“As proud of our gayness, as we are of our blackness”: Raceing sexual rhetorics in the national coalition of black lesbians and gays

Eric Darnell Pritchard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Audre Lorde spoke these words in a February 1982 speech titled “Learning from the 60s,” delivered at Harvard University’s “Malcolm X Weekend.” In the epigraph, and the longer speech from which it is drawn, Lorde challenges us to look upon the activism and social transformation of the 1960s with clear eyes, open hearts, gratitude, healthy skepticism, and feeling accountable to what the work of freedom and justice calls one to do in their own times so that they too may do the necessary work of creating possible futures. Lorde, who lived in and contributed to the social transformation of the 1960s, was compelled to engage the problematic ways in which the diversity and complexity of Black life and culture is ignored in the fantasy of sameness over the reality of difference. Taking this point then, we are left with the challenge of looking upon histories of the 1960s, and in particular the Black civil rights and burgeoning gay and lesbian rights movement, with a “persistence in examining the tensions within diversity” on our efforts to reach the fullest expression of freedom and justice for the many (Lorde 135). For Lorde, that “many” was more a question of who could be in a collective rather than solely a consideration of who already presumed to be in it. That is, Lorde’s vision of transformative justice envisioned a collective that included many who may have been hesitant to join the struggle, but whose lives (whether they realized it or not) depended on their being a part of a coalition with individuals whose concerns were also urgent, cross cutting, and complex, such as heterosexual Black women and men, White feminists, and White LGBT people. Through this work, we also simultaneously make legible the presence and contributions of people like Lorde to the civil and gay and lesbian rights movements. Such change is necessary since Lorde and other Black LGBT rhetors slip in and out of historical recognition in narratives about the civil rights, Black power, and LGBT and feminist movements.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSexual Rhetorics
Subtitle of host publicationMethods, Identities, Publics
EditorsJonathan Alexander, Jacqueline Rhodes
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages159-174
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317442677
ISBN (Print)9781138906877
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2015

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Pritchard, E. D. (2015). “As proud of our gayness, as we are of our blackness”: Raceing sexual rhetorics in the national coalition of black lesbians and gays. In J. Alexander, & J. Rhodes (Eds.), Sexual Rhetorics: Methods, Identities, Publics (pp. 159-174). Taylor and Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315695341-20