Loving Mountains, Loving Men: Memoirs of a Gay Appalachian (Race, Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia) (Paperback)
Second edition, with a new afterword
A Gay man chronicles his relationship to his native Appalachian culture and society.
Appalachians are known for their love of place, yet many LGBTQ+ people from the mountains flee to urban areas in search of community and broader acceptance. Jeff Mann tells his story as one who left and then returned, who insists on claiming and celebrating both regional and sexual identities.
In memoir and poetry, Mann describes his life as an openly gay man who has remained true to his mountain roots. Mann recounts his upbringing in Hinton, a small town in southern West Virginia, as well as his realization of his homosexuality, his early encounters with homophobia, his coterie of supportive lesbian friends, and his initial attempts to escape his native region in hopes of finding a freer life in urban gay communities. Mann depicts his difficult search for a romantic relationship, the family members who have given him the strength to defy convention, his anger against religious intolerance and the violence of homophobia, and his love for the rich folk culture of the Highland South.
His character and values shaped by the mountains, Mann has reconciled his sexuality with both traditional definitions of Appalachian manhood and his own attachment to home and kin. Loving Mountains, Loving Men is a compelling, universal story of making peace with oneself and the wider world.
Jeff Mann is a professor of creative writing at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is the author of numerous books, including Endangered Species: A Surly Bear in the Bible Belt; Redneck Bouquet: Gay Poems from Appalachia; and Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War. He also coedited LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia.
“Gay Appalachian writers existed before Jeff Mann, but few could be out. Jeff knocked open the door. Mann’s essays and poems, his honesty and courage, have inspired, emboldened, affirmed, and electrified countless LGBTQ Appalachians after him. Jeff Mann is the godfather of queer Appalachian literature, and Loving Mountains, Loving Men is an urtext.”—Ann Pancake, author of Strange as This Weather Has Been
"Mann’s groundbreaking memoir has not aged in the nearly two decades since its first publication. His seamless mixture of prose and poetry continues to inform with relevance and insight what it means to be a gay man in Appalachia. Although Mann’s talent as a poet is notable not only in the poems but also in the prose, I am reminded rereading the collection that he’s also a truly gifted storyteller who transforms memoir into a page turner blending ‘loveliness and ferocity.’”—Marc Harshman, poet laureate of West Virginia and cowinner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award
“With a nod to deconstruction, Jeff Mann artfully explodes socially constructed identity binaries, in his case that of being both a proud Appalachian and a gay man. He weaves the story of his life with poetry and prose, revealing vulnerability and fierceness. As an educator, I have witnessed the profound impact of Loving Mountains, Loving Men on all of my students, but in particular, my gay students.”—Theresa L. Burriss, author of Appalachia in the Classroom: Teaching the Region
“A unique testimonial to the role of place in defining the self. No other author considered here captures both the pains and joys of being Appalachian so adeptly."—Journal of Appalachian Studies