Newton, P. J.
In this interview, PJ Newton gives insight into her early life growing up as a young lesbian in Booneville, Mississippi, as well as her experiences as a gay bar owner and drag performance director in the state of Mississippi. PJ is a 59-year-old lesbian woman who was born and raised in Booneville, MS. She came out at age 14, and began to go to Memphis to see drag performances. PJ worked in a factory in Corinth after high school and began to go to drag shows in Tupelo, sometimes moonlighting as a drag king. She opened the gay bar O’Hara’s in Tupelo in the mid-1990s, and held drag shows there weekly. In 2013, after a hiatus, PJ sought to reopen O’Hara’s but was denied a license by the town of Shannon, MS. With the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Newton successfully sued the town for discrimination. Today, PJ runs a drag circuit under the O’Hara’s name, but does not own a bar. This interview was conducted as a part of the Queer Mississippi Oral History Project through a grant from the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi, in partnership with the Invisible Histories Project, in the summer of 2019.
Newton, P. J. and Schultz, David Hooper, "Newton, P. J." (2019). Queer Mississippi Oral History Project. 13.