Melvin Dixon’s essay “I’ll Be Somewhere Listening for My Name” ranks in the top three personal-intellectual works that has shaped my life. Delivered at the 1992 Out/Write conference, shortly before his death, the essay muses on the fragility of black gay life in the era of AIDS and the need for critical-community memory. Dixon insists that we must preserve a legacy of ourselves for ourselves. History, he reminds us, has a nasty habit of erasing those it does not like, those whose contributions it ingests and incorporates.

It is, for this reason, that I have been so excited by bloggers such as Frank, who richly documents the ball scene, as spectacle, community, and intellectual enterprise. I am thrilled by Bernie’s recent series of transcribed interviews by mature gay men. I relish the exchanges on Larry’s site that demonstrate the critical and creative ways young black gay men, fine examples of what Gramsci might have termed organic intellectuals, wrestle to address the interpenetration of social, political, and intellectual commitments.

Sokari, whose energy exhausts me, has been vital in fostering cross-continental dialogues and highlighting the international stakes of queer politics. Perhaps more than anyone else, she teaches me the relative poverty of intellectual debates on global queer politics by foregrounding the vibrant texture of social activism. She is, of course, much too smart to allow this binary distinction between intellectual and social work; and her blog continues to teach me what it might mean to live as a queer intellectual activist with a profound commitment to social justice.

While she is no longer blogging, Kortney created a wonderful site of exchange that continually demonstrated the inextricability of race, sexuality, and gender. Even when discussions became acrimonious, her blog remained a place of exciting intellectual and social work. On a more institutional level, I am thrilled at the prospect of, one day, going to see and use The Black Gay and Lesbian Archive, Stephen Fullwood’s wonderful project.

John Keene continues to teach me what it means to have a rich life that blends art and politics, intellect with profound compassion, a generous aesthetic sense with a love for sports (the sports I don’t get, but I look at the pretty pictures of men).

This is not a simple recounting of the blogs I read, nor a shout-out in any simple way. In some ways it is, of course, a kind of appreciation. Even when I do not comment, I read and learn and think and, I hope, grow.

Each of these blogs, in the writing and in the discussions that such writing enables, creates a vibrant and special archive of what it means to be black and gay or lesbian or queer at this particular point in history. I cannot overstate the importance of such archives. More than simply repositories for documents or evidence that academics and historians will use, such archives might be considered, and here I steal from Houston Baker, spiritual repositories that feed and nurture and hope and anticipate.

3 thoughts on “Archives

  1. Hi Acolyte,

    Thanks for the welcome.

    I confess to the diasporan–or been-to’s–laziness. In part, I’ve been away from Kenya for 11 years. I have very little sense of what the social world might be. While I am in touch with some gay people, I must admit I have no clue how I might fit in with any articulated politics.

    In terms of a forum, seems to have provided a home of some kind. I would have to spend more time online to discover what else might exist. Plus, as you know, I’m less interested in staking out a position as “the gay Kenyan” than I am in finding various creative and critical ways to understand the worlds I inhabit and, in some small way, help to shape.

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