Date of Award


Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Program

African and African American Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)




Historical examinations of queer people in American history have often overlooked and disregarded Black queer women. However, archival evidence gestures towards the existence of such women who led complex lives within a white supremacist heteronormative dominant society predicated on the Othering of Black queer bodies—rendering them abject. My research explores the contours of Black women’s queerness through a historical lens. I analyze primary source materials through an archival analysis surrounding the lives of Black queer women in the twentieth century United States, prior to the Stonewall riots. Heteronormative and connotatively “queer” spaces were often hostile towards Black queer women as they deemed Black queer women as not having space in society —resulting in what I call “uninhabitable space.” I examine the "uninhabitable" spaces they occupied, and this project will make space for the interiority of these Black queer women’s lives. Black women’s geographies illustrate how their queerness manifested spatiotemporally. Through this exploration, I have let the archives guide my research as I investigate how Black women’s queerness was perceived by a broader, heteronormative Black public sphere while, most importantly, investigating how Black women’s queerness contributes to a greater, more conceptual idea of Black Queer Space as liberatory and transgressive. I intend for this research to encourage an increase in the recovery of Black queer women’s stories from the past.


Rebecca Wanzo

Additional Advisors

Jonathan Fenderson, Andrea Friedman