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Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the Southby E. Patrick Johnson
Synopses & Reviews
Giving voice to a population rarely acknowledged in writings about the South, "Sweet Tea" collects life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the southern United States. E. Patrick Johnson challenges stereotypes of the South as "backward" or "repressive," suggesting that these men draw upon the performance of "southernness"--politeness, coded speech, and religiosity, for example--to legitimate themselves as members of both southern and black cultures. At the same time, Johnson argues, they deploy those same codes to establish and build friendship networks and to find sexual partners and life partners.
Traveling to every southern state, Johnson conducted interviews with more than seventy black gay men between the ages of 19 and 93. The voices collected here dispute the idea that gay subcultures flourish primarily in northern, secular, urban areas. In addition to filling a gap in the sexual history of the South, "Sweet Tea" offers a window into the ways that black gay men negotiate their sexual and racial identities with their southern cultural and religious identities. The narratives also reveal how they build and maintain community in many spaces and activities, some of which may appear to be antigay. Ultimately, "Sweet Tea" validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.
Giving voice to a population too rarely acknowledged, Sweet Tea collects more than sixty life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the South. E. Patrick Johnson challenges stereotypes of the South as "backward" or "repressive" and offers a window into the ways black gay men negotiate their identities, build community, maintain friendship networks, and find sexual and life partners--often in spaces and activities that appear to be antigay. Sweet Tea validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.
About the Author
E. Patrick Johnson is Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2010.
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Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General