A fizzy tale of civil rights, quaaludes and music…When stories such as these get told, it is a cause for celebration.—Elon Green, The New York Times Book Review
A portrait of the wild and wooly Atlanta of the 1970s, when the crickets of a thousand back yards gave way to the pounding 4/4 beat of Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor.—Bo Emerson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Baroque and beautiful, celebratory and tragic, Martin Padgett has written a deeply-researched and profoundly-important dispatch from a hinge moment in the history of the American South, when a man named Hot Chocolate danced with a man named R.C. Cola, dressed in a ‘cluster of grapes and not much more,’ and Atlanta emerged as a citadel of drag and a beacon of possibilities.—John T Edge, author of The Potlikker Papers
This was my youth. I was there. I experienced it all. I was interviewed by Martin several times when he was writing the book. Bravo, Martin! You have captured it all beautifully!—Leslie Jordan, actor
The 1970s was a decade of enormous consequence for queer communities across the nation. In A Night at the Sweet Gum Head, Martin Padgett brilliantly illuminates Atlanta as a microcosm of this social and sexual revolution. Conjuring a cavalcade of intimate personal portraits, deftly placed in vividly written panoramas of social change, he boldly brings to life the experiences of people in one night club in one city. A Night at the Sweet Gum Head captures the swirl and excitement of personal and community discovery that created the world in which we live today.
—Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States
I loved this book from the first moment I heard about it: an excavation of a hidden world brimming with character and humor and panache and courage (a friend of the author names his last two T-cells ‘Itsy and Bitsy’), with a backdrop of ‘drag, drugs, and disco’—told by a man once closeted in Birmingham, for whom Atlanta’s gay bars turned out to be the gates to freedom and to lasting love. In ‘quiet drinking bars, fancy fern bars, glamorous lesbian bars, hot disco bars, and seedy hustler bars,’ the gay revolution raged on, post-Stonewall, in the South, in the closing decades of the 20th century. Martin Padgett reports on the legendary folks just before his time who created safe spaces, welcoming spaces, dazzling spaces. We all know the name Stonewall; it’s time for us to learn about its Southern sister: the Sweet Gum Head.—Melissa Fay Greene, author of The Underdogs