Activism in Unsympathetic Environments: Queer Black Authors’ Responses to Local Histories of Oppression
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Michelle Commander, Gichingiri Ndigirigi, Patrick Grzanka
Queer black authors use locality as a strategy for incorporating difference into the definitions of a national or communal identity. Rather than universalizing the concept of tolerance or assimilating into hateful practices, these writers respond to anti-gay atmospheres by positioning themselves and other LGBT black citizens as integral to nation-building efforts. This conscious attempt to empower the minority makes the texts activist in nature. Furthermore, the activist effects of these literatures complement advocacy groups that strive to support LGBT populations in the same areas. Tendai Huchu’s Hairdresser of Harare (Zimbabwe), Nkunzi Nkabinde’s Black Bull, Ancestors and Me (South Africa), Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories (America), and Dee Rees’ film Pariah (America) serve as examples of various modes of this literary activism. The intellectual goal for this project is to destabilize the normative victim narrative attached to most analyses of queer black literature and to understand the agency that accompanies racial and sexual representations.
Williams, Jewel Lashelle, "Activism in Unsympathetic Environments: Queer Black Authors’ Responses to Local Histories of Oppression. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2019.