Drastic Dykes and Accidental Activists

Queer Women in the Urban South

By La Shonda Mims

256 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7055-3
    Published: December 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7054-6
    Published: December 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7056-0
    Published: November 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5053-9
    Published: November 2022

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Awards & distinctions

A 2023 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

After World War II, Atlanta and Charlotte emerged as leading urban centers in the South, redefining the region through their competing metropolitan identities. Both cities also served as home to queer communities who defined themselves in accordance with their urban surroundings and profited to varying degrees from the emphasis on economic growth. Uniting southern women's history with urban history, La Shonda Mims considers an imaginatively constructed archive including feminist newsletters and queer bar guides alongside sources revealing corporate boosterism and political rhetoric to explore the complex nature of lesbian life in the South.

Mims's work reveals significant differences between gay men's and lesbian women's lived experiences, with lesbians often missing out on the promises of prosperity that benefitted some members of gay communities. Money, class, and race were significant variables in shaping the divergent life experiences for the lesbian communities of Atlanta and Charlotte; whiteness especially bestowed certain privileges. In Atlanta, an inclusive corporate culture bolstered the city's queer community. In Charlotte, tenacious lesbian collectives persevered, as many queer Charlotteans leaned on Atlanta's enormous Pride celebrations for sanctuary when similar institutional community supports were lacking at home.

About the Author

La Shonda Mims is assistant professor of history at the University of Birmingham, UK.
For more information about La Shonda Mims, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"There is no one lesbian experience, just as there is no one human experience. Mims confronts this challenge head-on in her parallel histories of “women loving women” in Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC . . . . [Mims] incorporates the experiences of women of color without tokenism . . . . She also skillfully discusses the role of sexism and gay white privilege. This important work sits at the intersection of race, economics, religion, sectionalism, gender, and sexuality . . . . Highly recommended."—CHOICE

"Keenly researched and well written, Mims's outstanding book makes an important contribution to the social and cultural histories of southern lesbians and all the identities the words 'southern' and 'lesbians' entail."—Stephanie Gilmore, author of Groundswell: Grassroots Feminist Activism in Postwar America

"By putting lesbian communities in Atlanta and Charlotte in conversation, Mims charts new territory in the historiography of the queer South."—Julia Brock, University of Alabama