MultiSession Queer Souths, Part 5: Tales from the Queer South: Desire, Identity, and Community

AHA Session 168
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 10
Saturday, January 5, 2013: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Chamber Ballroom II (Roosevelt New Orleans)
John Howard, King's College London
New Orleans and the Wider World
Colin R. Johnson, Indiana University Bloomington

Session Abstract

Beyond simply challenging metronormative presumptions that LGBTQ lives are best led in New York and San Francisco, this panel travels through the Queer South, moving between the city of New Orleans, rural Prentiss County, Mississippi, and the small towns of Ponca, Arkansas and Ovett, Mississippi.  Building on work by John Howard, E. Patrick Johnson, Mab Segrest, James Sears, Dorothy Allison, and other queer Southern scholars, panelists consider ways in which queer Southern identities are influenced by geography, whether there is a particular relationship to land and geography in the South, and where Southern gay cultures have flourished.  How is queer life in the South different from its Northern counterpart?  In the words of Judith Halberstam, who chooses to "stay put," deciding to live visible or invisible queer lives in the South?1 How do LGBT stories and lives in the South change throughout the twentieth century?  Are they inseparable from geographically-specific struggles around race and class which structure Southern US history and character?  These questions and more are raised in a history of gay and lesbian New Orleans, in stories of individual queers challenging gender and sexed expectations in rural Mississippi, and in tales of lesbian land collectives struggling to live feminist politics amidst racial conflict. 

[1] Halberstam, Judith.  A Queer Time and Place.  New York: NYU Press, 2005, 27.

See more of: Queer Souths
See more of: AHA Sessions