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He noted that for this weekend every business around downtown Pensacola seemed gay: every bar, every restaurant, and every store.
” The stranger put his hand on Abbey’s cheek and said, “Honey, the Emma Jones Society is you and me and every other faggot in this town, and nobody here gives a damn who Miss Emma Jones herself is.” Abbey was concerned that without Emma his story would fall apart. The one thing that stood out in Abbey’s mind as he interviewed attendees was that the men who were frolicking around in their underwear, or cross dressing, were bank tellers, writers, record store salesmen, etc. Abbey even noted in his story that if it weren’t for seeing them in this context, these would be the kind of guys who would take your sister home.Initially, instead of hiding, they chose the most public and crowded place they could for the holiday celebration.And that’s how the first gathering of the “Emma Jones Society” came into being.Emma Jones was one of the greatest LGBT allies in the 1960s in northern Florida. When a reporter once went looking for the mysterious woman he was told, “Honey, the Emma Jones Society is you and me and every other faggot in this town, and nobody here gives a damn who Miss Emma Jones herself is.” Emma Jones turned out to simply be a cover for a regular gay gathering on the beach in Pensacola Florida, starting on the Fourth of July in 1964.The That’s pretty remarkable considering how conservative the Panhandle of Florida is – even now it’s still known as the “Redneck Riviera.” While today the area has a handful of gay bars, back then, there was nowhere for the gays to go.
Benton Abbey was intrigued and wanted to meet this mysterious woman.