Sexuality

LGBTQ+ memoir ‘Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina’

Proudly pay our respects to Gene

Todays featured article is all about an inspirational person who always dreamt of one day living their truth. Sadly John “Gene” E.Dawson grew up in a time when LGBTQ+ rights were not as acceptable as they are today and had to endure some horrific backlash because of their identity.

Sadly the first time Gene was able to go out in drag in public without the fear of being arrested was on Halloween. Gene’s story is a true reality call for all our readers that we must never forget about the people within the LGBTQ+ community who came before us and fought for our rights.

Proudly would never have been possible without strong influential people like Gene who lived in the United States during difficult moments that have shaped history such as the Great Depression and two World Wars.

Either it be Gene or Miss Gina, we at Proudly are incredibly grateful for your bravery and we are thankful to share your story on our Proudly platform.

Here is everything you need to know about the inspirational life of Gene and Miss Gina.

An introduction into John “Gene” E. Dawson’s life

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, John “Gene” E. Dawson was growing up in a poor farm family in the Midwest United States. He worked hard on the farm with his dad and younger brothers but felt a kinship with his mother and aunts for more traditional “girly” things.

“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a girl,” he wrote this past June. “My thought was you were how you dressed. I was perplexed at why my hair was not a girl’s hair. I enjoyed wearing my mother’s heels and was disappointed that they didn’t come in my size.”

– John “Gene” E. Dawson on always contemplating his gender
John “Gene” E. Dawson at a young age
Gene as a young “farm boy” (early 1940s)

He writes in his memoir, Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina, which was released earlier this year, that he didn’t realize what all this meant. And when he figured it out in his late teens/the early 20s, he didn’t know how to reconcile his feelings with his upbringing.

“I would determine through willpower that I would wipe out all aspects of so-called homosexuality in myself, get married, and be like the rest of the ‘normal’ folks in the family and community,” he wrote in his book. “Of course, I would falter because I couldn’t banish the temptation of same-sex attraction from my mind. I even would awaken in the dead of night with crushing thoughts of endless days working as a farmer and being married.”

– John “Gene” E. Dawson

Eventually he determined he had to move to a city where people were more open and he could live as himself. A family tragedy delayed that goal, but Gene finally was able to permanently move to St. Louis in 1963.

Gene dressed in drag to become “Miss Gina”, but still had to endure much anti-gay sentiment and work through periods of depression, anorexia, self-loathing, drinking, and abusive boyfriends. 

Miss Gina in 1985

Gene’s support circle and his life in print

Fortunately, through all of that, Gene had the love of his immediate and extended family. He kept in contact with cousins and met long-forgotten ones because of his love for genealogy.

Some of Gene’s loved ones urged him to record his memories and so, at age 72, he began handwriting out his remembrances. He handed out copies of the “book” to friends and relatives but didn’t want to push further with publishing because he was afraid some readers might not like his stories. 

Years later, at age 88, he changed his mind and decided he wanted to see his book in print. Gene hoped that his memoir might not only be a record of his childhood in the rural Midwest and adult LGBTQ+ life but also be an inspiration for younger members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Gene in 2019 (Photo courtesy of Geoff Story)
Gene in 2019 (Photo courtesy of Geoff Story)

With the help of many, Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Ginawas published in April. Gene got to enjoy hearing the reaction to his book for seven months, but sadly he passed away at the age of 89 in September. It is easy to picture him now sashaying around heaven in his beautiful dresses and makeup.

Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina (available now)

Farm Boy City Girl cover
Farm Boy City Girl book cover

Gene’s memoir is available on Amazon worldwide, and there also is much more information, photos, and a video of Gene from this past summer on the Facebook page.

Gene also will be in the upcoming documentary Gay Home Movie, which will focus on gay life in the 1940s and 1950s in St. Louis. Gene partly was inspired to see the book published after working with Gay Home Movie filmmaker Geoff Story.

Information about Gene, Geoff, and Gay Home Movie was in the story, “L.G.B.T.Q. in the Midwest, Where the Fight Is Still Happening,” in The New York Times in 2019.

Our Proudly readers can purchase Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina through Amazon below:

Amazon UK Link

Amazon USA link

Gene’s foundation

Sadly on the 22nd September 2020, The most beautiful Queen, Gene, took their final breath. We at Proudly send our deepest condolences to all of Gene’s loved ones.

We are at least thankful to know Gene got to see the success of the book before passing. Proudly urge all of our readers to read all about the incredible life of an inspirational person by checking out Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina.

Here is a touching video from Gene thanking everybody for reading the book.

We thank Tamara for bringing Gene’s story to our attention about a truly heroic and inspirational person who will never be forgotten and this story will remain in our hearts forever.

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