Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in the LGBT Community

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Audre Lorde (1934–1992) (Wikimedia Commons)

Audre Lorde, as she described herself, was "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." Lorde's unapologetic reclamation of herself, her fierce commitment to social justice around race, gender, and sexuality, and her brilliant poetry and prose have been indispensable to today's African American LGBTQ community, as well as to several fields of inquiry like black feminist thought and black queer studies. Lorde established her reputation as a poet in the 1970s with the publication of several collections, most notably Coal (1976) and The Black Unicorn (1978), with lyrics that expressed rage against racial injustice as well as intimacy of same-sex desire. Lorde is also the author of several important works of prose. The Cancer Journals (1980) offers a powerful account of her experience dealing with breast cancer; Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982) stands out for its experimental form of "biomythography," a genre encompassing autobiography, myth, and history; and Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984) collects together signal essays like "Poetry Is Not a Luxury," "Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power," and "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House." Not only a major poet and prose writer, Lorde was also a consummate institutional builder in the U.S. and abroad. She was an active member of Combahee River Collective and published with The Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press; played a key role in the Afro-German consciousness movement in the late 1980s; and co-founded several organization in St. Croix with her partner, Dr. Gloria I. Joseph.

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