Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South–An Oral History

Giving voice to a population rarely acknowledged in southern history, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, collects life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the southern United States. E. Patrick Johnson challenges stereotypes of the South as “backward” or “repressive,” suggesting that these men draw upon the performance of “southerness”–politeness, coded speech, and religiosity, for example–to legitimate themselves as members of both southern and black cultures. At the same time, Johnson argues, they deploy those same codes to establish and build friendship networks and find sexual partners and life partners.

Traveling to every southern state, Johnson conducted interviews with more than seventy black gay men between the ages 19 and 93–lawyers, hairdressers, ministers, artists, doctors, architects, students, professors, and corporate executives, as well as the retired and the unemployed. Sweet Tea is arranged according to themes echoed in their narratives. The voices collected here dispute the idea that gay subcultres flourish primarily in northern, sexular, urban areas. In addition to filling a gap in the sexual history of the South, Sweet Tea offers a window into the ways that black gay men negotiate their sexual and racial identities. Now available in paperback. Buy it here. Buy audiobook here.