The Miraculous Masculinity of Gladys Bentley

Gladys Bentley: blues singer, tuxedo wearer and lady lover. In the words of Saidiya Hartman in her book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, “Bentley was abundant flesh, art in motion.”1 In the words of Bentley herself, from 1952 when she had left the stage and all that came with it, “a big, successful star – andContinue reading “The Miraculous Masculinity of Gladys Bentley”

Mabel Hampton, Lillian Foster, and Mid-Century Black Butch/Femme

Mabel Hampton and Lillian Foster have left a material, tangible legacy in a way that cannot be said of many in the lesbian communities of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. This is especially true when it comes to Black lesbians, and Black butch/femme lesbians (or butch/fem, stud/fem, etc); verbal histories slip away easily, and marginalisedContinue reading “Mabel Hampton, Lillian Foster, and Mid-Century Black Butch/Femme”

Black Feminism and Lesbian Fashion (The Material is Political)

One of the principles of second-wave feminism was the concept that “the personal is political.” This meant that the lives of oppressed people are as political and as attention-worthy as governmental politics. The material conditions of people’s lives are vital to analyse if we are to understand our various positions in the world, the thingsContinue reading “Black Feminism and Lesbian Fashion (The Material is Political)”

Black Butch Wonder: The Clothing of Stormé Delarverie

There are many stories, opinions and think-pieces about Stormé Delarverie floating around the internet, many of them arguing what her role was in the Stonewall uprisings of 1969 or, more recently, her pronouns/gender identity. As a precursor to this post, I want to state that I have thought about these discourses and, as Delarverie wasContinue reading “Black Butch Wonder: The Clothing of Stormé Delarverie”