Reading a legacy of black gay literature in/to Disability Studies and a Crip-of-Color Theory: Exploring the work of Joseph Beam, Essex Hemphill and Audre Lorde
Keywords:Black feminist thought, crip of color theory, literature, poetry, Black gay renaissance, HIV
This article reads works of Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, Joseph Beam, and other writers through what I name a palimpsestic practice of crip reading . The very way in which we must find and read the voices of Black gay men is by locating anthologies and reading those contributors in palimpsestic relationship to one another and to Black feminist writers and organizers. Although Black gay men and Black feminists of the 1980’s and 1990’s engaged with cancer and HIV in their writings, they are often considered as part of different political, cultural, and intellectual legacies than is often included in the field of Disability Studies. A palimpsestic reading of their works as entangled with each other reveals new genealogies of crip activist and cultural work. By this I mean that Black queer and/or feminist writing exist in a palimpsest relationship with Disability Studies; one can read the layers of thought through one another. A palimpsestic reading also proposes that cultural workers presumed to be outside the sphere of Disability Studies are, in fact, central to creating a crip-of-color theory.
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