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Influential Queer Women from History: Audre Lorde

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde 

Audre Lorde was a hugely influential African-American poet who spoke out on issues of gender, sexuality, and race. Working through most of the 1960s as a librarian in New York City her life changed dramatically when in 1968 her first volume of poetry was published. Over the next decade, her work garnered much critical acclaim and many awards. As she became more politicised in her work she sharpened her technical mastery of poetry and became known for her powerful emotional expression. In 1970, she wrote the poem “Martha” which touched on her sexuality and in 1978 released The Black Unicorn, a volume that tackled her African heritage and is considered to be the greatest piece of work.

In her later years, while battling cancer, she took on an African name, Gamba Adisa, meaning “she who makes her meaning clear.

She once famously said of non-intersectional feminism: "Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support."

Find out more about Audre Lorde

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