As our beloved heroine Molly begins to grow into adulthood, the reader witnesses the disparity between the character’s internalization of what it means to identify as a homosexual, and how the world around her digests a “queer”. Her teenage years encompass this pivotal conflict as it manifests itself in a confrontation held with nearly every relationship she has established at this time in her life. Brown exemplifies the external forces attempting to define, as well as simplify homosexuality as being distinctly a sexual act or an emotional state. In addition, the author illustrates the thematic concept of a desire to participate in homosexuality while simultaneously removing oneself from the homosexual identity and stigmas through the characterization of Leroy, and Carolyn.
“Sometimes when I hear songs on the radio, I think that’s how I feel about Craig. That scares me a lot more than getting sucked off. What if I’m in love with him for Chris’ sake?” Leroy expresses his concern regarding the emotional investment in his homosexual experience with Craig. This quotation exhibits how Leroy, and many other people coming to understand homosexuality, attempt to compartmentalize and differentiate sex from emotion. Leroy suggests that while he had sex with Craig, if he doesn’t love him, he isn’t queer. This is reinforced when immediately afterwards, Molly says she loved Loeta, and Leroy calls her a queer. In her it-is-what-it-is-attitude, Molly reestablishes the irrelevance of Leroy’s conclusions in regards to his internalization by telling him not to label anything. While Leroy does seem to love Craig, he cannot get passed his fear of judgement and harassment that would be experienced after admitting that he loves another man.
Carolyn reinforces the thematic concept of a desire to participate in homosexuality while rejecting the idea of being a queer when she explains, “No, we just love each other, that’s all. Lesbians look like men and are ugly. We’re not like that.” Carolyn wants to continue being intimate with Molly, however, within the context of believing that she is not a lesbian because she would be placed in the stereotypes of brutish or masculine. She is characterized as being truly interested in women, but too afraid to allow herself to be known as a homosexual.
Brown continues to address questions of identity throughout the continuation of Molly’s life. In particular, this section of the novel highlights how the world attempts to define homosexuality using stereotypes, and the simplification between love and lust. In addition, Brown makes the point to illustrate Molly’s conflict of becoming comfortable with her lesbianism while surrounded by many others who have a homosexual desires but are overcome by a fear of what it means to be labeled as queer.
1.) At what moment does Brown exemplify that Molly has become comfortable with her sexuality?
2.) What do you think the conversation held between Molly and her Father previous to his death signifies?
Rita Mae Brown and Beth Hodges