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Casey Parks delves into a story of sexuality and tolerance in the old rural South

These days, Casey Parks is a successful journalist for the Washington Post. But 20 years ago she was a teenager in Louisiana, struggling with her sexuality. She felt alone.

Casey Parks

Then she heard about Roy Hudgins, her grandmother’s neighbor from 60 years ago. As her grandmother put it, Hudgins was “a woman who lived as a man.”

Parks spent much of the next two decades piecing together Hudgins’ story, often from people who were unwilling to talk—at least at first. Along the way Parks began to untangle her own life story, and the troubled relationships she had with family members—especially her mother.

All that work found its way into Parks’ new book, out this week, called “Diary of a Misfit.”

Casey Parks made me laugh a lot in this interview. But she also said some things that rang deep and true with me about how the South can be so hard on people who feel like outsiders … and how those outsiders can still love it anyway. If you’re one of those outsiders, or love someone who is, I think you’ll get a lot out of this.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

  • Lobo Loco, "Escape Backdoor—Delay" and "Allright in Louisiana"

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.