Charis Books and More Logo

A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta's Gay Revolution--Martin Padgett in conversation with Samantha Allen

Event date: 
Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Charis welcomes Martin Padgett in conversation with Samantha Allen for a celebration of A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta's Gay Revolution. An electric and intimate story of 1970s gay Atlanta through its bedazzling drag clubs and burgeoning rights activism. This event is co-sponsored by Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP), a queer + trans, arts + advocacy organization centering Southern queer communities. This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.

Coursing with a pumped-up beat, gay Atlanta was the South's mecca—a beacon for gays and lesbians growing up in its homophobic towns and cities. There, the Sweet Gum Head was the club for achieving drag stardom.

Martin Padgett evokes the fantabulous disco decade by going deep into the lives of two men who shaped and were shaped by this city: John Greenwell, an Alabama runaway who found himself and his avocation performing as the exquisite Rachel Wells; and Bill Smith, who took to the streets and city hall to change antigay laws. Against this optimism for visibility and rights, gay people lived with daily police harassment and drug dealing and murder in their discos and drag clubs. Conducting interviews with many of the major figures and reading through deteriorating gay archives, Padgett expertly re-creates Atlanta from a time when a vibrant, new queer culture of drag and pride came into being.

Martin Padgett has an MFA from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and received a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellowship. He has written for Oxford AmericanGravyDetails, and Business Week. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Samantha Allen is the author of Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States, which won the Judy Turner Prize for Community Service from the Decatur Book Festival. She is also a GLAAD Award-winning journalist and editor whose work has been published by The New York TimesRolling Stone, CNN, and more.

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage

We will be archiving this event and adding closed captioning as soon as possible after airing so that it will be accessible to deaf and HOH people. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to info@chariscircle.org. We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

By attending our virtual event you agree to our Code of Conduct: Our event seeks to provide a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), class, or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Sexual language and imagery are not appropriate. Anyone violating these rules will be expelled from this event and all future events at the discretion of the organizers. Please report all harassment to info@chariscircle.org immediately.

Event address: 
CROWDCAST
A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta's Gay Revolution Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781324007128
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 1st, 2021

An electric and intimate story of 1970s gay Atlanta through its bedazzling drag clubs and burgeoning rights activism.

Coursing with a pumped-up beat, gay Atlanta was the South's mecca—a beacon for gays and lesbians growing up in its homophobic towns and cities. There, the Sweet Gum Head was the club for achieving drag stardom.


Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316516020
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - June 16th, 2020

LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST
A transgender reporter's "powerful, profoundly moving" narrative tour through the surprisingly vibrant queer communities sprouting up in red states (New York Times Book Review), offering a vision of a stronger, more humane America.


Event Summary: 
Charis welcomes Martin Padgett in conversation with Samantha Allen for a celebration of A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta's Gay Revolution. This event is co-sponsored by Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP).