Lessons in Unqueering America

By Carol Mason

Subjects: Queer Studies, Lesbian / Gay Studies, American History, American Culture, Social And Cultural History
Series: SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Paperback : 9781438457185, 232 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438457178, 232 pages, August 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Unqueering America: An Introduction
2. Sally Kern: The Queer Terrorist in Middle America
3. Anita Bryant: Oklahoma Roots and National Fruits
4. Billy James Hargis: Sinister, Satanic Sex
5. Bruce Goff: How to Stop Enjoying and Learn to Fear Queer Art
6. Queer Times in Wal Mart Country: A Meandering Conclusion
Works Cited and Collections

Uses the state of Oklahoma as a case study for how US conservatives have attempted to unqueer America since the 1950’s.


By exploring the scandal-filled lives of four Oklahomans, this book demonstrates how unqueering operates in a conservative American context. Carol Mason weaves a story about how homogenizing, antigay ideas evolve from generation to generation so that they achieve particular economic, imperial, racial, and gendered goals. Using engaging and accessible commentary on antigay crusaders (Sally Kern and Anita Bryant) and two queer teachers dismissed from their positions (Billy James Hargis and Bruce Goff), Mason illustrates how the lives of these figures represent paradigmatic moments in conservative confrontations with queers and help us to understand the conflation of terrorism with homosexuality, which dates back to the McCarthy era.

Carol Mason is Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics and Reading Appalachia from Left to Right: Conservatives and the 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy.


"Oklahomo is a wonderful addition to recent queer studies of critical regionalism, rural life, and sexual norms. Via four spot-on case studies, Carol Mason traces a hypnotic history of the US Right that deepens our knowledge of how cultures of terror materialized alongside cultures of sexuality in the American Midwest. Overflowing with acuity, this book is mandatory reading for scholars invested in LGBTQ studies, rural/urban studies, and forgotten tales of modern conservatism. " — Scott Herring, author of Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism