Jafari S Allen

There's a Disco Ball Between Us: A Theory of Black Gay Life

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In There’s a Disco Ball Between Us, Jafari S. Allen offers a sweeping and lively ethnographic and intellectual history of what he calls “Black gay habits of mind.” In conversational and lyrical language, Allen locates this sensibility as it emerged from radical Black lesbian activism and writing during the long 1980s. He traverses multiple temporalities and locations, drawing on research and fieldwork conducted across the globe, from Nairobi, London, and Paris to Toronto, Miami, and Trinidad and Tobago.

In these locations and archives, Allen traces the genealogies of Black gay politics and cultures in the visual art, poetry, film, Black feminist theory, historiography, and activism of thinkers and artists such as Audre Lorde, Marsha P. Johnson, Essex Hemphill, Colin Robinson, Marlon Riggs, Pat Parker, and Joseph Beam. Throughout, Allen renarrates Black queer history while cultivating a Black gay method of thinking and writing. In so doing, he speaks to the urgent contemporary struggles for social justice while calling on Black studies to pursue scholarship, art, and policy derived from the lived experience and fantasies of Black people throughout the world.

Author: Jafari S. Allen

Paperback  Published 28 February 2022  440 pages

“A genre-transcending meditation on one of the most undertheorized periods in Black queer history, There’s a Disco Ball Between Us is a timely and necessary account of what the period leading up to, during, and after the long shadow of the 1980s means for the current moment in Black queer world-making. At once poetic and playful, it pushes the boundaries of traditional scholarship, providing a methodology for analyzing Black queer culture. To use the vernacular of the ballroom children, folks are going to gag at its deft reads, melodic writing, and creative rendering of Black queer history.”E. Patrick Johnson, author ofHoneypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women

“In this innovative and generously envisioned book, Jafari S. Allen presents an unprecedented consideration of Black queerness as he weaves together a loving tapestry of Black feminist and Black queer theorists that spans half a century of critical work. Suffused with the ‘Blackfullness’ of queer love, loss, and world-making, There’s a Disco Ball Between Us is a lyrical, incisive, history-making, and paradigm-shifting work.”Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, author ofEzili’s Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders

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