To date, lesbian and gay history has focused largely on the East and West coasts, and on urban settings such as New York and San Francisco. The American South, on the other hand, identified with religion, traditional gender roles, and cultural conservatism, has escaped attention. Southerners celebrate their past; lesbians and gays celebrate their new-found visibility; historians celebrate the Southyet rarely have the three crossed paths.
John Howard's groundbreaking anthology casts its net widely, examining lesbian and gay experiences in Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee. James Schnur, by virtue of a Freedom of Information Act query, sheds light on the sinister machinations of the Johns Committee, whose clandestine duty it was to ferret out suspected homosexuals during the McCarthy years. In his essay on the great Southern writer William Alexander Percy, William Armstrong Percy provides tangible evidence that Southern citizens, historians, and archivists have long sought to repress or obscure certain individuals within what C. Vann Woodward described as the perverse section. Moving chronologically through America's past, from the antebellum and postbellum periods, through the Jim Crow era and the Cold War, to the present, this volume introduces an important new framework to the field of lesbian and gay historythat of regional history.
"This assortment of touching, hilarious, and very smart essays moves lesbian and gay history to a new place, geographically and analytically. Ranging widely from deep South to upper South, from rural areas to urban centers, across differences of race class and gender, the authors explore the intersecting meanings of southernness and sexuality with attention to the widest angles of vision, and to the telling details of daily experience."
-Lisa Duggan, coauthor with Nan D. Hunter of Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture