“The first day, I stood in the kitchen leaning against the counter watching Annie feed the cats, and I knew I wanted to do that forever.” Has a more lesbian sentence ever been constructed in either tongue or pen?
There’s something so wonderfully anxious and earnest and adolescent about this cover; I think the cover of Annie On My Mind has meant more to me than the book ever did. The lean forward, the forehead touch, the frantic clasping of hands, the ridiculous brick wall, the curtains of hair — I don’t remember where and when I first saw this book, if it was in a library or a bookstore or if I was twelve or thirteen, but I remember exactly how it made me feel. “Oh, that’s me,” my heart and lungs said. “You have to stop walking right now, because you’re on the bookshelf, and you have to take yourself home.”
I knew immediately that I already knew what it was about, that I had to have it, and I knew I couldn’t let anyone know I had it, and that’s exactly what happened. I read it and I reread it and I never talked about it with anyone else.
(“And Annie showed me how ailanthus trees grow under subway and sewer gratings, stretching toward the sun, making shelter in the summer, she said, laughing, for the small dragons that live under the streets.” It really is a wonderful book. And it has a happy ending! How many books about teenaged lesbians published on or before 1982 had happy endings? You should really read this book.)
Here is a place for you to discuss the books that made you catch your breath the first time you saw them. They don’t have to be gay (but I will be very happy if lots of them are) — they don’t even have to be about personal or political identity (but if you want to talk about your social or religious or racial or ethnic or cultural or sexual identity, please feel tremendously free to do so). But the first book you remember seeing or reading where something said helplessly inside your chest “Oh, that’s me. That’s us, that’s us, that’s me, thank God, that’s us.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.