A Month Of Our LGBTQ+ Heroes: Audre Lorde, poet and author

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As I reflect on my LGBTQIA+ hero amid the current anti-racism protests, I am reminded of all the many activists who marched before us – who used their voice and platform to amplify and support the Civil Rights Movement and Equal Rights Movement. I am reminded that it is because of Black leaders that we celebrate Pride this month.

For me, one voice rises above the rest when I think of influential queer women. Audre Lorde – self-described as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” – was an integral part of shaping feminist and womanist thought and lesbian culture throughout the twentieth century.

Audre Lorde was born in 1934 in Harlem, New York, to two immigrant parents. At the age of four, Lorde learned to talk, read, and write. She wrote her first poem in eighth grade, and by the time she graduated high school, had already been published in Seventeen Magazine. While in college, Lorde came out as a lesbian (about 15 years before the Stonewall Riots) and was very active in gay culture in Greenwich Village. As an author, she wrote about intersectionality between sexual orientation, gender identity, and race, about raising your voice against oppression, and about radical self-visibility for any population facing discrimination or marginalization.

“The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.” – Audre Lorde

For me, as a bisexual woman in a heterosexual marriage, I told myself for many years that I was not “allowed” to celebrate Pride. In the past, I stayed home and stayed silent. I believed that since I never had a public “coming out” moment, it meant that I was not proud. However, this is not true. I am proud, and now, more than ever, it is important that I also be visible in an effort to unite as one voice to work together for a brighter future for everyone.

“When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed, but when we are silent, we are still afraid, so it is better to speak.” – Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde is my LGBT hero because her life’s work encouraged visibility, courage, and the confrontation of injustices. In a time where society was significantly less accepting of the LGBT community, Lorde was unapologetic about who she was. Lorde imagined a world where personal identity was not just associated with the visual aspect of a person. Unfortunately, as seen by the current protests against police brutality against Black people, it is abundantly clear – we still have a long way to go.

 


 

The 14th Street Y invites you to tune into our PRIDE 365: Live Free, Love Fierce series, a virtual event series celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

We want to honor the LGBTQIA+ community and welcome them to our virtual community center where they can celebrate who they are loud and proud. At the 14th Street Y and Educational Alliance, everyone is welcome here.

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