Out in the South

Edited by Carlos L. Dews, and Carolyn Leste Law
Book Cover

PB: $33.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-814-5
Publication: Jan 01

HC: $87.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-813-8
Publication: Jan 01

Ebook: $33.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0113-7

256 pages
7 x 10

An absorbing collection of writings about gay and lesbian life in the South

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


In this book gays and lesbians from the Deep South to East Texas and Appalachia speak from vivid personal experience and turn an analytical eye on the South and its culture. Some contributors examine the power of traditional Southern attitudes toward race and religion, and consider the "don't ask, don't tell" attitude about homosexuality in some communities (the "public secret"). Other contributors show how gay culture is thriving in the form of women's festivals, gay bars, and unusual networks like that of Asian and Pacific Islanders in Atlanta.

Out in the South is organized into sections that focus on a central metaphor of space and location. This grounds the book in the sense of the South as a special region and in the inside/outside dilemma faced by many gay and lesbian Southerners as they negotiate their place in an often-inhospitable homeland.


"Out in the South creates an amazing and long awaited dialogue between 'The South' and queer voices, the two estranged stepchildren of academics. In this collection of largely personal essays and oral histories, Dews and Law have gathered a group of writers who break stereotypes from within and without the gay community, and challenge us, once again, to embrace the full complexity of our humanity." Professor Rebecca Mark, author of The Dragon's Blood: Feminist Intertextuality in Eudora Welty's The Golden Apple

" 'We live in the South, that strangest of regions, where pigs once ranged free over the land.' So begins one of the extraordinary pieces of writing found in this collection. Whether sounding a note of wry humor or affirming the ubiquity of the church and religion or naming the interplay of race or evoking the reality of a fearful isolation, these works always convey a quiet bravery born of honest determination to figure out what being southern and gay or lesbian means. The editors speak with searing clarity about why they embark on this venture. They should congratulate themselves on how richly and deeply they fulfilled their original impulses. Out in the South will be of value to anyone who has ever breathed through a southern summer or survived outside the ever-clear boundaries of a region where pigs did indeed range over the land and where kudzu and prejudice still thrive all year round." Toni A.H. McNaron, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English, University of Minnesota; author of the memoir, I Dwell in Possibility, and author of Poisoned Ivy: Lesbian and Gay Academics Confront Homophobia (Temple)

"Out in the South is a hymn of regional reckoning. Editors Dews and Law have assembled a choir of the South's Gay and Lesbian writers, teachers and thinkers who are unafraid to claim the birthright, confront the stereotypes and celebrate the dirt road and downtown in every Southern Queer's search for being and identity. These voices—flat-out, focused and familiar as kin—demand a place in the discussion of heritage, history and home." Jay Quinn, Editor of Rebel Yell: Stories by Contemporary Southern Gay Writers and author of The Mentor: A Memoir of Friendship and Sexual Identity

"Out in the South is a collection of fourteen diverse essays, plus a trenchant introduction and an incendiary afterword by the editors, that illustrate and analyze what it means to be both queer and Southern today. In none of these pieces is the ongoing homophobia, racism, classism, or hypocrisy of the South minimized. The unique value of the volume is that all these things, as well as the inescapable cultural institution of fundamentalist Christianity, are looked at head-on by queer Southerners themselves....Out in the South is unprecedented in its scope, complexity, and daring." Lambda Book Report

Table of Contents

Introduction – Carolyn Leste Law
Part I: Claiming Queer Space in a Hostile Place
1. Emmett's Story: Russell County, Alabama – Joseph Beam
2. Out in the Mountains: Exploring Lesbian and Gay Lives – Kate Black and Marc A. Rhorer
3. Claiming Space in the South: A Conversation Among Members of Asian/Pacific Islander Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Network of Atlanta – Patti Duncan
4. Women's Festivals On the Front Lines – Bonnie J. Morris
5. Race and Gay Community in "Southern Town" – David Knapp Whittier
Part II: Striking Out/Striking Back
6. Leaving the Confederate Closet – Bonnie R. Strickland
7. Black Gay Men and White Gay Men: A Less than Perfect Union – Charles I. Nero
8. Same Difference: My Southern Queer Stories – Donna Smith
9. Tennessee Williams Doesn't Live Here Anymore: Hypocrisy, Paradox and Homosexual Panic in the New/Old South – James R. Keller
Part III: Representing Queer Lives in Public Space
10. Greetings From Out Here: Southern Lesbians and Gays Bear Witness to the Public Secret – R. Bruce Brasell
11. Looking for a City: The Ritual and Politics of Ethnography – Edward R. Gray
12. From Southern Baptist Belle To Butch (And Beyond) – Laura Milner
13. "Lines I Dare": Southern Lesbian Writing – Mab Segrest
14. Myth and Reality: The story of gay people in the South – Jim Grimsley
Afterword – Carlos L. Dews

About the Author(s)

Carlos L. Dews is Associate Professor of English at the University of West Florida. He is the editor of Carson McCullers's unfinished autobiography, Illumination and Night Glare.

Carolyn Leste Law is Dissertation Advisor in the Graduate School at Northern Illinois University and an independent scholar interested in social justice. Together, they edited This Fine Place So Far from Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class (Temple).