We’ve asked each of our first five rights holders to help us write a blog post introducing themselves to you — giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into themselves and their work. Here’s what Nancy Rawles had to say about herself and her novel.
Love Like Gumbo is a coming-of-age story that explores what happens when the needs of an individual clash with the needs of the group. It’s what makes coming out to family such risky business, even in an age when the President supports gay marriage. Being gay (almost always) makes us different from our families in the most personal of ways. Families that are already marginalized due to color or class or religion may feel especially threatened by such a fundamental difference. That’s the case for Grace Broussard, the young lesbian at the center of Love Like Gumbo. Her struggle with forbidden love is certainly not limited to gay people.
I started writing Love Like Gumbo in Japan. I went to Japan (where the group is so important) to understand the United States and our emphasis on the individual. I thought the ideals of individuality and independence were getting in the way of my relationships. I wanted to know what it’s like to live in a place where you always have to consider everyone else. It was good for me to be in a place where nobody worried about being “co-dependent.”
When I nervously came out to my best friend in Sendai, she welcomed the news. It was a chance to divulge a secret of her own. When I grew weary of the taunts from the man who worked besides me, I told him why I wasn’t interested. Much to my surprise, his response was “Wow, the girls must be crazy about you.” Sometimes, there’s acceptance where you least expect it. Other times, there’s unbending rejection from people you count on. I try to remember that it took me a long time to accept my sexuality; I don’t expect acceptance to be automatic. If you had told me when I was young that society would change so much in my lifetime, I never would have believed it.
Read more at the campaign to unglue Love Like Gumbo.