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>A Question for the Young Ladies

>When I was in college in the late 70s, two of the things you had to do before you could be an official lesbian were listen to The Changer and the Changed and read Rubyfruit Jungle.

I’m working on a “Second Look” article about Annie on My Mind (25 years old now) and I’m wondering if that book has similarly become a rite of passage. If so, when–high school?

Share your stories, sisters. Yes, possibly for publication.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    >I’m a BUG in my twenties and have only heard of that text in grownup children’s-lit circles.

  2. Melynda Huskey says:

    >During the years I ran a college glbt center (1995-2005), I don’t recall a single young person mentioning Annie on My Mind. We had it in the center library, along with Deliver Us from Evie and a couple others, but none of them circulated much. Curve magazine (then called Deneuve) made the rounds, and there was a brief, small vogue for Macho Sluts.

    Sorry. . .

    Melynda

    The boys all snuck copies of XY Magazine.

  3. >Hmm, I’m not a lesbian but I read that book multiple times when I was in high school (graduated 1990.) Great read!

  4. Anonymous says:

    >I read Annie on My Mind and Am I Blue? in college (~2002) when I was coming out, but I remember seeing Annie on My Mind years earlier on my mother’s desk. Being the kind of kid who read the ingredients of cereal boxes if that was the only text around, I automatically picked it up, read the back, paged through…and put it back down, intrigued but not enough to ask to borrow it. I asked my mom about it recently and she said she and my father had discussed giving it to me as a sort of introductory, “we’re not comfortable just talking about this but we want you to know it’s ok” kind of gesture, but decided against it because they didn’t want to “influence” me. It still resonated in college (more than Rubyfruit Jungle or Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which I also read), though I was old enough to roll my eyes a little at the operatic emotions. I think of it as the first and most accessible lesbian novel I ever read — and the only one (to my knowledge) that my mother read.

    Claire

  5. Alkelda the Gleeful says:

    >I first read Annie on My Mind in library school, when I was studying banned/challenged books in my library ethics class. However, in college, the big thing was for a lesbian who was “out” to give a copy of Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lord, to a young woman to see how the book resonated with her.

  6. Anonymous says:

    >I graduated from high school in 1994, and worked as a Page (shelver) in my local public library from 1992-94. I stole Annie on My Mind and brought it home, too afraid to check it out in front of the staff members. (I returned it later!) It was the first book that truly resonated with me about my identity and I can’t imagine what life would have been like if I hadn’t come across the book. As a librarian, I have recommended it since to lots of teens looking for GLBT books, though some of them feel it is a little dated now. Many of them are reading the “current” GLBT titles like Rainbow Boys and Keeping You a Secret.

    -Olivia

  7. Anonymous says:

    >Hmm. I think one of the things that makes Annie a classic, and that differentiates it from other excellent titles like the Rainbow Boys series, is that it is very much a coming out novel, meeting readers at exactly that point of confusion and isolation and in between-ness. Yet at the same time, it is one of a very few coming out novels that manage to be more love story than “issue” book. Annie on My Mind is the book I would give someone still figuring out or coming to terms with her identity. Rainbow Boys or Far from Xanadu or any number of others are the books I would give someone after that.

    Claire

  8. aunty kant says:

    >i enjoyed _annie on my mind_ as a teenager, but it’s a bit dated.

    it was _tipping the velvet_ which passed around the dyke circles at uni with glee. great book, but not YA.

  9. >Huh–I grew up listening to The Changer and the Changed and encountered Annie on My Mind when one of my (male) housemates loaned me a copy in college. I liked, and like, both the album and the book, but I’m not a lesbian. . . score one against those who believe one’s sexuality can be “influenced.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    >So funny! I read this book after college, “annie on my mind,” in cody’s bookstore, soon after coming out…and I loved it, loved it…

    funny cos it reminded my of my old high school…I mean, this was after college, tho, so it’s past that…funny. it was a great book, though.

    I don’t even know what the changer & the changed is,btw.

  11. Anonymous says:

    >An exceedlingly informal survey of people I know has led me to believe that the mean age for coming out is later women than for men. I get the impression that for most of us Annie was a college read, not a high school one — like going backwards a bit and making up for lost time. Thoughts?

  12. Anonymous says:

    >i’d agree with the above comment. i read annie in college, about the same time i read tipping the velvet. when i came out at 19 i read anything lesbian i could find, from ya to adult fiction to erotica.
    whoever mentioned audre lorde’s zami: oh, yes.

  13. aunty kant says:

    >yes, i agree too. i heard that a formal survey suggested that women tend to come out in the twenties.

    i was out in highschool but there was no hint of any sort of community, so no-one to say “you must read this!”

    there are a couple of nice lesbian coming-out books from australian and NZ that you may not have heard of, roger, like paula boock’s _truth, dare or promise_ and jenny pausacker’s work. they had a similar status to _annie_.

  14. >I read it in college and immediately wished I’d read it in high school. It might have helped me figure some things out earlier. I went to a relatively liberal Catholic school, but a Catholic school nonetheless, and I never felt like I could discuss what I was feeling with any of my friends. It took the freedom of a state college to enable me to explore my sexuality and admit to myself and others that I was a lesbian.

    For comparison, as a fantasy reader, I discovered plenty of books with pagan themes or characters and thus was able to put a name to the discontent I felt with Catholicism and the personal beliefs I was developing at a much early age, so that by the time I graduated high school, I was already a practicing pagan, which I have remained to this day.

    I’m not quite sure how others have discovered gay literature, but I had to go looking for it knowing what I was looking for. It would be nice if books like Annie on my Mind were more present to be discovered serendipitously by the right person.

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