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LGBT People of History 93 - Audre Lorde

Updated on April 24, 2012
Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde | Source
Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde | Source

Audre Lorde


Audrey Geraldine Lorde (1934 – 1992) was a famous Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist.

She was born in New York City to Frederick Byron Lorde and Linda Gertrude Belmar Lorde and they lived in Harlem. She was very short sighted and learned to read, write and talk at the age of four. Her first poem was written at around the age of 12. She removed the ‘y’ from her first name as a child as she liked the symmetry of the ‘e’ endings in both of her names.

Her best friend, Genevieve Thompson, died at the same time as she graduated from college and she left home and moved to Stamford, Connecticut where she started to become more aware of her lesbian sexuality.

In 1954, she spent a year in Mexico where she renewed herself and spent a period of self-acceptance as a poet and a lesbian. Returning to New York City she pursued a career in librarianship and became head librarian at Town School Library in New York. She was also involved in the Greenwich Village gay scene. She continued writing and got married and divorced after having had two children.

In 1968 she met Frances Clayton, a white psychology professor, in Mississippi. They would remain together until 1989. Audre had a brief affair with Mildred Thompson in 1977-8.

Her work consisted of writing poetry, fighting for civil and gay rights and involvement in feminist movements. Her early poetic publications were ‘The First Cities’ and ‘Cables to Rage’. These dealt with being black and love, children and betrayal and lesbianism. She was an advocate of rights on many levels (such as class, race, age, gender and even health as well as sexuality) and was constantly at odds with the white feminists of the time. Her overarching concerns were for the rights of black and gay people. She also argued that there was a lot of racism in contemporary feminist thought.

In 1978, Audre was diagnosed with breast cancer and she gallantly fought this disease for 14 years. Years later she was diagnosed with liver cancer and because of this focussed on her life and writings publishing the acclaimed ‘The Cancer Journals’ in 1981. She described herself as a ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’.

The liver cancer finally killed her in 1992. She was 58.

A sad loss to the cause.


Ian and Callum.

With thanks to Wikipedia.


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    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      A fantastic hub Ian

      Audre was a brilliant and remarkable woman x

      Callum x

    • alian346 profile image
      Author

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Very remarkable considering she had to contend with horrible diseases in later life - a true inspiration to us all, Callum.

      Talking of inspiration - thank you too!!

      Ian.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Your very welcome Ian x

      Callum x

    • handyhowto profile image

      handyhowto 5 years ago from California

      I loved reading about the Harlem Renaissance, so I'm glad to learn about Audre. Although she might have been a little too old for that milieu, NYC was a fertile ground for artists in the early 20th century.

    • alian346 profile image
      Author

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Thanks for stopping by, handyhowto.

      Audre was too young to be involved in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s, but I'm sure it exerted an influence on her.

      Ian.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      another great hub. I am getting depressed at all this pain and sorrow so will continue to read more later.

    • alian346 profile image
      Author

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I think you just happened to read a number of our WW2 Hubs which are not easy subject matter, Dave. Read 'Gad Beck' (#31) when you have time - very inspiring.

      Audre was a strong character and did much for the cause.

      Ian.

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