There’s a song many kids in the South learn to help remember the spelling of “Mississippi.” It starts, “M… I… Crooked Letter… Crooked Letter… I” and continues on from there.
This little rhyme is the inspiration for the title of a new anthology that has nothing to do with folk songs or state names.
“Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South” is a collection of essays documenting the experience of being lesbian, gay, gender neutral and fluid in the American South. The book’s editor, Connie Griffin, compares this experience with the letter “S” in the tune because many non-heterosexual youth feel “crooked” by the standards of their communities and hometowns.
Atlanta writer Drew Plant, one of the 16 contributors to the anthology, spoke with Stephannie Stokes about the diverse set of stories included in the book and the importance of hearing these accounts today, even with same-sex marriage being legal in all parts of the U.S.
“Coming out is a process and I think that’s what people would see when they read the book,” Plant said. “And I think it’s still a process in terms of society; we’re still a work in progress.”
Plant also shares some of the stories from the book, including one of a man who waited to come out until after his wife’s death and Plant’s own experience dealing with a partner who died of AIDS.