How to spot lesbians in literature & folklore? Start with the girl who’s cagey about her origins, whose inventors may have taken tabula rasa too far. While Cindy & Snow trash-talk their stepmothers constantly & Red reminisces about her recently departed gran, this girl steers clear of family chatter. “Are we having a counseling session or a poker game?” she asks, shuffling the deck. She’s good at five card stud, but she’s downright genius at deflection. Here, at the slumber party, Gretel’s dad wants to know who all is staying over. “Well, there’s Aurora Nightingale,” Gretel says, gesturing to the girl already curled up in her sleeping bag. “She’s not on drugs or anything. She just always passes out by 10 PM...And this is Belle Bream. We have AP English together, & she’s a classic bad influence, always pressuring me to go to the library.” Belle smiles shyly, then resumes reading her ragged copy of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. “Rapunzel Saperstein is, of course, my vainest friend.” She looks up just then from braiding her hair. “Hey, no fair! You know when I finish growing this out I’m donating it all to Locks of Love.” They laugh with the ease of girls who once punched two straws in the same Capri Sun every day in the cafeteria. “Oh, & this is Platinum—she’s a transfer student.” Gretel’s dad waves from the doorway. “I don’t think I’ve heard Gretel mention you before. Platinum what?” She’s dealing now, card after card. “Oh, I just go by my first name, like Beyoncé.” He rocks a little on his heels. “Well, did your parents name you Platinum ‘cause that’s not a name I’ve heard—” God, who are these dads who are always trying to be their daughters’ best friends? “You got me. I guess I’m more like P!nk.” God, who are these kids who can never give you a straight answer? “So your given name’s Alecia then?” Look how smug he is about his latest Google search. “Yeah, but you can just call me Platinum.” Gretel’s dad nods, sighs. “Well, may all your albums go platinum then.” Whatever, dude. She flashes him a peace sign, & eventually, he leaves. Later that night, the girls will play Two Truths & a Lie, & Platinum will win every round just by wearing her poker face: “I grew up in the Smokey Mountains near Gatlinburg, I’ve been arrested for breaking & entering before, & the ‘rents have no idea where I am right now.” She leads with the lie, & when it’s time for the big reveal, she shrugs, stays cryptic, cool: “It was all just a stupid misunderstanding. Charges were dropped the next day” & “Technically, they think I’m helping a friend with a project, but you all are beyond help.” Do it: flash the smile, force the laugh. Poker face works best with variation. Platinum doesn’t want to talk about the threat of reparative therapy always hanging over her head. That’s the stuff of after-school specials, & she doesn’t play that way. She’ll never confide in these girls that she crashes on the beach & showers at the pool before class. If she doesn’t say “They threw me out once they figured me out,” she can pretend she chooses to live this way—one Wawa coffee & dumpster dive at a time. “Things used to be really hard with my dad,” Gretel is saying when she tunes back in. “My brother & I even ran away for a while. It was a whole thing. But then he divorced our stepmom, & he’s been pretty chill ever since.” The lesbian knows best how to change a subject. “Did anybody think to bring hair dye?” she asks. “Oooh, what are we doing?” Rapunzel exclaims, instantly perking up. “I can’t dye mine because, well, it’s perfect, but I would love to help someone else dye hers.” Belle blushes & admits she might be up for highlights. “Nothing too extreme, though—just a little splash of color.” Rapunzel swings her braid so hard it tangles with the fan. “And Platinum, are we staying platinum or...” She bites her lip, mulls it over, weighing the consequence of going big over going the one place she absolutely can’t. “Let’s do pink. I think I could rock some pink hair.” The other girls applaud, & even Aurora stirs. “You know what else you could rock?” Gretel says, leaning in—“my brother Hansel’s world! Seriously, he’s a human knot. He needs someone to loosen him up.” The lesbian, perhaps better than anyone, knows how to play along. “Yeah, sure, tell him to text me sometime.” Right now she’s using a burner phone: 30 days, no trace, & then it’s trash.
“Who is Goldilocks?”