Originally published in 1995 by DC, Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby is a pioneering graphic novel that explores the relationships and politics surrounding race, sex, and identity in the African-American and LGBTQ communities in the Jim Crow south. In July First Second Books will publish a new edition that will mark its 25th anniversary. Set in the fictional town of Clayfield, a stand-in for Birmingham, Ala., where Cruse went to college. Stuck Rubber Baby is the story of Toland Polk, a closeted young white gay man struggling to understand his sexuality in a town that is as viciously homophobic as it is brutally racist. The book is partially based on Cruse’s experiences growing up in the 1950s/1960s south and is notable for its portrayal of Polk’s close relationships with members of the black community—queer and straight—during some of the most dangerous years of the Civil Rights Movement. In this 9-page excerpt Polk and his friends plan a visit to the Melody Motel, a secret meeting point for socializing (and political organizing) among local integrationist whites and blacks, as well as local straight and queer communities.