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Critical Studies of Southern Place

A Reader

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Edited By William M. Reynolds

Critical Studies of Southern Place: A Reader critically investigates and informs the construction of Southernness, Southern identity, and the South past and present. It promotes and expands the notion of a Southern epistemology. Authors from across the South write about such diverse topics as Southern working-class culture; LGBT issues in the South; Southern music; Southern reality television; race and ethnicity in the South; religion in the South; sports in the South; and Southernness. How do these multiple interpretations of popular culture within critical conceptualizations of place enhance our understandings of education? Critical Studies of Southern Place investigates the connections between the critical examination of place-specific culture and its multiple connections with education and pedagogy. This important book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of place. Readers will be able to center the importance of place in their own scholarship and cultural work as well as be able to think deeply about how Southern place affects us all.
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Chapter Sixteen: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: The Unspoken Policy of the AfricanAmerican Church in the South

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SIXTEEN

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: The Unspoken Policy of the African American Church in the South

DERRICK M. TENNIAL

At the age of 6, I became consciously and acutely aware of my attraction to the same sex. One evening, my aunt’s boyfriend came over to visit, and I recall swinging between his legs and “liking it,” and him…more than I should. Noting my behavior as “queer” for a little boy, and out of genuine concern, my aunt informed my mother, my uncles, and the family matriarch—my grandmother. Standing in my grandmother’s kitchen, an impromptu family meeting was held, and I was made painfully aware that homosexuality would not be celebrated or tolerated in this family—that it was sinful in the eyes of GOD! In fact, it was more than sinful—it was an ABOMINATION! My 6-year-old mind did not know the meaning of that word, but the way my grandmother said it made it sound worse than death. I cried, and that cry was the beginning of internalizing feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, and condemnation—feelings that would only be intensified by my religious community. I cried, and that cry was for the fact somewhere inside I knew that I would have to navigate contradictory spaces and liminal places because of the religious mindset of the people. I cried, and that cry was the beginning of the covering of my true self because I understood that when it came...

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