Audre Lorde: “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”

5 mins read
Credit: Musee Magazine

In the essence of LGBT History Month, we should reflect on some trailblazing figures. The civil rights movement, after all, is timeless.

This is especially the case in an age where injustices are still being fought against. Audre Lorde was fluent in poetry (her first language) and a fighter against injustices.

Self-described as being “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”, her impact on feminist writings, the fight against racism and lesbian culture is ground-breaking to this day.

Reflecting on such transformative figures in history is important. The LGBTQ Civil Rights movement was a battle to simply live in a time when discrimination was twice as brutal as what the LGBTQ+ community face now.

“I literally communicated through poetry. And when I couldn’t find the poems to express the things I was feeling, that’s what started me writing poetry, and that was when I was twelve or thirteen.”

Audre Lorde

Being a wordsmith was how she changed the world. Her literature challenged society, and her opinions challenged the intersectionality between sexual orientation, gender identity, and race.

Lorde was married to Edwin Rollins, a gay white man, and together they had two children. They divorced in 1970, two years later, and Lorde met her long-term partner, Frances Clayton. They went on to live together for twenty-one-years.

However, it is rumoured that Lorde came out as a lesbian in her college years – something that can be very relatable for today’s youths. She was unafraid of who she was and what she stood for. It cannot be said that Audre Lorde was a quiet woman, but instead a fierce warrior for civil rights.

She was only in high school when she published her first poem in Seventeen Magazine. Much of her work was central to liberation movements, her life a series of fights for justice. She was a powerful advocate for civil rights and LGBTQ equality.

“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

It was in 1976 when Audre Lorde was first trusted by a publisher, with one of her most recognised pieces of work; The Black Unicorn (1978), which critics consider to be her finest publication. Only a year later, she famously marched in Washington.

Lorde famously delivered a speech at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, liberating her followers and fellow LGBTQ members to stand up for their right to live. She celebrated the achievements of their community and demonstrated their power on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

“The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.”

Audre Lorde

In her time, Lorde achieved many things. They all speak true to the sheer greatness of her character without needing to be explained. In 1987, Audre Lorde received the Borough of Manhattan President’s Award for Literary Excellence.

On top of that, she was also a cancer survivor. Not that her illness stopped her from fighting for change, though, because she didn’t fear anything – except maybe labels.

Lorde’s inspirations went against the societal need to categorise; she refused to condemn herself to either being a lesbian or a black woman because she wouldn’t prioritise one aspect of her identity over another.

This is something that still fiercely stands in this modern age. A famous quote of Audre Lorde that still rings true is: “revolution is not a one-time event” and the meaning behind those words still hold relevance in trying times such as these.

Featured image credit: NBC News

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Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

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