Thinking Queer: Sexuality, Culture, and Education

By Susan Talburt; Shirley R. Steinberg | Go to book overview
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Chapter 11

Choosing Alternatives to the Well
of Loneliness

Rob Linné

I picked up Rubyfruit Jungle from a friend in 1973 and felt the world shift around me. Rita Mae Brown wasn't just a lesbian novelist, and her book wasn't just a reassuring romance. Molly Bolt was a completely new way to imagine myself. Goddamn and Hello, I shouted, and went home to reinvent my imagination again. —Dorothy Allison

Scratch the surface of most coming out narratives and you'll find a story about literacy, about learning how to read between the lines. Many lesbians and gays tell stories of hearing something in a film or reading something in a book that piqued their early interests in things queer. Such thoughts or ideas tend to set the proto-dyke or fag off on a search for other texts or images that might tell her or him more about what queerness is and if it may be possible to embrace the idea rather than always running away from it. For many, the first reading of a queer book or film marks a pivotal turning point in their life histories. Queer fictional characters are the first gays many people come to “know” and they serve as important role models and guides to new ways of being. Books, films, or other media become gateways through which individuals with queer desires enter the social spaces of queer life and culture.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the back cover. The blurb shouted out to me: “A gay coming-of-age tale for the 80's.” I had to have the book, but I couldn't let any one see me buy it in my town, so I stuffed it in my jacket and walked out. I became a thief that day which I'm not that proud of, but it enabled me to become a fag later that summer. 1

I first saw the film Personal Best on cable. When the two women actually kissed I felt like this movie was made for me. I watched it every other time it came on HBO when my parents weren't around.

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