“I won’t be here 300 years from now, but I hope this earth and others will be, and maybe some- thing I’ve said will contribute to making that more possible.”—Audre Lorde, Above the Wind (via blackfeminismlives)
The word came to me: “Georgia passed this morning.” For morning after morning, I heard your voice. You said, I have endured so much but I know I have to endure more. You told me about your father and growing up in Georgia, how you worked with him to lay the food market’s floor and I heard the love for him in your voice through all the miles between us. Never had we been so close as in your final months—the word final sticks in my throat. The triangle of love between Paula, you and me—Let’s talk memories, you said and we did. The Black Lesbian Studies Group you ran in the dining room of 13A, way back in the 1970s, the LHA slide show trip you, me and Deb took to Boston, the coldness of the night, and how we walked the streets trying to find some warm food, and laughed and laughed. Off Broadway should dim its lights tonight, for the love you had for the wonder that was the theater, sometimes lugging your oxygen tank from Hoboken to Broadway. We spoke of old lesbians friends, you listened while I read Ms Hampton’s words to you of her North Carolina childhood and I promised you I would read Cheryl Clarke’s new speech to you. We laughed with delight at De Blasio’s win and spoke of our memories of the Combahee River Collective, with Chirlane in the midst of it. Look at her now. Every morning for so long as the nurses turned you, as your friends brought you bologna sandwiches, your favorite, as you kept trying to take responsibility for your own care, always thanking those who touched you with care but firm in your needs, your knowledge of the body you had managed for so long, the telephone putting me at your bedside and you in our dining room. I would tell you of Melbourne weather, of the parakeets in the gum trees, trying to give you moments of relief, of flying out of the room that held you. You are loved by so many, dear Georgia for all you were, for the caring you gave others even when your body did not know itself anymore, I am grateful you would say, it’s a journey, you would say, exactly you would say when we took the same breath. Now I know the full weight of living so far away from where our lives met. How I would like to be with Paula, Deb. Morgan, talking of your dignity and strength of purpose, of your love for the archives, your second home, you said. I love you very much, you told all those who some how managed to be there with you, with your final moments of strength you loved.
In the late ’40s, 1950s and 1960s, it was hard to find images of black lesbians in popular fiction, particularly on the covers. Lesbian pulp fiction, as it’s now known, wasn’t known for its racial diversity. Here’s a handful of lesbian pulp fiction covers, along with the bible of lesbian coming out reading back in the day: The Well of Loneliness. …We’ve come a long, long way.
"Denial of Equality of Opportunity Is Immoral." From the photo collection of Kay Tobin Lahusen at the New York Public Library, documenting a march on the White House, October 1965. Ernestine Eckstein was heavily involved in the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, and was the cover image of the June 1966 issue of The Ladder.
“We need, each of us, to begin the awesome, difficult work of love: loving ourselves so that we become able to love other people without fear so that we can become powerful enough to enlarge the circle of our trust and our common striving for a safe, sunny afternoon near to flowering trees and under a very blue sky.”—June Jordan
Twice Militant: Lorraine Hansberry's Letters to "The Ladder"
A new exhibition, Twice Militant: Lorraine Hansberry’s Letters to “The Ladder,” examines a lesser-known aspect of the life of the award-winning author of the landmark play A Raisin in the Sun, who died in 1965 at the age of thirty-four. The exhibition features documents and publications addressing Hansberry’s identification as a feminist and a lesbian, and will be on view in the Herstory Gallery of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art [in New York City] from November 22, 2013, through March 16, 2014. More here.
"Just before my first entrance in Oh! Joy!  Ethel Williams would go out on the stage. ‘Where’s that partner of mine?’ she’d ask the orchestra leader. ‘Where’s that Ethel Waters? What can be keeping her?’ And she’d look all over the stage for me, behind the curtain, in the wings, and for a laugh, under the rug. She’d mutter, ‘How can I start our act without that gal?’ After all that build-up I’d come out—in a funny hat and a gingham apron that was a gem. I was slim, and when Ethel would ask, ‘Are you Ethel Waters?’ I’d answer, ‘I ain’t Bessie Smith.’ Those two lines would wow the audience. Then I’d sing the plaintive and heartbreaking song, ‘Georgia Blues.’”—Ethel Waters, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, 1950
“Within the lesbian community I am Black, and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue, because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community. Any attack against lesbians and gays is a Black issue, because thousands of lesbians and gay men are Black. There is no hierarchy of oppression.”—Audre Lorde, There is No Hierarchy of Oppression (via daughterofzami)