Audre Lorde: Black lesbian feminist poet activist. (1934-1992). Women’s History Month

In my last blog, I wrote about Jeanne Manford, a gay rights activist, straight mother and school teacher in New York.  It’s important that you educate your LGBT children so they know that the advancement of gay rights in this country was paved by those who battled for those rights.  During this Women’s History Month, March, another name you should know is Audre Lorde.

Audre Lorde was born in 1934 in New York. Her parents were from St. Croix.  She attended Catholic schools before graduating from Hunter High School.  It was at Hunter that she published her first poem in Seventeen magazine.  She would excel at poetry and in 1991-92, she was the Poet-Laureate of New York.

She earned her B.A. from Hunter College and MLS from Columbia University. Lorde was a Professor of English at John Jay and Hunter College and received a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. She was a librarian in the New York public schools throughout the 1960’s. In later years, she was poet-in-residence at Tougaloo College.

Her early collections of poetry include The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), and From a Land Where Other People Live (1972) was nominated for a National Book Award.  New York Head Shop and Museum (1974), Coal (1976), and The Black Unicorn (1978) are poems of protest against white power. All her poems were a call for social and racial justice as well as a depiction of queer experience and sexuality. Lorde did not like the marginalization of categories such as “lesbian” and “black woman.”  But in her public appearances, according to Bartleby, she introduced herself the same way: “I am a Black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet. ”

Lorde also wrote prose.  She wrote about her struggle to overcome breast cancer and mastectomy in The Cancer Journals (1980). A year later, she and fellow writers Cherrie Mortaga and Barbara Smith founded Kitchen Table:  Women of Color Press for black feminists.  She wrote a novel in 1982:  Zami:  A New Spelling of My Name.  Her Sister Outsider:  Essays and Speeches ( 1984) was well known in courses for Black studies, women’s studies, and queer theory. Here is a quote from Sister Outsider:  “What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities.  And in order for us to do this, we must allow each other our differences at the same time as we recognize our sameness. Identity is a state of mind/in which someone recognizes/identifies their character traits that leads to finding out who they are and what they do and not that of someone else.  In other words, it’s basically who you are and what you define yourself as being.” source:  https: //

Lorde won the National Book Award for the Burst of Light in 1988.  In 1997, The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde was published in 1997.  Warrior Poet (2006) by Alexis de Veaux was published in 2006.

Lorde had two children with her white, gay husband, Edwin Rollins.  They divorced in 1970.  Two years later, she met her long-time partner Frances Clayton and they co-parented.

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Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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