Christmas holiday : queering family in 20th century southern Missouri
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An obituary in The Southeast Missourian lists Elaine "Tommie" Davis as the business partner of Mary Jane "Miss Jane" Barnett for over forty years (Elaine Davis Obituary). However, the family albums of the two tell a richer story, they were life partners as well as business partners, a radical act in mid-century America, and perhaps even a dangerous one in Southern Missouri. Their life together in Cape Girardeau, Missouri was recorded by over six hundred photographs, letters, and hours of home video. Out of these materials housed in the State Historical Society of Missouri in Cape Girardeau, the photographs of their personal lives are of particular interest. The family snapshot represents and reinforces particular narratives of what a family should look like, and how it should function. This is further emphasized in Christmas family snapshots. Thus, the family snapshots of Barnett and Davis, and in particular, 'Christmas Holiday', implicitly challenge the very culture that their lives were no doubt steeped in. The family album thus becomes a resistive force, whether consciously or unconsciously, against the pervasive heteronormativity and homophobia of both the time and place.
Artifacts ; issue 15 (2017)
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