Sandifer officiated gay wedding ceremonies throughout the 1970s. At a 1958 Mattachine Society meeting, Sandifer was referred to as "the only queer from the South" (quotes from Outweek, June 27, 1990).
Sandifer fought for gay, lesbian, women's, elderly, laborer, prisoner, and minority causes, creating a wide network of humanitarian affiliations and memberships. His grassroots work aimed to change the status quo and fill gaps in government social services through education, legal, and monetary support services. His organizational projects include the Mississippi Gay Alliance (MGA) where he was director from 1973-1989; the Jackson Gray Panthers (JGP) where he was project director from 1976-1987; and the Persons with AIDS Project (PWA), an MGA offshoot, where he was director from 1982-1989. He was also on the board of directors for the Mississippi Health Systems Agency from 1982-1986, the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform from 1982-1986, and the National Gray Panthers Health Watch Task Force. He also served as a member of the Workers World Party and the People's Anti-War Mobilization (PAM).
His papers are held at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. The collection comprises organizational records and personal papers of Mississippi civil rights activist Edgar Sandifer, 1929-1997. Organizational materials include his administrative, financial, promotional, and legal records as part of the Mississippi Gay Alliance (MGA), Persons with AIDS/HIV Project (PWA), Jackson Gray Panthers (JGP), and People's Anti-War Mobilization (PAM). The personal materials include photographs, memorabilia, and personal papers.
Men Like That: A Southern Queer History by John Howard
Paperback: 418 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (July 2001)
Amazon: Men Like That: A Southern Queer History
We don't usually associate thriving queer culture with rural America, but John Howard's unparalleled history of queer life in the South persuasively debunks the myth that same-sex desires can't find expression outside the big city. In fact, this book shows that the nominally conservative institutions of small-town life—home, church, school, and workplace—were the very sites where queer sexuality flourished. As Howard recounts the life stories of the ordinary and the famous, often in their own words, he also locates the material traces of queer sexuality in the landscape: from the farmhouse to the church social, from sports facilities to roadside rest areas.
Spanning four decades, Men Like That complicates traditional notions of a post-WWII conformist wave in America. Howard argues that the 1950s, for example, were a period of vibrant queer networking in Mississippi, while during the so-called "free love" 1960s homosexuals faced aggressive oppression. When queer sex was linked to racial agitation and when key civil rights leaders were implicated in homosexual acts, authorities cracked down and literally ran the accused out of town.
In addition to firsthand accounts, Men Like That finds representations of homosexuality in regional pulp fiction and artwork, as well as in the number one pop song about a suicidal youth who jumps off the Tallahatchie Bridge. And Howard offers frank, unprecedented assessments of outrageous public scandals: a conservative U.S. congressman caught in the act in Washington, and a white candidate for governor accused of patronizing black transgender sex workers.
The first book-length history of the queer South, Men Like That completely reorients our presuppositions about gay identity and about the dynamics of country life.