Bil Browning

The Sons of Tennessee Williams

Filed By Bil Browning | February 18, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History
Tags: drag queens, drag show, gay history, krewes, LGBT history, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Sons of Tennessee Williams

Keep an eye out for this upcoming flick - The Sons of Tennessee Williams. Watching the preview below, I'm struck by the sheer unrecognized history. If nothing else, check out the clip starting at 7:30 where they show former queens in their 70s and 80s doing a show. In Indiana, we don't have anything that's been out-and-proud long enough to have that much history. I can't wait to see this movie.

THE SONS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS is the story of the gay men of New Orleans who created a vast and fantastic culture of "drag balls" starting in the late 1950s. These men worked with the traditions of Mardi Gras to bring gay culture into public settings in the early 1960s. By 1969, there were four gay Mardi Gras krewes, legally chartered by the state of Louisiana, throwing yearly extravaganzas at civic venues around the city.

They succeeded in bringing down the "Jim Crow" laws that targeted gay people for offenses such as public assembly, same-sex dancing and cross-dressing. They staged a flamboyant costumed revolution without politics and won freedoms during a time, as now, when laws and people fought against them.

Video after the jump.

THE SONS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS trailer from tim wolff on Vimeo.

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How wonderful! Thank you for this preview.

Wow. Fantastic. NOLA is burning.

They don't make queens like that anymore.
And we need them more than ever.

gregorybrown | February 19, 2009 9:51 AM

I admit that I'm not fond of drag. I've seen too much of it done badly, and there are probably other, deeper, more sinister reasons.
But this is an excellent reminder that so much of whatever progress has been made by queers is the fruit of work and and dangerous leaps of faith by outrageous queens, street people and other marginalized folks whose existence is often an embarrassment to "str8 acting, str8 looking" folks.