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

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Jamea Richmond-Edwards
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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.

Note: This program originally aired January 29, 2020.

Josie Taris left her home in Fayetteville in 2014 to study journalism at Northwestern University. There, she took a class called Journalism of Empathy and found her passion in audio storytelling. She hopes every story she produces challenges the audience's preconceptions of the world. After spending the summer of 2018 working in communications for a Chicago nonprofit, she decided to come home to work for the station she grew up listening to. When she's not working, Josie is likely rooting for the Chicago Cubs or petting every dog she passes on the street.
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.