This Lesbian Caucus sponsored session explores how we recall, identify, and describe Black lesbian experiences. What are the epistemological barriers for knowing and seeing these unfixed and dynamic identities? Pat Parker’s poem “Language” encapsulates the ways in which this identity is both loosely defined and clearly circumscribed (the circle of us). We will explore the creative/scholarly practices of uncovering and deeply knowing Black lesbian identities, while identifying lexicons, engaging unsung yet influential writers, and interrogating the self. We will uncover the practices of labor and love by Black lesbians who do the necessary work of carving identity through creative production.
“I’m a Woman, A Ball of Fire” -Bettina Judd
This project explores dimensions of lesbian gender that are rooted in a Blues aesthetic grounded in U.S. Southern, Black working-class expressions of gender and sexuality and reflected in Hip Hop culture. Hip-Hop/Blues aesthetics in lesbian gender reveal that gender is not only a marker of difference or an analytic category, but is tied to an aesthetic practice of pleasure and survival. Taking up KoKo Taylor’s “I’m a Woman,” as an instructive for a Blues description of what it means to be woman (woa-mn), this project re-imagines lesbian desire as an aesthetics of gender performance.