Friday, January 7, 2011

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

I just finished one of the most incredible graphic novels I've read. I hadn't heard of Stuck Rubber Baby or Howard Cruse until about a year ago when it appeared on some list that I read of lgbt literature. I thought, "hey an lgbt graphic novel! Sounds good!" So I got it, not knowing much about it. I knew that it dealt with issues of racism as well, but aside from that, not much else. In the introduction, written by Tony Kushner, author of the play Angels in America, I learned that Howard Cruse is a huge name in the world of lgbt comics. He's written a series called Wendel that appeared in The Advocate for quite a while and it's something that I desperately want to read! He spent four years working on Stuck Rubber Baby and all of that effort and time shows. Stuck Rubber Baby takes place during the Civil Rights movement and centers around a young white man named Toland who is struggling with his sexuality while at the same time submersing himself in the fight for equality for his black friends. Toland finds himself submerged in the civil rights movement and soon enough also submerged in the gay movement as well. Though he continues to deny that he is gay. What he finds is that minority culture provides support and acceptance but it's him who's unable to give that same acceptance to himself. As you can imagine, this is a painful book. It's not light in the least bit. It jumps right into the heart of bigotry, racism at it's worst, homophobia at it's worst, hate crimes, doesn't ignore anything that actually happened. It also looks at the hearts of the individuals who suffered these crimes. But on the flip side, there is the absolute beauty of people coming together and supporting each other. The "good guys" in this book...oh how I loved every one of them so damn much. It's like an entertaining history book really that doesn't edit history. Tells it how it really was from someone who lived it. Howard Cruse does point out in the afterword that it IS a work of fiction but it's written by someone who is gay and did live through the civil rights movement. I so wish that this book was better known and that more people read it. I wish it was as well known as Maus for instance...because I think it's just as important as that graphic novel is. Yeah...second book of the year and I can already see it being a favorite!

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