Blackface entertainers; Civil rights; Comedy; Gay men; Homophobia; Minstrel shows; Misogyny; Racism


“It’s amazing to me that even the rampant homophobia in the South doesn’t put a dent in the sense of racial privilege presumed by the white gay men who patronize this clear example of racism and misogyny disguised as entertainment.” Lecia Brooks, the education director for the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama, gave this statement to Rolling Stone magazine in 2007 to explain her protests against comedian Charles Knipp, known on stage as Shirley Q. Liquor. While Knipp’s jokes are racist, the major issue with his performances, as Brooks tells us, is his use of blackface minstrelsy as his act. Knipp, a white gay man, dons a large muumuu and masquerades as “a welfare mother with nineteen kids who guzzles malt liquor, drives a Caddy and says in an ‘ignunt’ Gulf Coast black dialect, ‘I’m gonna burn me up some chitlins and put some ketchup on there and aks [sic] Jesus to forgive my sins.’”