Audre Lorde was born in New York in 1934 to Caribbean immigrant parents. She learned to read and write at the age of four and wrote her first poem in the eighth grade, and at fifteen her first poem was published in Seventeen magazine. She graduated from Hunter College in 1959 and completed her Master’s degree from Columbia University two years later. Following this, she moved from Harlem to Connecticut and started to explore her sexuality.
In 1954, Audre spent a year as a student at the National University of Mexico – a period of time she described as affirming her identity as a lesbian. Upon her return to New York she continued writing, highlighting themes of racial and social injustices, gender inequalities and black female identity. She also became an active participant in the gay culture of Greenwich village alongside feminist movements. She dedicated her life to advocating for civil rights and LGBTQ+ equality.
Although there are some clear differences between myself and Audre – ethnicity being the main one – I can strongly relate to the feeling of being an outsider. As a lesbian woman, often I find getting my voice heard challenging when surrounded by the influences of the patriarchy and heteronormativity. Some of my work at Birmingham LGBT also involves LGBTQ+ equality, and although the access to opportunity we have has massively increased since Audre began her fight in this area, we still have a lot of work to do.
I am defined as other in every group I’m part of. The outsider, both strength and weakness. Yet without community there is certainly no liberation, no future, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between me and my oppression. – Audre Lorde
— Georgia Hinton, Sexual Health Promotion Worker (Lesbian & Bisexual Women)
This blog is part of a series for LGBT History Month 2022, where members of the Birmingham LGBT Team write about the LGBT people whose lives have influenced and inspired them.