In Pleasure in the News: African American Readership and Sexuality in the Black Press (University of Illinois Press, 2020), Dr. Kim Gallon examines how Black newspaper editors and journalists created and fostered Black sexual publics during the 1920s and 1930s. She demonstrates that editors strategically elected to publish stories about marital scandals, divorces, homosexuality, and gender non-conformity, imagining that this coverage was a source of pleasure and debate for Black readers. Gallon argues that this editorial practice actually exposed class, gender, and sexuality divisions between different groups of African Americans. At the same time, this coverage revealed the tenuous position of lesbians, gay men, and female impersonators in a public sphere that sometimes silenced and marginalized their voices. Along with advancing racial solidarity, which Gallon takes as the Black presses’ starting point, the press revealed the diversity of Black people and created a discursive space in which sexual knowledge was produced, debated, and enjoyed.
To learn more about Professor Gallon’s digital scholarship and stay informed about how her work is meeting the demands of our moment, follow @BlackDigitalHum and @COVIDBlk on Twitter.
Amanda Joyce Hall is a Ph.D. Candidate in History and African American Studies at Yale University. She is writing an international history on the global movement against South African apartheid during the 1970s and 1980s. She tweets from @amandajoycehall.
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