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Chances are, if you’re someone who even spends one day a week on tumblr, you probably know what I’m about to talk about. But I’ll try to do it with a little more grace than “OMG HOLLSTEIN.” I am not a fangirl, at least not the screeching kind. I’ll leave that to Emily (who totally has posted that exact phrase before, by the by). Morgan gave me a little help with this one since she’s the book nut. I keep trying to convince her to get her own blog because girls–I mean, people–go crazy for a bookworm.

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Anyway. The lesbian vampire trope is about as old as vampires themselves. Mainly because a lesbian vampire was basically our first vampire. Sure, Polidori’s (not Lord Byron’s) The Vampyre was the first prose edition of this folk monster, but most of the shit we think and believe about vampires came from another novel that predated good old Drac by a solid 26 years. I’m talking, of course, about the Sappho of our time: Carmilla. The 19th and 20th century’s ultimate symbol for how gay could you possibly get. Like seriously. This chick does not keep her hands to herself and she’s reciting corny poetry at our protagonist–Laura–every five seconds.

Gaaaaay.

But anyway, this novel is responsible for some tropes. Some good, some not so good. First of all, our idea that vampires are people of nobility (counts and shit) comes from this, where Countess Karnstein is our vampire. Second, shapeshifting abilities also come from this, in this case it’s a big old black cat and not a bat, but it originated here. Vampire thrall also comes from Carmilla’s hold over Laura and so does the fixation of vampires as an Eastern European species. Some not great things that come from it? Well the predatory lesbian stereotype certainly isn’t fought against here.

From a modern lens, it’s easier to see Carmilla’s somewhat pure obsession with Laura. But to Victorians this would have been positively repulsive. What isn’t repulsive to them? Vampires went from being a folk fear about the dangers of the wilderness to the ultimate symbol of sinful, taboo temptation. Kinky.

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As you all probably know, there’s some little webseries, somewhere, about this novel. In true Millennial fashion it’s set in a modern day college dorm and is told in the form of vlogs. But it works. Like really works. And, like Faking It, is pretty damn representative when it comes to the queer population. Sure, the only real orientations shown so far on this show are lesbian and straight boys (can we get a bi in here somewhere??) but there’s a non-binary character and no one makes a fuss about the plethora of lesbians running all over this campus. Also, it’s not a coming out story, which is rad.

Another, less exciting, example of this was James Franco’s (gag) remake of Mother May I Flirt With Danger. I tried to get Morgan to watch it with me. You can guess how that went. It was a nifty idea and totally plays on how vampires are basically queer by definition but it was also a James Franco creation–and conveniently ignored the history of Carmilla in favor of Dracula. Bleh.

Anyway, if any baby gays out there need to be directed to watch some shit, Carmilla is slowly becoming one of the many pieces of media in the lesbian right of passage canon. So go watch it, it’s free on YouTube and very bingeable. Watch Franco’s dumb movie too, if you want.

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