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Men Like That: A Southern Queer History New edition Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226354705
ISBN-10: 0226354709
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For three decades, social historians have claimed that for gay people, sexual freedom was only found in cities because rural areas were draconian in their regulation of nontraditional sexual practices. In this groundbreaking and engrossing analysis of gay male life in postwar Mississippi, Howard, a professor of American Studies at the University of York, boldly demonstrates that gay culture and sex not only existed but flourished in small towns and agricultural communities throughout the state. Supporting his challenging argument with a compelling mixture of postmodern theory, reportage, cultural analysis, conjecture and personal anecdote, Howard not only convinces but paints a vivid, complex and often startling portrait of the lives of Southern gay men between 1945 and 1985. While the 55 personal interviews and oral histories--which are alternately funny, poignant, informative and sometimes unsettling--form the emotional backbone of the book, Howard is terrific at explicating obvious homosexual content in popular culture. His reading of the gay themes in Bobbie Gentry's 1967 country hit "Ode to Billy Joe" and of [Frank] Hains's spirited defenses of homosexuality in his popular entertainment column in the Jackson Daily News from 1955 to 1975, and Howard's own interpretation of an infamous murder trial, support his thesis that homosexuality was anything but hidden. Most provocative of all, however, is Howard's innovative analysis of how gay sexual activity and homophobia fueled and shaped white resistance to the black civil rights movement. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Howard (lecturer, American history, Univ. of York) provides a stirring analysis of gay male life in Mississippi from the end of World War II to the onset of the AIDS crisis. The author reveals that contrary to popular belief, gay culture not only existed but also thrived in the state's small towns and rural areas. Homes, churches, schools, and workplaces saw prospering gay sexuality. Howard's account depicts historical periods of great progress and times of extreme oppression. While the 1950s were years of "queer networking," the days of heady sexuality in the 1960s were a time of hostile oppression. Most controversially, Howard reveals how gay sexual behavior and homophobia prompted white resistance to the Civil Rights movement. Men Like That will confront and challenge readers' thinking about gay life in the South and rural America. Recommended for all gay studies collections.
-Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Libs., South Bend, IN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; New edition edition (July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226354709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226354705
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book, a revolutionary book, a truthfully human book. Make no mistake: this is not a dense sociological-historical work distanced by academic patois one plows through for what insights might be obscured therein, but a scholarly work marked by clean prose and a clean treatment of male-to male sex, employinging the language that most often informs such experiences as they are experienced. John Howard's oral and regional histories, insights and analysis extend in so many directions, opens up so many spaces that extended and opened up this reader's awareness, not the least of which was how mislead conventional concepts of male sexuality have been.
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Format: Hardcover
I had to write a short review on this book. Seeing as I am a current (and lifelong) gay resident of Mississippi, I was delighted to find a history of the places that I frequented during my youth. The book is titled after a line in the movie "Ode to Billie Joe," which was based on the song of the same name by Bobbie Gentry. I of course, remember this song and how all of us speculated on exactly what was thrown off the Tallahatchie bridge. I have a really special(?) memory of the movie, because it was the first time I ever took a girl on a date, and lo and behold, it was a movie about a gay man in Mississippi. (Did anyone ever ever think that the song or the movie might be about being gay in Mississippi?) Talk about irony. I may be somewhat prejudiced about it but I really believe that this book was written not just as a history of the gay experience in the South, but as a pointed evaluation of what has actually changed regarding homosexual life in Mississippi. There have been a number of books detailing the gay experience in Mississippi lately (Mississippi Sissy is the first one that comes to mind), but this one is a real history of what has happened to gay Mississipians in the last 40-50 years. I especially loved the detailed investigations into the experiences of Jon Hinson and Bill Allain. And I want to thank John Howard for bringing to the fore the modern institutions and expressions of gay life in Mississippi. The majority may hate us, but we're here and we're still queer.
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Format: Hardcover
"Men Like That" takes us on journeys to places that have rarely been written about before--to sites of queer culture, to places in the heart and mind, to relationships that defy categorizing. Anyone--gay, straight, or otherwise--who has felt isolated because of their sexuality, and whose isolation was lessened by an unpredictable connection with someone else, will benefit from this well-written, well-researched, and fascinating book. Perhaps Howard's most important contribution to the history of queer life is the fact that he questions identity as the primary category for queer folk to attach to, and he makes that challenge with historical evidence, not ideological platitudes or post-modern LitSpeak. The deeply humane premise--that desire links us, one and all, to create connections with others and so to make communities that may not be mappable--asks readers to consider desire at once on its own terms, and as embedded in the curious and mundane stuff of daily life. The book aims most of all to contribute to a better understanding of the human condition, which is, in my view, a relief.
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Format: Hardcover
Men Like That is a wonderful book about Mississippi gay history. It is written by Dr. John Howard, whom himself is a gay Mississippian. Dr. Howard delves into history of gay Mississippi, something even gays in Mississippi have no idea exists, providing a sense of pride in our own community that no other person, author or otherwise, has been able to do, or tried to do. Often is the case, the Southern states are overlooked in their roles in gay history. It took a gay man from Mississippi, to bring to light Mississippi gay history. Thank you Dr. Howard.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very important book. Much has been written about the emergence of the LGBT community in big American cities, and comparatively little has been written about the countryside. Another is "Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest," which I have also read and also found to be magnificent. John Howard writes specifically about Mississippi, and there are numerous strengths in this magnificently researched book. First of all, he has found lots of people to interview, some with their real names, others with pseudonyms, and the stories they tell are inspirational and, in many cases, tragic. Secondly, he quotes people extensively, allowing them to speak, which is great. Third, I was rather surprised to read how tolerant people in Mississippi were about homosexuality back in the day, with politics perhaps being intolerant (the chapter on scandals, including those in which homophobic politicians found themselves, is a jewel), but society not so much. The book is very intensely annotated, with lots and lots of footnotes and suggestions for further reading. Thank you, Mr. Howard!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An ok read but dwells heavily on one or two events to perhaps an inordinate extent. Would have preferred more anecdote/ethnography, less analysis.
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