In honor of Black History Month I am sharing a video we recently released at the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program. The video interview is with E. Patrick Johnson, who is a professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He describes his book and performance called "Sweet Tea." The book and show chronicle a 70 year history. They ask the question, how do gay black men survive life in Dublin, Ga., Jasper, Texas, Hickory, N.C. and other places big and small in America's South? In our interview he shares some of the messages and stories from the performance.
"Black queer life in the South has gone largely undocumented," says Professor Johnson. To uncover this history he conducted his face-to-face interviews with black gay southern men. "Black queers are an important piece of the patchwork quilt that is the diverse and perverse social fabric of Southern living," says Johnson, a self-identified "Southern expatriate" raised in North Carolina's western foothills. Johnson's interview subjects range in age from 19 to 94 and represent at least one gay black man from every former slave-holding state. From corporate executive to drag queen, minister to hairdresser and architect to nurse, they inhabit large cities and small towns and are sometimes and sometimes not openly gay. Professor Johnson hopes that these stories ring true for all of us and serve as examples of how we can move past our personal dramas to come through to the other side as whole people.