18 Classics of LGBTQ Literature

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Rubyfruit Jungle cover (Image via VT: Daughters)

8. Rubyfruit Jungle

Some novels in this list are the result of an emerging tradition of LGBTQ literature. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s also encouraging to see such a corps of work arising, despite centuries of homophobic cultures working to topple such novels.

But some books here were created in far less friendly environments. The Price of Salt was one – remember, Patricia Highsmith chose to use a pseudonym. Rubyfruit Jungle is another. Though Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 book was published after quite a few other books on this list, it is still an important coming of age classic in LGBTQ literature.

Molly Bolt, like many other protagonists here, has a difficult early life. Her mother proclaims that Molly is not her daughter, but is, in fact, a “bastard”. Her adopted family is poor and often unfriendly to Molly.

Despite this, she has a clear sense of who she is, and is aware of her attraction to other girls at an early age – her first encounter with another girl takes place in the sixth grade. She also excels academically, to the point where she earns a full scholarship to the University of Florida. However, when her relationship with her roommate is revealed, Molly’s scholarship is revoked. She travels to New York City to begin work in filmmaking, though she begins to wonder if the “rubyfruit”.

Though Brown maintains that her work isn’t a foundational text of LGBTQ literature, others disagree. Certainly, it was a remarkable book to be published in the early 1970s. Molly accepts her sexuality without much questioning, though she does have a lot to say about marriage, gender roles, and society that make up many conversations taking place today in LGBTQ communities.

Says, Molly near the end of the novel, “Damn, I wished the world would let me be myself.”