In my early twenties, night after sweaty night, I had the most erotic dreams about a then-popular actress named Joanna Pettit. I woke aroused and unnerved. Being a gun-toting, Reagan-voting, heterosexual I didn’t dare mention my nocturnal dalliance with another woman. But I surreptitiously started reading The Well of Loneliness. I don’t remember much about it other than it was grim, yet it must have made me want to know more about “those type of women” because the next book I snuck out of the library was Claire Morgan’s The Price of Salt.
Mind you, this wasn’t long after the Stonewall Riots and well before the rise of LGBT stores and the Internet. These were the avowed classics of lesbian culture. Then Rubyfruit Jungle came along and shattered the pathetic mythos of lesbianism. Rita Mae Brown’s character was funny. She was out. A rebel who swore, “to absolute hell with the world and anyone who doesn’t like me the way I am.” And got away with it! Rubyfruit Jungle was the first piece of modern literature to bring joy to lesbianism.
Soon after reading Rubyfruit I stopped dreaming about that actress. I left my boyfriend and found the guts to have an affair with a woman. Today I’ve been married to the same woman for almost 22 years. Like Brown, I write novels. Not funny, like Rubyfruit, but my goal is the same - to inspire anyone who feels different, or other than, to walk their own path. I don’t know if I’d have walked mine without Rubyfruit.
Baxter Clare Trautman
Causes Baxter Trautman Supports
Animal Rescue Site
Lambda Literary Foundation