In March of 2019, I spent a month in the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center of the SF Public Library, researching the history of San Francisco Bay Area Black queer and trans folks. I was funded as part of the Show Us Your Spines residency program for QTPOC writers and artists. The program was created and administered by Radar Productions, a Bay Area-based queer and trans arts incubator, in conjunction with the Hormel Center.
With so many books and so much archival material at my disposal, I chose to focus on queer Black queer women’s communities in Oakland and Berkeley, California, with an emphasis on the early 1980s. Paging through Black queer women’s letters, periodicals, posters, and poetry collections was like walking backward in time. I witnessed in writing and pictures the many ways that the small and closely-knit Black women’s community of the time supported its members and navigated rapidly changing ideas around gender, sexuality, and identity.
My 21st-century sensibility was alternately amused and amazed (in both good ways and bad) by the ideas, activities, and debates that shaped Black queer women’s lives in this place and time. The next ten comics are my record of this deep dive into queer history.