Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

An Oral History

By E. Patrick Johnson

592 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 halftones, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4110-2
    Published: November 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4109-6
    Published: November 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4111-9
    Published: October 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5516-9
    Published: October 2018

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, Lambda Literary Award, LGBTQ Studies

A Stonewall Honor Book in Nonfiction, American Library Association Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Round Table

Finalist, Judy Grahn Award, Publishing Triangle

Drawn from the life narratives of more than seventy African American queer women who were born, raised, and continue to reside in the American South, this book powerfully reveals the way these women experience and express racial, sexual, gender, and class identities--all linked by a place where such identities have generally placed them on the margins of society. Using methods of oral history and performance ethnography, E. Patrick Johnson's work vividly enriches the historical record of racialized sexual minorities in the South and brings to light the realities of the region's thriving black lesbian communities.

At once transcendent and grounded in place and time, these narratives raise important questions about queer identity formation, community building, and power relations as they are negotiated within the context of southern history. Johnson uses individual stories to reveal the embedded political and cultural ideologies of the self but also of the listener and society as a whole. These breathtakingly rich life histories show afresh how black female sexuality is and always has been an integral part of the patchwork quilt that is southern culture.

About the Author

E. Patrick Johnson is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University and author of Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South.
For more information about E. Patrick Johnson, visit the Author Page.


“Johnson lays the foundation for other scholars to engage a younger generation of black queer southern women. For scholars, students, and teachers in southern, African American, gender and sexuality, and oral and folklore studies, Johnson’s oral history will be indispensable for future interventions.”—Journal of Southern History

“A timely text with over seventy women sharing their insights, heartbreaks, and joy. . . . These women’s narratives open conversations and categories that often are thought hidden in the shadows or nonexistent. The narrators of [Black. Queer. Southern. Women.] will make you laugh, cry, and thank them for their strength and resilience.”—QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking

“Johnson's book does oral history the right way, addressing potentially sensitive subjects with respect and generosity. Because of this, he makes another commendable contribution to Black feminist studies, oral history, performance studies, queer studies, and Africana studies.”—WSQ

“In this ground-breaking oral history project of E. Patrick Johnson’s, readers glimpse the everydayness and extraordinariness of being black queer women in the U.S. South.”—Religious Studies Review

"A courageous and eminently readable book that will be celebrated and cherished by a generation of readers inside and outside the academy." —Nan Alamilla Boyd, San Francisco State University

"An amazing work that reflects Johnson's passion, care for his subjects, sharp analytical skills, and standing in the field." —Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Spelman College