Queer history is a living practice. Talk to any group of LGBTQ people today, and they will not agree on what story should be told. Many people desire to celebrate the past by erecting plaques and painting rainbow crosswalks, but queer and trans people in the twenty-first century need more than just symbols—they need access to power, justice for marginalized people, spaces of belonging. Approaching the past through a lens of queer and trans survival and world-building transforms history itself into a tool for imagining and realizing a better future.
Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City (UNC Press, 2021) tells the story of an LGBTQ community in Roanoke, Virginia, a small city on the edge of Appalachia. Interweaving historical analysis, theory, and memoir, Gregory Samantha Rosenthal tells the story of their own journey—coming out and transitioning as a transgender woman—in the midst of working on a community-based history project that documented a multigenerational southern LGBTQ community. Based on over forty interviews with LGBTQ elders, Living Queer History explores how queer people today think about the past and how history lives on in the present.
Gregory Samantha Rosenthal, PhD, is Associate Professor of History and Coordinator of the Public History Concentration at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. She teaches courses in public history, women’s and gender studies, and general education. She is interested in environmental studies, working-class studies, LGBTQ, queer, and trans studies, community organizing, and scholar-activism. Her pronouns are she/her or they/them.
The Queer Voices of the South podcast encourages listeners to suggest authors they would like to hear us interview. Follow us on Twitter @voices_south or in the public group Queer Voices of the South on Facebook or email us at email@example.com
Morris Ardoin is the author of Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy (2020, University Press of Mississippi), which was optioned for TV/film development in 2021. A communications leader in health care, immigration and asylum, and higher education, his work has appeared in national and international media. He divides his time between New York City and Cornwallville, New York, where he does most of his writing. His blog, “Parenthetically Speaking,” which focuses on life as a writer, home cook, and Cajun New Yorker, can be found at www.morrisardoin.com. Twitter: @morrisardoin Instagram: morrisardoin.