Quinn Angelou-Lysaker Speaks on the Power of Black LGBTQ Literary Tradition

by GSBA Staff
| Feb 21, 2020

In recognizing Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ activists have had on the LGBTQ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about racial injustice in Washington State. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for a strong allyship.

First-Year GSBA Scholar Quinn Angelou-Lysaker (She/her) grew up in the Mount Baker and Beacon Hill areas of Seattle, WA and now lives in Boston, MA. She attends Boston University where she is pursuing a Political Science major with a Deaf Studies minor and is heavily involved in BU's black cultural organizations. She hopes to enter the NGO sphere working on either housing insecurity or prison reform. 

029Happy Black History Month! A word from your local black bisexual cat lady, foodie, caregiver, teacher, Rico Nasty stan, and GSBA scholar! I write this from Monterrey, Mexico where I am currently studying abroad, and this new environment has given me lots of food for thought on what Black LGBTQ pride means to me, which I'm excited to share.

My favorite part of being black and LGBTQ has always been our ethic of interdependence. Whether that be the “House” tradition of black/Latinx trans people and drag queens, or the thriving queer spaces within historically black colleges and universities today, black LGBTQ people have always created loving chosen families. My black lesbian mother was the first person to model this worldview for me. Watching her love and prioritize her friends taught me that I have nothing to gain from competition, gatekeeping, or “cancelling” my people, and everything to gain from embracing them.

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One of the blackest, queerest things I do on a regular basis is check on my friends and ask for help when I need it. I recommend bell hook's All About Love, which gives words to this ethic of mutual support. Audre Lorde's Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism and her Uses of the Erotic are also hugely influential texts in my life. Lorde proposes a life philosophy of following our intuition as a way to reclaim our agency and humanity in small ways every day, speaking as a black lesbian whose agency is always under attack. The black LGBTQ literary tradition inspires me so much, and I hope to tell my story and offer wisdom of my own someday. 

I think one of the best (and most accessible!) ways to celebrate Black History Month is to study up on some black LGBTQ leaders. The Combahee River Collective (CRC) is one amazing, often overlooked piece of black LGBTQ history. This black lesbian activist organization embodied intersectionality: the practice of generating solidarity between social movements representing various identities and collaborating so that we can all get free. I recommend that everyone read their statement and do some research on their work.

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Just like the CRC, Marsha P. Johnson's incredible leadership in the Stonewall Riots also teaches us that LGBTQ progress is not just granted in the courthouse, nor is it altruistically handed down by the right politicians. It is won through grassroots struggle, often by some of the most marginalized in our community. As a political science student, this radical tradition makes my heart sing with pride. My black LGBTQ ancestors didn't just speak truth to power. They spoke truth to their siblings about power, and they rose up against it. I hope to fight with that spirit every month of the year.

I hope this Black History Month teaches you something new and sets the tone for a whole 2020 of allyship and unity with your black community members. Thank you GSBA for this opportunity to share my thoughts! I am proud and blessed to have you all on my team! 

    -- Quinn Angelou-Lynsaker

February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA Members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long. You can dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA Member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA Members.

GSBA Members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing in GSBA community partner organizations POCAANUrban League of Metropolitan SeattleTrans Women of Color Solidarity Network, and NW African American Museum.

The GSBA Scholarship Fund is one of the oldest and most active LGBTQ scholarship programs in the country. The scholarship program works to empower students with marginalized intersectional identities within the LGBTQ+ community and provides not only financial support for LGBTQ+ students, but a network of support, skills-based workshops, and a yearly three-day leadership immersion camp. In 2019, $500,000 was invested in 50 LGBTQ+ and allied students, 46% of whom identify as trans and/or gender diverse, and 72% who identify as students of color. This year, we are proud to invest $600,000 in 60 scholars for the GSBA Scholarship Fund's 30th year. Meet your scholars and hear their stories during the 2020 Scholars Dinner on Friday, May 15. If you are unaable to join us, please consider investing in our future leaders.

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