Publication Type: Individual PresentationReview Method: Peer ReviewedAbstract: Through a feminist lens, this presentation will center on the lives of Gladys Bentley, a blues singer during the Harlem Renaissance and A’Lelia Walker, the daughter of Madam CJ Walker and patroness of the Harlem Renaissance. Bentley was known for “flaunting” her lesbianism and transgendered appearance, while Walker hosted queer theme parties.
Using archival evidence, I am interested in the ways that scholars include and exclude these women in/from a queer history through gender and sexuality, while often ignoring how racial dynamics and constraints also attributes to their queerness. My attempt is to both give awareness to these two figures and to look at their lives in a larger framework of Black Women’s histories and how their queerness should be articulated beyond sexuality and gender. This project comes out of a larger legacy to dismantle the “master’s tools” of heteronormativity and re-write fixed notions of Black women’s sexuality and queer history.
I place these two women’s marginalized histories in conversation with each other because not only do they redefine heteronormativity but they also articulate a multi-faceted approach of analyzing and articulating queerness.
Publication Type: Individual PaperAbstract: Gladys Bentley and A’lelia Walker: Queering Black Women’s History