Have you ever wondered what unseen photos, untold stories, and unfinished works surviving partners of famous people are left with?
Dr. Gloria I. Joseph has a treasure trove of memories of the renowned Audre Lorde, her late partner. Joseph’s long-awaited new book, The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde, gives us a rare glimpse of Lorde, as told by people who knew Lorde or whose work was greatly impacted by her.
Who was Audre Lorde?
While I gasp at having to pen such a query, I realize there’s a generation who are the beneficiaries of Lorde’s prodigious body of work and social activism but don’t have a clue who she was.
If she were among us today, this “poet, warrior, feminist, mother, pioneer, lover, survivor” would be 80 years old. She was born Feb. 18, 1934, in Harlem to Caribbean immigrant parents.
I met Lorde in my early 20s after returning home from Wellesley College looking for an LBTQ support group. I was taken to African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change (AALUSC), the first organization for out LBTQ sisters in New York City. Back in the day AALUSC was known as Salsa Soul Sisters, and Lorde facilitated workshops aimed at helping us love ourselves regardless of rejection by family and church.
But Lorde’s indefatigable spirit fought on many fronts — and exclusion by white feminists was just one of the battles.
The second-wave feminist movement was intentionally an exclusive women’s country club. Betty Friedan‘s upper-crust, “pumps and pearls”-wearing white women were the audience, and poor white women and women of color — straight or gay — had neither voice nor visibility.