Black Queer Studies

A Critical Anthology

Black Queer Studies

Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: Published: November 2005

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies

While over the past decade a number of scholars have done significant work on questions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered identities, this volume is the first to collect this groundbreaking work and make black queer studies visible as a developing field of study in the United States. Bringing together essays by established and emergent scholars, this collection assesses the strengths and weaknesses of prior work on race and sexuality and highlights the theoretical and political issues at stake in the nascent field of black queer studies. Including work by scholars based in English, film studies, black studies, sociology, history, political science, legal studies, cultural studies, and performance studies, the volume showcases the broadly interdisciplinary nature of the black queer studies project.

The contributors consider representations of the black queer body, black queer literature, the pedagogical implications of black queer studies, and the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies. Whether exploring the closet as a racially loaded metaphor, arguing for the inclusion of diaspora studies in black queer studies, considering how the black lesbian voice that was so expressive in the 1970s and 1980s is all but inaudible today, or investigating how the social sciences have solidified racial and sexual exclusionary practices, these insightful essays signal an important and necessary expansion of queer studies.

Contributors. Bryant K. Alexander, Devon Carbado, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Keith Clark, Cathy Cohen, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jewelle Gomez, Phillip Brian Harper, Mae G. Henderson, Sharon P. Holland, E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Dwight A. McBride, Charles I. Nero, Marlon B. Ross, Rinaldo Walcott, Maurice O. Wallace


Black Queer Studies is a treasure trove of insight and critical awareness…. [C]hallenging, inspiring, and welcome.” — Chris Bell, Cercles

“[A]n important collection for both Black and Queer theorists/activists alike: it tips its hat to the past, attempts to make sense of the present, and paves the way for a refreshed future.”
— Esperanza Miyake, Sexualities

“Cogent, dealing well with some of the race/gender topics addressed intelligently in studies such as William Hawkeswood's One of the Children (1996) and Roderick Ferguson's Aberrations in Black (2004).  Recommended.” — R B Shuman, Choice

"Insightful. . . . From the racial segregation that can occur in gay neighborhoods to current debates about the depiction of black gays and lesbians in film, many of the essays pursue important questions about sexual and racial identity. . . . Each of these essays feels more like a prayer, a kind you'd hope to hear in church: a calm and quiet attempt to speak to the complex fears and thoughts that trouble all our hearts." — Quinn Eli, News & Observer

"Years from now Black Queer Studies will be hailed as a manifesto for a discipline that demands a name, a voice and a home in academia. . . . Merging the personal, political, and conjectural, these offerings pack street punch and ring with everyday relevance. . . . [T]his book is a milestone." — Tara Lake, Girlfriends

Black Queer Studies makes a dynamic contribution to the shifting landscape of queer studies. This volume will surely transform our understandings of both black studies and queer studies, and it will create new idioms for the analysis and theorization of race and sexuality. Black Queer Studies is necessary and long overdue.” — Judith Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity

“There are moments of epistemological excitement that recognize changes already ongoing, and then there are moments that at the same time both recognize and generate new ways of knowing. The creation of Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology is such a moment. It changes our horizons of thought. I’m excited about its effect on my thinking and grateful to the contributors and editors for the boundary stretching.” — Wahneema Lubiano, editor of The House That Race Built

“This fine collection of essays demonstrates the importance of black queer quests and questions.” — Jennifer DeVere Brody, author of Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity, and Victorian Culture


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

E. Patrick Johnson is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, also published by Duke University Press

Mae G. Henderson is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the editor of Borders, Boundaries, and Frames: Essays in Cultural Criticism and Cultural Studies and coeditor of the five-volume Antislavery Newspapers and Periodicals: An Annotated Index of Letters, 1817–1871.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Foreword: “Home” Is a Four-Letter Word / Sharon P. Holland ix

Introduction: Queering Black Studies/ “Quaring” Queer Studies / E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson 1


Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics? / Cathy J. Cohen 21

Race-ing Homonormativity: Citizenship, Sociology, and Gay Identity / Roderick A. Ferguson 52

Straight Black Studies: On African American Studies, James Baldwin, and Black Queer Studies / Dwight A. McBride 68

Outside in Black Studies: Reading from a Queer Place in the Diaspora / Rinaldo Walcott 90

The Evidence of Felt Intuition: Minority Evidence, Everyday Life, and Critical Speculative Knowledge / Phillip Brian Harper 106

“Quare” Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother / E. Patrick Johnson 124


Beyond the Closet as Raceless Paradigm / Marlon B. Ross 161

Privilege / Devon W. Carbado 190

“Joining the Lesbians”: Cinematic Regimes of Black Lesbian Visibility / Kara Keeling 213

Why Are Gay Ghettoes White? / Charles I. Nero 228


Embracing the Teachable Moment: The Black Gay Body in the Classroom as Embodied Text / Bryant Keith Alexander 249

Are We Family? Pedagogy and the Race for Queerness / Keith Clark 266

On Being a Witness: Passion, Pedagogy, and the Legacy of James Baldwin / Maurice O. Wallace 276


But Some of Us Are Brave Lesbians: The Absence of Black Lesbian Fiction / Jewelle Gomez 289

James Baldwin‘s Giovanni‘s Room: Expatriation, “Racial Drag,” and Homosexual Panic / Mae G. Henderson 298

Robert O‘Hara‘s Insurrection: “Que(e)rying History” / Faedra Chatard Carpenter 323

Bibliography 349

Contributors 371

Index 375
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3618-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3629-7
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