John F. Marszalek III, "Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi" (UP of Mississippi Press, 2020)


In Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (University of Mississippi Press, 2020), John F. Marszalek III shares conversations with same-sex couples living in small-town and rural Mississippi. In the first book of its kind to focus on Mississippi, couples tell their stories of how they met and fell in love, their decisions on whether or not to marry, and their experiences as sexual minorities with their neighbors, families, and churches. Their stories illuminate a complicated relationship between many same-sex couples and their communities, influenced by southern culture, religion, and family norms.

As Marszalek guides readers into the homes of diverse same-sex couples, he weaves in his own story of meeting his husband and living as a married gay man in Mississippi. Both the couples and he explain why they remain in one of the most conservative states in the country rather than moving to a place with a large, vibrant gay community.

In addition to sharing his own experiences, Marszalek reviews the literature on the topic, including writings from southern and rural queer studies, history, sociology, and psychology, to explain how the couples’ relationships and experiences compare to those of same-sex couples in other areas and times. Consequently, Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet is written for both the scholar of southern and queer studies and for anyone interested in learning about the experiences of same-sex couples.

John F. Marszalek III is clinical faculty of the online clinical mental health counseling program at Southern New Hampshire University. He is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi, published by University Press of Mississippi. He lives in Mississippi with his husband and their two dogs.

Chris Babits is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at Utah State University. In addition to teaching, he’s feverishly writing his book, To Cure a Sinful Nation: A History of Conversion Therapy in the United States (University of Chicago Press).

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