Lesbian Lit: Mean Little deaf Queer
The Gay Community Center of Richmond’s lesbian book club meets the second Monday of every month in the sofa room near the back. We’re a motley crew of retirees and professionals ages twenty to sixty eight that come together to discuss books written by or about lesbians.
The August book was Mean Little deaf Queer by Terry Galloway. This Beacon Press title is available in paperback and hardback and has received great reviews from respected writers Dorothy Allison, Alison Bechdel and Sarah Bird to name a few. Galloway earned a finalist slot in the 2010 Lambda Literary Awards for lesbian biography/memoir. We were not all as excited about it but one member said it was “the best book we’ve read. I loved the story and thought she was a great survivor!”
The first question from that night’s discussion leader, Veronica, was “What IS this book, a memoir, a diary, a harangue, a whine or a testament to achievement?” And thus started the best discussion our little book club had seen to date. I voted for mean whine but most of the group eventually fell on the side of memoir and that was before Vicki told us about the Lambda Literary Awards this year. To Veronica’s 2nd question, the title, Mean Little deaf Queer, is not her attempt to slander herself needlessly; she gives plenty of evidence to prove that she is indeed mean, little “d” deaf and certainly queer. In a brutally honest and direct fashion Galloway describes her meanness in almost every chapter.
My least favorite of all the meanness is in the chapter “Meaner” where, in her quest to be a boy, she teams up with budding playground thugs, the Potter gang, to lure other little girls behind the dumpster for illicit kissing and gross boy behavior. Her chapter “Little-d Deaf” provides more than just a definition of that phrasing; it’s a demonstration of yet another community that Galloway doesn’t fit into, another place she doesn’t belong and isn’t wanted and maybe worse for others. Her queerness is a hot topic in almost every chapter as well; from her clandestine and “feverish” girl-on-girl doll play with Barbie and Midge through her coming out story and her seeming inability to be faithful to any of her “true loves”. There were more questions, Veronica is very thorough, and the discussing our answers went on past the hour and into a post-book club group dinner.
In the end, it was some thing of a split decision: half of us thought she was whiny and mean, Vicki going so far as to say “it was much meaner than I thought it would be” while the other half agreed on the meanness but felt it was due to the terrible circumstances of her disabling illness as a child, was wholly understandable and therefore OK. Fine. But we could all agree on this: Terry Galloway is a very talented writer, an amazing survivor and a brilliant artist with a great future ahead of her.
The September 13th discussion will be on Lipstick’s and Dipstick’s Essential Guide to Lesbian Relationship” By Gina Daggett and Kathy Belge followed by Malinda Lo’s Ash on October 11th.
“Somehow I learned that I belonged with my people and that I had a responsibility to contribute to them.”October 20, 2015
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