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The Legacy Of Love And Hate Toward Effeminate Men

RuPaul Charles accepts the award for outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program for "RuPaul's Drag Race" during night two of the Television Academy's 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2016.
Phil McCarten
/
AP Photo
RuPaul Charles accepts the award for outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program for "RuPaul's Drag Race" during night two of the Television Academy's 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2016.

In art and pop culture effeminate men are cast in very different light. Some are revered, like artist Liberace or drag queen and TV star RuPaul Andre Charles. But other times, effeminate men are seen as simultaneously fascinating and grotesque.

  Author and Durham Academy teacher Harry Thomas Jr. set out to find out how effeminate men can occupy such different spaces in public consciousness. He explored the writings of Truman Capote, the New Orleans bounce music of Big Freedia and more subtle portrayals of effeminate men, like the vampires in the “Twilight” book and movie series. Thomas argues that effeminate men offer an emotional relationship safe from sex which many women are drawn to.

Thomas collected his research in the book, “Sissy! The Effeminate Paradox in Postwar US Literature and Culture” (The University of Alabama Press/ 2017) and he speaks with host Frank Stasio.

Laura Pellicer is a digital producer with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.