Date of this Version
Kazyak, Emily. 2014. Just Queer Folks: Gender and Sexuality in Rural America by Colin R. Johnson (book review). Gender & Society 28 (3): 507-509.
Colin Johnson’s book Just Queer Folks provides a powerful corrective to the faulty assumption that gender and sexual nonnormativity and rurality are incompatible. As a historian, Johnson focuses on both the discourses about sexuality emerging and the wide array of sexual practices occurring in the first half of the twentieth century in rural America. He analyzes a wide range of sources to make two central points: first, that heterosexuality and heteronormativity are not “indigenous to rural areas,” but were constructed there (p. 18); second, that same-sex sexual behavior and gender nonconformity were commonplace in rural America in early twentieth century.
Taken as a whole, the book succeeds in mapping the wide range of queer practices that were commonplace for men in rural America. Further, the range of sources Johnson draws on is impressive and thus the book serves as an exemplar for scholars seeking to do queer historicism.