Is there such a thing as too gay? by Rae Theodore (plus a FREE book)

Congratulations to Kris! She’s the winner of this giveaway!

Happy Sunday! Today author Rae Theodore joins us and she’s giving away a copy of her latest book, My Mother Says Drums are for Boys, because she’s awesome like that. Drop a comment in the space below to enter the drawing. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 5.

Good luck!

Recently, I was asked to answer some interview questions for a professional organization that promotes books and literacy. I was supposed to tell a little bit about myself, explain why I became a member of the group and name a book that’s been influential in my life.

I answered the questions in twenty minutes or so and then went back to edit what I had written.

Geez, you sound like a giant lesbian with a capital L-E-Z, I said to myself.

I questioned whether I should go back and de-gay my answers. Remove all references to sturdy shoes and flannel shirts. This wasn’t an LGBT group. Did I need to mention my thirty-year crush on Olivia Newton-John? My obsession with Joan Jett and the mullet I sported circa 1986?

Couldn’t I be “normal” just this one time? Or at least less flannel-y? Or less I’ve-seen-the-Indigo-Girls-in-concert-sixteen-times-y?

And then I remembered why I write what I write. As a young tomboy, I rarely identified with the characters in the books I read, and that has motivated me to tell my life story.

I have a quote taped by my desk that reads: “Be who you needed when you were younger.”

When I was a young, I never read stories about girls who played football with the boys and begged their mothers for sports jerseys and other boy clothes. I never read stories about girls who detested purses and the color pink.

I never read stories about women who married other women, women who wore neckties or women who sometimes got called “sir,” especially when they were shopping for clothes on the wrong side of the department store.

I never read stories about what it would be like to tell your parents that you are G-A-Y.

Or what any of that stuff felt like deep inside.

I had to navigate that territory by myself without a rule book or a map. (Despite what you might have heard, you don’t actually get that fabled lesbian rule book when you come out.)


As a butch lesbian writer, I’ve made it my job to write about lesbian wives and women in ties and the awesomeness of mullets (at least in the 80s) and the like. And that’s what I write about in My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: True Stories for Gender Rebels. All of that plus how I probably would have ended up touring with Joan Jett back in the day if I had not been prohibited from playing the drums in the fourth grade simply because I was a girl.

Back to those interview questions and the book that made a lasting impact, I selected Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle. The novel is a coming-of-age tale of Brown’s youth and her emergence as a lesbian author. I always wished I would have read the book as a young woman. I’m certain my life would have turned out differently if I had.

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Rae Theodore writes about her life as a butch lesbian. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars, Sister Wisdom and Gender Queer: Stories from the Rest of Us. Her first book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, was shortlisted for an award in creative nonfiction by the Golden Crown Literary Society. Rae is the current president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. She lives in Royersford, Pennsylvania, with her wife and cats and is working on a book about love.


  1. The first thing that popped into my mind upon reading this was “Amen!”. You speak for so many of us and said it all in just a few words. I look forward to reading your book.


  2. Great blog! I wanted a guitar. Got a piano 😿. I wanted a saxophone. Got a clarinet 😿😿. Didn’t much matter since I’m tone deaf with no sense of rhythm 🤓🤓! Wanted to play basketball. Alas I’m 5’2” and near-sighted. In my day at my school basketball for girls was half court, guards at opponents end, forwards at scoring end and only the roving forward allowed to cross center line. And you could only bounce the ball twice before passing or shooting. My best/only skill on court? Dribbling of course 🙀🙀. I think I could have actually been a competitor in track but girls weren’t allowed to even step on the track.

    Jeans and flannel? Check. Hate purses and pink (not to mention skirts and dresses)? Check. Shop on wrong side of department store? Check, although I often have to choose the boys department for anything to fit. Get called “sir”? Often, even on the phone.

    So I hear you loud and clear. Your book sounds great! Rock on and don’t de-gay anything!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Boy, did you ever hit the proverbial nail on the head. Growing up in the 50’s and not really knowing anything about being gay and just trying to be true to myself was always a challenge. Always loved cars and everything Boy. My mom didn’t get the little girl she wanted. No dress up or playing with dolls for me!! The book sounds GREAT so please add my name to the hat. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Grew up in a different country, but with the same experiences and emotions. Mom gave me a sewing machine for my 21st birthday… I guess she wanted one last time to straighten me, bless her heart. She used the machine till her death.
    Rock on, Ray the Gay.


  5. Oh man, never de-gay your answers if you can. I think we’ve had enough of moderating ourselves to last a millennium and need to let ourselves shine when we get the chance and the stage to do it. Great article and a loaded topic!


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