The Lesbian Grandma Romance In “Bingo Love” Will Melt Your Cold, Cold Heart

"Happily-ever-afters aren't just for straight people," says creator Tee Franklin.

Last year we introduced you to Bingo Love, an 88-page graphic novel about a star-crossed romance between two elderly black women.

Since its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, Bingo Love has not only garnered nearly $60,000 in additional funding and generated tons of buzz in the comics industry, it’s also gained a publisher: In October, creator Tee Franklin announced she’d partnered with Image Comics to bring Bingo Love to the masses.

“There’s been so much support, it’s brought tears to my eyes,” Franklin tells NewNowNext, adding that readers have connected with the narrative on an intimate level. “I’ve even had people come out to me at conventions.”

With art by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San, Bingo Love tells the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, two seniors reunited in a bingo hall decades after their forbidden teenage love affair. Hazel and Mari both have have children and grandchildren in their lives, and they must consider their families when deciding whether to come out and finally be together.

It’s a narrative not often seen in popular culture, which is exactly why it’s resonating with readers.

“There are so many books and television shows that treat the LGBT community as props and pawns for their straight main characters,” Franklin says. “I’m tired and fed up with the ’bury the gays’ trope. Queer youth needs to know that they can have a future with the love of their lives, too… So they could know that happily-ever-afters aren’t just for straight people.”

And fan can’t get enough: While Franklin was attending Flame Con, New York’s LGBT comic convention, last August, she sold every copy of Bingo Love she’d brought before the end of the first day. She drove all the way back to New Jersey, filled her car to the brim with more, and sold again the following day.

Bingo Love is already in its second printing, and new copies will hit stores February 14, just in time for Valentine’s Day. (They’re also available for preorder on Amazon). In the meantime, the nearly 2,000 Kickstarter backers who’ve started getting their copies early are posting them proudly on social media.

“It still trips me out that so many people wanted to read about black, queer grandmothers!” Franklin says. “Some fans have actually shared that their own grandmothers are queer, so they bought them Bingo Love.”

I believe that true, well-told stories have the power to change the world for good. I also love a good listicle.