Harvard Book Store welcomes E. PATRICK JOHNSON—professor, scholar, performer, and author of the beloved book Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—for a discussion of his latest book, Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women. He will be joined in conversation by ANGELA ARDS, Associate Professor of English at Boston College.
E. Patrick Johnson’s Honeypot opens with the fictional trickster character Miss B. barging into the home of Dr. EPJ, informing him that he has been chosen to collect and share the stories of her people. With little explanation, she whisks the reluctant Dr. EPJ away to the women-only world of Hymen, where she serves as his tour guide as he bears witness to the real-life stories of queer Black women throughout the American South. The women he meets come from all walks of life and recount their experiences on topics ranging from coming out and falling in love to mother/daughter relationships, religion, and political activism. As Dr. EPJ hears these stories, he must grapple with his privilege as a man and as an academic, and in the process he gains insights into patriarchy, class, sex, gender, and the challenges these women face. Combining oral history with magical realism and poetry, Honeypot is an engaging and moving book that reveals the complexity of identity while offering a creative method for scholarship to represent the lives of other people in a rich and dynamic way.
“At times devastating and always gripping, Honeypot is an innovative and educational glimpse into the lives of black Southern LGBTQ+ women.” —Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews
“In this critically singular work E. Patrick Johnson excavates heretofore unexplored stories of contemporary southern black women whose narratives of loving other women subvert their erasure in queer histories of LGBTQ communities. Gesturing toward black storytelling traditions within which both myth and fact shape the story, Johnson values and gives value to black women’s understandings of themselves and the transformative power of self-initiated freedoms. I’ve never read an oral history as powerful as Honeypot.” —Alexis De Veaux, author of Yabo
“E. Patrick Johnson delivers again. We make a corner turn from his book of delicious tea leaves and find ourselves submerged in the long-legged pages of sweet woman truth. The stories are of southern women loving themselves and other women too. Here are memories and moments shaping a new tradition of resilience and rosewater.” —Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.