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Jesse: Man of the Streets by Carl Corley (1968)

Jesse, with his leather jacket slung over his shoulder, leans against his motorcycle.

Carl Corley is a Mississippi author/illustrator who may be unknown to many people. He wrote and illustrated over 22 gay pulp books in the 1960s and 1970s. Gay pulp books are books that were printed inexpensively on poor quality paper that feature homosexual themes. Corley also produced images for physique magazines in the 1950s and 1960s.

Carl Corley was born in 1921 in Florence, Mississippi. He spent much of his life working for the Mississippi Department of Highways and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in the art units. Corley used his life in Mississippi and Louisiana as backdrops for virtually all of his books. His work is particularly fascinating because of his focus on homosexual life in a rural environment, which was uncommon at the time.

Corley wanted to be taken seriously as a writer and an illustrator. In a time when gay pulp novels were written by people using pen names, Corley signed all of his books and illustrations except for one. The publisher of The Different and the Damned required that the book be published anonymously because he worked for a state government.

Jesse: Man of the Streets
is the story of a Native American, bisexual hustler from Mississippi living in Baton Rouge. This book is particularly interesting because the first person narrator is a female which Corley only uses in one other book. The cover of Jesse: Man of the Streets is illustrated by Corley.

The novels of Carl Corley provide an important glimpse into the author's experiences and perceptions of being gay and living in rural Mississippi and Louisiana. McCain Library & Archives owns 14 books by Carl Corley. If you are interested in viewing these items, visit the 3rd floor of McCain Library or contact Jennifer Brannock at jennifer.brannock@usm.edu or 601.266.4347.

For additional information on Carl Corley, see

Howard, John. Men Like That: A Southern Queer History. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1999. (Cook Library HQ76.3.U52 M74 2001)

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Text by Jennifer Brannock, Special Collections Librarian
E-mail:jennifer.brannock@usm.edu