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University of Iowa News Release


March 12, 2007

Dramatic Reading To Illustrate Experiences Of Black, Gay Men In South

The experiences of homosexuals in the South have gone largely undocumented, perhaps because the South is generally perceived as an inhospitable place for gays, according to a scholar who is visiting the University of Iowa this month.

Instead, histories of gay life focused on urban areas on the coasts, until now.

Artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson, chairman and director of graduate studies in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, has written "Sweet Tea," the first book-length study about gay black men living in the South. The University of North Carolina Press is publishing the book this year.

Johnson is visiting the UI Friday, March 23 to deliver a dramatic reading of "Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales" at 4 p.m. in room 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building. This free, public performance is inspired by interviews conducted for his forthcoming book.

The performance is part of the UI Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts' spring lecture series. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Theatre Arts Department and Sexuality Studies Program are co-sponsors.

Johnson has performed internationally and published widely on topics of race, gender, sexuality and performance. He is the author of "Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity," a book published by Duke University Press in 2003.

The lecture series, "Thinking Outside the Box: Ethnic Identities and the Arts," will continue on April 13 with a presentation by Noliwe Rooks, associate director of African American Studies at Princeton University and 2007 Albert E. Stone Distinguished Alumnae Speaker of American Studies. Her lecture is titled "Black is not a Primary Color: African American Studies and Higher Education."

Drawing on the UI's distinctive strengths in the arts, the UI Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts was established in 2006 as the first research center to focus on creative expression as a specific important cultural component of ethnic communities and their heritage. The center is housed in the American Studies department in the CLAS and is funded by the CLAS, the Graduate College, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Provost.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. Anyone needing an accommodation should call the Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts in advance at 319-384-3490.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Nicole Riehl, 319-384-0070,; Program: Karen Smith, 319-384-3490;