‘Honeypot’: Blending Creative Storytelling And Oral History To Spotlight Queer Southern Black Women

Jan 29, 2020

'Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women' cover art 'Wings Not Meant to Fly.'
Credit Jamea Richmond-Edwards / Courtesy of E. Patrick Johnson

Writer E. Patrick Johnson was hesitant to collect the stories of queer black Southern women. He is a cisgender gay black man, and the divide between the male and female experience was something he felt he could not portray on the page. But after being encouraged by women who wanted their experiences known and shared, he found a way to spotlight their voices.

In his latest book, “Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women” (Duke University Press/2019), Johnson blends oral history with creative writing to take readers on a trip below the Mason-Dixon line to learn about the lives of queer black women who live there. He uses the fictional character, Ms. B, to grapple with moments of male privilege and prejudice, and he weaves lessons of empathy between the stories of women he interviewed for the book.

E. Patrick Johnson is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the creative process behind “Honeypot” and what he hopes readers gain from its stories.