Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South

Univ of North Carolina Press

Giving voice to a population too rarely acknowledged, Sweet Tea collects more than sixty life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the South. E. Patrick Johnson challenges stereotypes of the South as "backward" or "repressive" and offers a window into the ways black gay men negotiate their identities, build community, maintain friendship networks, and find sexual and life partners--often in spaces and activities that appear to be antigay. Ultimately, Sweet Tea validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.

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About the author

E. Patrick Johnson is chair, director of graduate studies, and professor in the Department of Performance Studies and professor of African American studies at Northwestern University. He is on tour in 2008, giving live performances of "Pouring Tea," a one-man-show based on the interviews collected for Sweet Tea.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of North Carolina Press
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Published on
Sep 15, 2008
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Pages
584
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ISBN
9780807886861
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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While over the past decade a number of scholars have done significant work on questions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered identities, this volume is the first to collect this groundbreaking work and make black queer studies visible as a developing field of study in the United States. Bringing together essays by established and emergent scholars, this collection assesses the strengths and weaknesses of prior work on race and sexuality and highlights the theoretical and political issues at stake in the nascent field of black queer studies. Including work by scholars based in English, film studies, black studies, sociology, history, political science, legal studies, cultural studies, and performance studies, the volume showcases the broadly interdisciplinary nature of the black queer studies project.

The contributors consider representations of the black queer body, black queer literature, the pedagogical implications of black queer studies, and the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies. Whether exploring the closet as a racially loaded metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of diaspora studies in black queer studies, considering how the black lesbian voice that was so expressive in the 1970s and 1980s is all but inaudible today, or investigating how the social sciences have solidified racial and sexual exclusionary practices, these insightful essays signal an important and necessary expansion of queer studies.

Contributors. Bryant K. Alexander, Devon Carbado, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Keith Clark, Cathy Cohen, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jewelle Gomez, Phillip Brian Harper, Mae G. Henderson, Sharon P. Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Dwight A. McBride, Charles I. Nero, Marlon B. Ross, Rinaldo Walcott, Maurice O. Wallace

Performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson’s provocative study examines how blackness is appropriated and performed—toward widely divergent ends—both within and outside African American culture. Appropriating Blackness develops from the contention that blackness in the United States is necessarily a politicized identity—avowed and disavowed, attractive and repellent, fixed and malleable. Drawing on performance theory, queer studies, literary analysis, film criticism, and ethnographic fieldwork, Johnson describes how diverse constituencies persistently try to prescribe the boundaries of "authentic" blackness and how performance highlights the futility of such enterprises.

Johnson looks at various sites of performed blackness, including Marlon Riggs’s influential documentary Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and comedic routines by Eddie Murphy, David Alan Grier, and Damon Wayans. He analyzes nationalist writings by Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver, the vernacular of black gay culture, an oral history of his grandmother’s experience as a domestic worker in the South, gospel music as performed by a white Australian choir, and pedagogy in a performance studies classroom. By exploring the divergent aims and effects of these performances—ranging from resisting racism, sexism, and homophobia to excluding sexual dissidents from the black community—Johnson deftly analyzes the multiple significations of blackness and their myriad political implications. His reflexive account considers his own complicity, as ethnographer and teacher, in authenticating narratives of blackness.

Staging an important new conversation between performers and critics, Blacktino Queer Performance approaches the interrelations of blackness and Latinidad through a stimulating mix of theory and art. The collection contains nine performance scripts by established and emerging black and Latina/o queer playwrights and performance artists, each accompanied by an interview and critical essay conducted or written by leading scholars of black, Latina/o, and queer expressive practices. As the volume's framing device, "blacktino" grounds the specificities of black and brown social and political relations while allowing the contributors to maintain the goals of queer-of-color critique. Whether interrogating constructions of Latino masculinity, theorizing the black queer male experience, or examining black lesbian relationships, the contributors present blacktino queer performance as an artistic, critical, political, and collaborative practice. These scripts, interviews, and essays not only accentuate the value of blacktino as a reading device; they radiate the possibilities for thinking through the concepts of blacktino, queer, and performance across several disciplines. Blacktino Queer Performance reveals the inevitable flirtations, frictions, and seductions that mark the contours of any ethnoracial love affair.  
Contributors. Jossiana Arroyo, Marlon M. Bailey, Pamela Booker, Sharon Bridgforth, Jennifer Devere Brody, Cedric Brown, Bernadette Marie Calafell, Javier Cardona, E. Patrick Johnson, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, John Keene, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, D. Soyini Madison, Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr., Andreea Micu, Charles I. Nero, Tavia Nyong'o, Paul Outlaw, Coya Paz, Charles Rice-González, Sandra L. Richards, Matt Richardson, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Celiany Rivera-Velázquez, Tamara Roberts, Lisa B. Thompson, Beliza Torres Narváez, Patricia Ybarra, Vershawn Ashanti Young
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