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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

Los Angeles, California
Northwestern University
Published June 27, 2019


In this video conversation, E. Patrick Johnson and Sharon Bridgforth talk about Johnson's book, Black. Queer. Southern. Women.—An Oral History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Johnson discusses the black women who influenced his early exposure to the arts, conceptions of ethnography and oral history, and finding theory in the quotidian. Black. Queer. Southern. Women. draws upon the narratives of nearly eighty women whose stories of everyday life and love reveal complexities of race, gender, geography, and sexuality. This event took place on March 22, 2019, in the Stuart A. Rose Library and was sponsored by the Augustus Baldwin Longstreet Speaker Series of the English Department of Emory University.

Queer Intersections / Southern Spaces is a collection of interdisciplinary, multimedia publications that explore, trouble, and traverse intersections of queer experiences, past, present, and future. From a variety of perspectives, and with an emphasis upon the US South, this series, edited by Eric Solomon, offers critical analysis of LGBTQ+ people, practices, spaces, and places.


Part One

Black women who influenced Johnson's thinking about literature, folklore, the arts, and "quare theory" while growing up in western North Carolina and when attending UNC–Chapel Hill (5:27).

Part Two

Johnson's approach to interviewing and transcribing, selecting and editing narratives for print publication, and recording stories of everyday sexual violence (14:49).

Part Three

What most surprised him in the oral history interviews for the book? Themes of spirituality, sexual fluidity, nomenclature, and queerness (9:08).

Part Four

Johnson acknowledges several women in his oral history project who have helped build networks of activism and care (13:40).

Part Five

Bridgforth on growing up in Los Angeles, raised by people from Memphis, and New Orleans, listening to stories, and writing to understand herself and to survive (7:28).

Question and Answer Session

About the Speakers

E. Patrick Johnson is a scholar, artist, and the Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Johnson performs nationally and internationally and has published widely in the areas of race, gender, sexuality, and performance. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), and Black. Queer. Southern. Women.—An Oral History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018).

Sharon Bridgforth is a writer and activist, and a recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. A self-employed touring artist since 1998, Bridgforth has received support from Creative Capital, the MAP Fund, and the National Performance Network. Bridgforth's publications include love conjure/blues (Washington, DC: Redbone Press, 2004) and the Lambda Literary Award-winning the bull-jean stories (Washington, DC: Redbone Press, 1998). Bridgforth is also the producer and host of the podcast series Who Yo People Is.

Cover Image Attribution:

Sharon Bridgforth and E. Patrick Johnson in conversation, Atlanta, Georgia, March 22, 2019. Video still by Southern Spaces.

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