, starts questioning her sexuality and tentatively wading into the waters of light kissing with other ladies. Judy is played by Jennifer Grey, who you may remember from a little dancing movie set in a Catskills summer resort in the mid-50s in which nobody put baby in a corner.
The Fall: 3 Seasons, 11 Episodes
It’s a dark, quiet, suspenseful-and-creepy-as-hell crime series starring Gillian Anderson as a sexually fluid detective psychologically rattled by a particularly challenging case. She kicks ass and takes names, working alongside an adorable lesbian police constable who unfortunately she does not make out with. Look out for Archie Pangabi playing another queer-ish character, Dr. Tanya Reed Smith.
House: 8 Seasons,
Home Fires (ITV): 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS
Home Fires is a British period television drama about women who come together to make Jam during World War II. Also, lesbians.
American Gothic (CBS): 1 Season, 13 Episodes
American Gothic lasted for one entire season, and included a storyline where a married politician running for Mayor was having an affair with her female campaign manager.
House (Fox): 8 Seasons, 177 Episodes
Olivia Wilde plays gay yet again for us in House ad Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley, a bisexual internist who joins House’s medical team in season three. For most of the series she is dating fellow doctor Dr. Eric Forman (Omar Epps).
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Original), One Season, 8 Episodes
The classic 1975 novel about three schoolgirls who vanish from Appleyard College for Young ladies on Valentine’s Day 1900 has been adapted before — Peter Weir’s 1975 film “certainly picked up on the erotic subtext” of the story, but the new Foxtel series “takes the sexual undercurrents rippling among the residents of Appleyard College and the local townsfolk and makes them a tad more obvious.” According to one writer, “this adaptation is fundamentally about queerness, about how each character discovers, experiences, and reacts to their queerness, and about the consequences of the choices each character makes as a result of their queerness.” YMMV on how much queerness you pick up on.
Vikings (The History Channel): 6 Seasons, 79 Episodes
Viking is a historical drama series inspired by the sagas of Norse hero Viking Ragnar Lothbrok. At some point, shield-maiden Astrid has a romance with legendary shield maiden Lagertha? There is also some death involved in this.
Fleabag (Amazon Prime): 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
In its second season, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s eponymous protagonist confirms her bisexuality while sharing a drink with a lesbian businesswoman played by Kristin Scott Thomas. But you’re gonna watch this show regardless because it’s so good!
Alpha House (Amazon Prime): 2 Seasons, 20 Episodes
Inspired by several fictional Republican Senators who share a Washington DC row-house in this political satire with a long list of revered recurring/guest actors (Wanda Sykes, Amy Sedaris, Cynthia Nixon) and cameos from figures including Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow and Elizabeth Warren. Julie Carrel (Brooke Bloom) is the chief-of-staff for Senator Louis and her girlfriend, Katherine (Natalie Gold) is chief-of staff to a different senator. They eventually get pregnant!
Hanna (Amazon Original): 2 Seasons So Far, 16 Episodes
Hanna lives in a remote Polish forest with her father, the only man she’s ever known. She was part of a CIA program he recruited for, where children’s DNA was enhanced with 3% wolf to form “super-soldiers.” In Season 2 we meet other children from the same program and one of them, Jules, is a lesbian.
Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon Original): 4 Seasons, 40 Episodes
This comedy-drama series was inspired by “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex Drugs and Classical Music,” in which oboist Blair Tindall recounted her professional career in high-profile symphonies. Saffron Burrows plays Cynthia Taylor, a bisexual cellist with The New York Symphony and Gretchen Mol is Nina, a union lawyer who initially hits it off with Cynthia.
TV Shows Streaming on Amazon With a Small-to-Okay Amount of Queer Stuff
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Original): 4 Seasons, 40 Episodes
You’ve really got to pay attention to a lot of high-concept yet often quite absurd alternate history depicting a parallel universe where the Axis powers won World War II and thus Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan are in charge, each taking a piece of the United States for themselves. I can’t even get into the characters, it’s very complicated! A small lesbian storyline arrives in Season Three.
The Expanse (Syfy + Amazon): 4 Seasons, 46 Episodes
The Expanse follows a disparate band of antiheroes as they grapple with a conspiracy that is threatening the fragile future they’re living in a colonized Solar System. Also; being queer is not a big deal in this future! Elizabeth Mitchell plays lesbian character Anna Volovodov, a doctor who leads a small Methodist congregation.
Let Natalie tell you all about this queer love plot: “When Angela Montenegro broke the heart of her art school girlfriend, Roxie, lost her muse and went eight years without publicly displaying her work. Meanwhile, Angela put her classical art training to work at the Jeffersonian Institute in forensic facial reconstruction. But then the exes cross paths after Roxie’s implicated a crime, Montenegro is reminded that the only thing between them that’s changed is time…and once Roxie’s vindicated, the pair share a kiss.” (This is under the “okay amount of gay stuff” because relative to the entire length of the series, there’s not a lot.)
Goliath (Amazon Original): 3 Seasons So Far, 24 Episodes
“Down and out” lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, gets pulled back into the work through some byzantine and unexpected cases, including a TRULY BIZARRE Season Two situation that continues to haunt me. Anyhow, there are some adjacent queer women characters who appear in Seasons One and Three, including Billy’s ex-wife, played by Maria Bello. Nina Arianda’s performance as Patty Solis-Papagian is a genuine delight!
Carnival Row (Amazon Original): One Season So Far, 8 Episodes
This neo-Victorian fantasy-noir finds bands of mythical creatures escaping from their riotous homeland to seek comfort in a city where they are not entirely welcome. Queer model/actress Cara Delevingne plays Vignette Stonemoss, who is pansexual and was involved fellow faerie Tourmaline, although that element of her character earns only the most passing of mentions.
Forever (Amazon Original): One Series, 8 Episodes
Depending on who you ask, this series either contains a TON of gay stuff or barely any gay stuff. If you ask me, for example, I would edge towards the “minimal gay stuff” because none of it is explicit or consummated and I was disappointed by it on multiple levels. However, if you ask Heather, she would say that Forever “explores middle-aged queerness in a way [she’s] never seen before on TV.”
Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (Amazon Original): One Season, 10 Episodes
Sarah and Katie. Where’s the VR game I can play that gets me into THIS scenario?
One episode of this anthology series tells the story of a future policewoman, played by Anna Paquin, sharing headspace with a game designer as both track down violent killers whose existence has enormous consequences.
“We lost a giant today,” tweeted California State Sen. Scott Weiner, who is chairman of the LGBTQ caucus. A giant is exactly what the ninety-five-year-old Phyllis Lyon was, along with her partner Del Martin, who died at age eighty-seven in 2008.
My friend the sailor broke the news to me. She e-mailed, Del and Phyllis made a difference in my life. Yours too? No finer compliment could be given.
I responded: Oh, this hurts. They certainly made a difference for me. I was able to read their creation, “The Ladder,” from age fifteen on. They were role models as a couple and in their activism. Thanks for breaking it to me.”
Yes, with my hair slicked back by my father’s Vitalis, in the hand me downs from a boy across the court, hoping to someday own a pinky ring, and waiting to reach an age when I could frequent the rough and tumble gay bars downtown, my girlfriend Suzy and I spotted the magazine founded by Phyllis and Del.
It was an unthinkable accomplishment then, the production of a periodical about ourselves. We weren’t even old enough to legally buy it. Suzy, the bolder of us, probably took it to the register anyway. Or maybe some other babydyke swiped it, afraid to take it to a cashier, and passed it on, afraid to take it home to Brooklyn or New Jersey where she lived with her parents.
If Suzy and I were afraid to purchase “The Ladder,” I cannot imagine the enormous courage of Del and Phyllis. They gathered material from closeted lesbians, signed their real names to their own writings, and, braver still, approached a printer. I remember the struggle Tee Corinne and I had twenty-five years later, getting our local copy shop to print our self-published works.
Where had this paper miracle come from? Who was behind it? I was a contributor to “The Ladder” before I knew its history. By 1960, the year I first read it, “The Ladder” was on Volume 5. It was published in San Francisco. How had it been distributed to a magazine store in New York? Of course, we were still children and adults ran the world, even our world. We might question and defy authority, but the magazine was a product of adults and whatever magic they supplied to make things work. I was in awe.
Today, “The Ladder” might look like a dinky little magazine. In 1955, when they first achieved this marvel, it must have represented a logistical obstacle course for Del and Phyllis, whose activism consisted of much more than the printed word. Like so many lesbian projects right up to the present day, the work they and their cohorts produced was all volunteer. They risked loss of their jobs, their birth families, their lovers, their homes, their very sanity, to assert the legitimacy of our condemned lives. There was nothing dinky about that magazine, or the men’s equivalent, “One.” Both periodicals were powder kegs fueling what was to become the gay rights movement, a movement that changed government, schools, religious institutions, the military, and the lives of fearful, confused, often self-hating individuals who found our way to fuller lives and healthier psyches.
Phyllis Lyon made a profound difference in my life. It was due to Phyllis that I survived my otherwise unguided, unmodeled teens. It was due to Phyllis I was able to resist the course of conversion therapy (not called that then) my college unofficially required of me. It was due to Phyllis that an outlet existed for my words. It was due to Phyllis and her union with Del that I saw I could commit to a woman I loved and stay for better or worse. It was due to the tenacity and victories of Phyllis Lyon and our other giants that I lived to embrace who I am because she so publicly embraced who she was.
So yes, my sailor friend, let’s just say she made it possible for me to be a very happy, stable, exultantly married woman and published lesbian writer today. I am one of her accomplishments. I hope she was just as proud of me as I’ve always been of her.