April 2, 2021: John "Gene" E. Dawson was well-known to many St. Louisans as “Miss Gina.” He passed in 2020, having just published his autobiography – Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina.
His book details life growing up in Depression-era Iowa in a poor farming Irish-Catholic family and his adult years spent living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and St. Louis. He offers a rare glimpse into the Mid-20th Century history of both rural Iowa and of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Middle America-told by one who was there.
Gene was interviewed for the article, "L.G.B.T.Q. in the Midwest, Where the Fight Is Still Happening," which was in The New York Times in May 2019. As well, an excerpt from Gene's book was included in Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America, which was published in January 2021.
The St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community is fortunate to have Gene's memoirs that document his journey and experiences. So often life stories are lost or incomplete.
Gene’s book has received several important honors including:
-Finalist, First Non-Fiction, Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards, 2020
-Runner Up, Nonfiction-Memoir, PenCraft Awards, 2020
-Honorable Mention, LGBT, Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, 2020
-Finalist, LGBTQ: Non-Fiction, American Book Fest Best Book Awards, 2020
-Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, Best LGBT Memoir, National Association of Book Entrepreneurs, Summer 2020