John "Gene" E. Dawson
John "Gene" E. Dawson also was known as "Miss Gina" in his younger days. He considers himself a farmer at heart and also worked in factories and as a waiter, beautician, and tax preparer. Gene never forgot what he learned in his Aunt Mary O'Rourke Agnew's English classes and used those skills to begin writing Farm Boy, City Girl at age 72. He lives in St. Louis.
Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina
Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina details John “Gene” E. Dawson’s life growing up in Depression-era Iowa in a poor farming Irish-Catholic family and his adult years spent living on the LGBTQ cultural edge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and St. Louis.
Part One, Farm Boy 1931–1949: Gene recounts his years growing up in the Great Depression, moving with his family from rental farm to rental farm until his parents could afford to purchase their own land and home. Life was difficult and often brutal for anyone during this time, but especially so for a gender-fluid gay child/teenager.
Part Two, Transition and Tragedy 1950–1959: Gene initially leaves the farm and begins transitioning into his new life as a gay man in the cities of Cedar Rapids and St. Louis. But the tragic accidental death of his mother forces him to move back to his family’s home where he faces gut-wrenching family drama.
Part Three, City Girl 1960–: Gene returns to Cedar Rapids before finally moving on to live as Miss Gina in St. Louis. Even in the city though, life was quite hard for openly gay men, and Gene recounts multiple harrowing tales.