A. Kamau Pope

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Valinda Littlefield


Queer activism dismantles and challenges normativity in spaces that criminalize, oppress, and perpetuate violence towards queer folks. Using Cathy Cohen’s model of radical queer politics, this thesis examines the South as a place that has been shaped over time by queer activism. Beginning with 1960 and the founding of SNCC sets the tone of how the South is non-normative and queer in the context of the United States, yet still a perpetrator of white supremacy, sexism, and homophobia. With a sole focus on the region of the U.S. South, this paper diverges from the narrative of urban queer movements, and instead, it centralizes Southern queer activism. Activism in the South has been racialized and understood through critical race theory, but this thesis expands the analysis through the lens of queer theory. It signifies and provides dialogue centered around these various southern organizations and builds upon the narrative of being “here and queer.” This thesis is a front porch conversation starter that will name the injustice and liberatory factors that queer southern activists have used to thrive, exist, and resist in the region. It will amplify the broad movements these leaders participated in across three decades and examine the creative tactics used to form the concept and notion of a queer South.

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