Today is the last day of Pride Month. Did you read a book or poems or anything by an LGBTQ writer?
I had planned to read James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (1956), but June ended up being a wonderfully crazy-busy month for me. I will read it later this summer for sure.
The first queer book I ever read was Rita Mae Brown’s Sudden Death (1983). I was 18 and in the Marines. It was pre- Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and a friend loaned it to me.
She slipped into my room and handed it over like black market contraband. I kept it locked away in the barracks when I wasn’t home. Couldn’t risk anyone finding it. Witch hunts were real and a bad conduct discharge was the consequence for being outed.
Sudden Death is a drama about a woman in a relationship with a world famous tennis champion. It is supposedly based on Brown’s real-life relationship with Martina Navratilova. It was a good read, not something I could necessarily relate to, but reading a book with lesbian characters who weren’t evil or vile was such a thrill.
The second book I read by Rita Mae Brown was a blast of fresh air: Rubyfruit Jungle. The novel is a Bildungsroman and was quite influential for its depiction of lesbian life when it was published in 1973. I remember loving it but now couldn’t tell you a thing about it.
I’ve had thoughts of re-reading it, but might just let the glow of the past continue to warm my heart whenever I run across a copy.