African American lesbian identity in performance
Tift, Kristyl Dawn
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The theatre can be a space of hope where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) artists rehearse and perform identity. While much of the LGBTQ and African Diaspora performance scholarship focuses on white lesbians, white gay men, and black and Latino gay men, black lesbians have not been studied as extensively. This dissertation is the first full-length study of the works of African American lesbian/queer-identified playwrights and performance artists—Sharon Bridgforth, Shirlene Holmes, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Staceyann Chin, and Lenelle Moïse. Each artist situates black lesbian experience at the center of their narrative in complex ways for specific ends—empowerment and survival. I rely on critical race theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s intersectionality, feminist theorist Chela Sandoval's differential consciousness and queer-of-color performance theorist José Esteban Muñoz's disidentification to ground my theory of the utopian mo(u)rning—a mode of performance employed by 20th and 21st century African American lesbian theatre artists, which combines performative acts of mourning and hope for homemaking purposes.