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LGBTQ History #2: Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle

Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown

Published in 1973, Rubyfruit Jungle was written by lesbian activist and writer Rita Mae Brown. The semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel raised eyebrows with its explicit portrayal of lesbianism. It’s filled with stories that mirror so many of our own; family rejection, abandonment, first crushes, gender norms, coming out, and making your way in the world.

Main character Molly Bolt has a hard time fitting in during elementary and early high school. She struggles to find her identity. Surprisingly, she makes friends with the cool kids on campus and even spends a sacrificial year trying to deny her truth by dating the high school football star.

The rest of her life is spent moving from one familiar and dysfunctional—yet comforting—relationship to another. She searches for self-acceptance and the love that escaped her childhood. She wanted to smash the barriers of conformity and sexism of that time, but in 1973, she didn’t have many possibility models.

Rubyfruit Jungle takes you on a ride of drama, heartache, love, tears, laughter and, familiarity. The book is notable for being an early literary lesbian novel.


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