Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies

First Advisor

Andy Harper

Second Advisor

John Rash

Third Advisor

Zaire Love


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



This MFA thesis accompanies a short documentary film encompassing a “passing of the torch” story between Eric White (GoDiva Holliday) and his drag daughter, Justin Tyler (DeePression Holliday.) After twenty years of performing and directing drag shows in Tupelo, MS, White makes the decision to let go of his passion and focus on himself. He ensures that his drag daughter, Holbrook, carries on the legacy of creating LGTBQ spaces in the conservative South. This story will also touch on the familial relationship between the two drag performers who both grew up in small-town Mississippi but in different eras. The work highlights the importance of queer families (or the families we create outside of our biological families) in order to survive and thrive in predominantly conservative towns. I am interested in this work because there is a lack of research and documentation of LGBTQ life in north Mississippi. This is partially due to the theory of metronormativity, or the idea that queer life can only exist and thrive in more prominent urban places such as Atlanta, LA, or New York City. While there is evidence that LGBTQ communities exist on a more extensive basis in these areas, metronormativity is harmful and alienates small and rural LGBTQ communities. By acknowledging that queer spaces exist in rural and small towns (such as Tupelo, MS, which is where my work is focused), we can begin researching and collecting stories from LGBTQ communities that otherwise would not have been listened to.



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