By Clellan Stearns Ford
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Chapter 4, which examines sexual activity, debunks the myth that homosexuality was always expressed clandestinely in the South. The narratives in this chapter graphically detail how sex between men was not only common, but prevalent in what might seem the unlikeliest of places, such as the athletic dorms of historically black colleges. This chapter is divided into subsections reﬂecting various topics that recurred in the narratives, among them ﬁrst-time sexual experiences and later escapades, sex in the military and at historically black colleges, and hiv/aids.
Tea bagging’’ refers to a man ‘‘dipping’’ his testicles in a sex partner’s mouth, similar to the way one might dip a tea bag into a cup of hot water. ≥≤ How the word ‘‘tea’’ became a part of gay vernacular is debatable, but I suspect that it may have something to do with the gendered history of tea and sugar in Britain. Anthropologist and food historian Sidney W. Mintz argues that the history of sugar, especially in the early eighteenth century, is intimately connected to power and the differentiation of social status.
While I cannot ﬁnd a corollary between these British women’s teatimes and gay tearooms for anonymous sex, perhaps their connection is to the fact that these women’s teas took place in their own space, separate from the men in parlors consuming alcohol and tobacco. While this represents a form of segregation undergirded by sexism, one might argue that it also allowed a space for women to transgress or even subvert the social boundaries of their time. After all, no one really knows what those women were doing during their afternoon teas!
A Comparative Study of Human Reproduction by Clellan Stearns Ford