To my knowledge, this is the first queer history of an Appalachian city – Roanoke, Virginia. Based on the author’s forty interviews with LGBTQ elders and leadership in a community-based queer history project, this combination memoir and ethnography tells the story of the author’s coming out and then transitioning as a transgender woman. “A brilliantly blended book that, much like queerness itself, transcends genre and blurs boundaries. Using memoir to look outward and history to look inward, Rosenthal makes theory concrete, finds the past in the present, and brings Roanoke's overlooked queer demimonde to beautiful life.” --Samantha Allen. “Carefully attentive to the ways in which race, ethnicity, class, and gender (among other identities and power systems) speak to and with LGBTQ identities of various stripes, the book delivers a persuasive challenge to continuing presumptions that the South has never been a space or place in which LGBTQ people or cultures or communities could emerge, let alone survive and thrive.” –Leisa Meyer. “A moving and necessary account of the way making history remakes ourselves, Living Queer History asks what it means for a queer person to have a place and to take up space in a straight world. With keen insight into their own queer life, Samantha Rosenthal combines personal narrative, oral history, activism, and queer theory to offer a fuller understanding of queer belonging."-Jenn Shapland. “In Living Queer History, Samantha Rosenthal revels in the wondrous history of Roanoke's storied queer past and present. At once deeply personal and political, this book reminds us that the South is not just home to sexual dissidents but is also a place of transition and transformative queer world-making.” --E. Patrick Johnson. The author, Gregory Samantha Rosenthal is a history professor at Roanoke College.
Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2021. 278 pages with an Index, Bibliography, Notes, and illustrations. Trade paperback.