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1950s queer life described by Black lesbian activist in informative archive footage

Poet, academic, civil rights advocate, and intersectional feminist Audre Lorde is shown in compelling archival footage describing her experiences as a Black lesbian in the 1950s.

Lorde, who identified as a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet,” is renowned for her writings that vehemently oppose racial and sexual prejudice. She devoted her life and creative works to confronting social injustices, including racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, and capitalism.

As ‘MSN’ reports, the footage is from the 1984 film Before Stonewall, which chronicled the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals before the historic uprising in New York.

Image Credit: Canva

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a queer nightclub in Greenwich Village owned by the mafia, was raided by police officers – a relatively common occurrence for gay bars at the time. However, what ensued was far from routine. It ignited nights of resistance and demands for LGBTQ+ equality, inspiring new generations of activists to this day.

In the video, Lorde speaks with fellow activist Maua Adele Ajanaku about growing up as “outsiders,” especially within the predominantly heteronormative and white feminist circles of the 1950s and 1960s.

“You need to begin with a movement, which is what Black Power and the Civil Rights Movement was,” says Lorde.

“Then, immediately within it, you are going to get those people whose differences are not being articulated, which is us: we were outsiders, we were dykes, right?”

Lorde passed away from breast cancer at the age of 58 in November 1992 in St. Croix, part of the US Virgin Islands, where she had been living with fellow Black activist Gloria Joseph.

Read related myGwork articles here:

Celebrating UK Black History Month: Audre Lorde

Influential Queer Women from History: Audre Lorde

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