Bi Author Cynthia Bond Gets Selected by Oprah’s Book Club

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.18.01 PMHer inspiration came from love. Cynthia Bond spent the past 15 years teaching a writing class to at-risk homeless queer youth at the LGBT Center in New York City. Some of the themes and experiences she had while working with the youth made it into her novel Ruby.

The book got chosen as part of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club earlier this year and suddenly her plate is full, and she is getting requests to visit book clubs throughout the world. Originally, she planned to make one book that was 900 pages long, but has since split it up into a trilogy and the success of the first will now assure publication of the rest of the stories. Her book skyrocketed to Number 7 on The New York Times bestseller list in one week after her call from Oprah Winfrey herself.

The story follows Ruby Bell and Ephram Jennings in rural Texas in the 1950s and 1960s, and focuses attention on their love story. There are incidents of sexual and physical violence along the way in the mostly-black town. Ruby is bisexual, but because the relationship is primarily heterosexual, that fact gets missed in many of the rave reviews that have bestowed on Ruby.

Bond said, “My character is bisexual. She’s involved with men and women.”

Ruby’s first love is her cousin Maggie, and she remains in the story throughout the book. She also meets Abby in New York City who becomes her lover. The only sex scene in the book is between two women. Ephram also has a sexual relationship with his best male friend Gubber when he is younger, and gets caught by his father.

There’s a section in the book dealing with the Stonewall era and gay and lesbian clubs of New York City that was inspired by one of her writing teachers for many years, the famous gay writer John Rechy. His book, City of Night, was the inspiration for the sections where the police brutally attacked gays and lesbians at bars in the city.

Ruby gets abused by both men and women throughout her life, and there’s oppressive Christians who at one point try to give an exorcism to a woman who left her family for the “homosexual lifestyle.”

Now Bond is partnered with a woman and they have children together. She is writing a screenplay that is based on Ruby and has been optioned by Oprah Winfrey’s company. She is busier than ever, but remains focused on her family first.

“I’m a mom, I still have to make it to the violin recitals,” she said.

 

Mike Szymanski
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Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]