Recalling Black Lesbian Futures

I had the honor of co-hosting an event this past week on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 with Briona Simone Jones to help bring to the community her new anthology, Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought (The New Press, 2021). The event, titled Black Lesbian Futures featured Cheryl Clarke, Briona Simone Jones, Jewelle Gomez, Susana Morris, Sharon Bridgforth, Lisa C. Moore, Cassandra Grant, and me, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz. We had over 650 RSVPs and over 350 community members on the zoom session. It was an amazing event where we were gracious to receive co-sponsorship from CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies, Lesbian Herstory Archives, NYU Libraries, Sinister Wisdom, New Press, and Black Women Radicals.

When Julie Enszer emailed me about all of the feedback she received, asking me, “how was it?” I said, well:

Julie: It was absolutely delicious. Cheryl is on fire. Jewelle is so graceful. Sharon and Lisa were so smooth. Cassandra was inspiring. Briona is so smart! And I made sure to ask people to flirt. There was one moment of zoom bombing. But other than that, it was perfect. We didn’t record it. So it will just be in our hearts. 

Though we didn’t record the day, below is a paste from a redacted googledoc of our robust chat, complete with links and words of affirmation.

For those of us who were there, and want more, next Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 at 7pm will an event co-sponsored with Bard College and NYU Libraries as a part of their Black Love/ Black Visions/ Black Revolution series Molehills of Memory: Mapping the Legacy of Black Queer Memory and Archives, From Audre to Zora.

Thanks to all for your continued commitment to community.


Links at Comments at the Intro:

17:59:29 Congratulations!

18:05:40 LO O O VE the song, even if the memories are of a girl who longed but could not fullfil….sigh

18:05:45 What is the name of this song?

18:05:51 💓

18:05:53 Great song!

18:05:54 When was that first girl dance?


18:06:04 My Precious Love

18:06:35 Hi, Jewelle & Cheryl! From Nancy & Elisabeth

18:07:00 Alafia to all

18:07:24 Hi Jewelle! here from SF

18:07:55 Go Shawnta!

18:07:58 Hello to everyone!  So happy to be here!

18:08:23 Lol @ flirt

18:08:44 Hi from Belize.

18:08:50 Hello to everybody from Berlin night

18:08:55 Calling in from CT. Super excited for this convo!

18:08:58 Hey y’all!! Much love from Georgia!!

18:09:07 Good evening from Philly!

18:09:11 We can flirt? I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore.

18:09:14 Hello from Miami!

18:09:25 Hey Jewelle & Cheryl from in NY❣️

18:09:26 Here from Oakland Ca

18:09:27 Excited to be here! From Monroe, LA but Austin, TX based these days!

18:09:27 It is so good to be able to be here with you all,

18:09:34 Sending love from Detroit ✨

18:09:36 Hi from durham North Carolina!! ❤

18:09:39 Hello and good evening to all from State College, Pennsylvania!

18:09:49 🔥🔥🔥

18:09:53 It is so good to be here with all of you,

18:09:55 Hello from Charlotte NC

18:10:00 Sending love from New york!

18:10:03 Hello from Brooklyn!!

18:10:08 Hello from Maryland, from Astraea days in New York.

18:10:14 Go CUNY

18:10:15 Grateful for this event — thanks to all for participating and for giving your time and wisdom

18:10:16 Hi everyone! So excited to be here and be inspired for my writing! Any filmmakers in the chat? Let’s connect on Twitter 

18:10:23 Hello Cheryl & Jewelle, remembering, “Conditions”

18:10:27 Greetings from VA!! So happy to be here

18:10:30 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : Hello from Kizh Land…Los Angeles

18:10:30 Teddy and I are so glad we are here with you all

18:10:52 Hey from Chicago!

18:10:58 I am on Chechenyo Ohlone land/Oakland Ca

18:11:03 hi from nigeria

18:11:05 Hi from NYC-so excited about this.  Love the book.

18:11:23 Klatsop, Grande Ronde lands around Portland, OR

18:11:24 Hi from Baltimore

18:11:24 So much love to our lesbian elders who paved the way

18:11:27 hello from kumeyaay territory, San Diego CA

18:11:38 Audre Lorde is with us

18:11:43 Greetings Dvora..Lili Micaela, Morgan

18:11:45 Hi Everyone, From Baltimore City

18:11:45 om shanti

18:11:46 Greetings everyone, checking in from DC. So happy to be here!

18:11:54 Hi from London, uk!

18:12:02 Hi from London too!

18:12:03 Beaming with gratitude for this event from Chicago!

18:12:07 Happy to be here

18:12:10 Hello from occupied Hawaii

18:12:17 and PAT PARKER!!!!!

18:12:24 Hi all, Watching from the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial.  ( Ottawa, Ontario, Canada )

18:12:24 Hey everyone, From Detroit, Michigan

18:12:39 Greetings to everyone from Treaty 7 territory in southwestern Alberta, Canada, Turtle Island. So grateful that this event is happening and that we can all be here together.

18:12:52 Greetings from Jamaica ❤

18:13:08 Congrats, Briona!

18:13:16 Nice!! Excited to have you in CT!

18:13:20 Go Briona!!!


18:13:45 Uconn WGGS alumn here! Congrats!

18:13:56 From Briona Simone Jones to Everyone :

18:14:03 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : Congrats, Briona!

18:14:13 Good evening All from Brooklyn NY.  Thank to Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz for bringing this to us.

18:14:14 Congratulations on MOUTHS OF RAIN, Briona!




Coming together   
it is easier to work   
after our bodies   
paper and pen
neither care nor profit
whether we write or not
but as your body moves
under my hands   
charged and waiting   
we cut the leash
you create me against your thighs   
hilly with images
moving through our word countries   
my body
writes into your flesh
the poem
you make of me.
Touching you I catch midnight   
as moon fires set in my throat   
I love you flesh into blossom   
I made you
and take you made
into me.


18:15:07 Good evening from London, England

18:15:51 I really wish we could get a list of all the books she just listed.

18:16:00 ^^^

18:16:03 Me too

18:16:24 My most fulfilling course work was with soon to be Dr. Jones.. so surreal

18:16:27 From Shawn to Everyone : All of the authors are in the Mouths of Rain anthology

18:16:29 From Shawn to Everyone : 

18:19:49 From Shawn to Everyone : 

18:22:02 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Here is the run-down of speakers:

Cheryl Clarke 

with Briona Simone Jones

Sharon Bridgforth 

with Lisa C. Moore 

Jewelle Gomez 

with Susana Morris 

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz 

with Cassandra Grant

18:25:03 💯

18:25:11 💗

18:25:26 🔥🔥

18:25:39 ❤

18:25:46 💜

18:26:02 So excited to be here!!!! 🖤

18:26:23 ^^

18:26:26 ^^

Chat from Conversation with Cheryl and Briona:

18:26:44 ☀️fabulous, Cheryl 💜

18:26:56 that was a beautiful introduction. I can’t wait to read about all of these wonderful lesbians

18:27:20 Applause Cheryl.

18:27:23 Voice and words ._. ❤

18:27:42 How wonderful to see that the community is thriving

18:27:50 It is especially touching, inspiring, and refreshing to hear Cheryl sharing her wisdom. Many thanks!

18:28:41 Thank you to all the others who sent such supportive chats. Appreciate you all!!

18:28:44 women loving women will save the world.

18:28:46 Long live Longevity!

18:28:57 ✊🏿

18:29:01 LONGEVITY!

18:29:22 I’m a radio producer at KPFA in Berkeley, and for International Women’s Day, we just rebroadcast readings from This Bridge Called My Back from 40 years ago. If you would like to hear that hour, this is the link: 

18:29:41 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Thanks for sharing Chana!

18:29:49 ty Chana, that looks great

18:29:50 Thanks for sharing Chana. Bridge is my favorite book

18:29:57 DYMK 💛💙💜

Chat from Conversation with Lisa C. Moore and Sharon Bridgeforth:

18:30:03 Omg this is so beautiful, im reading Does Your Mama Know rn!!!

18:30:13 From Shawn to Everyone : Does Your Mama Know

18:30:30 From Shawn to Everyone : It is back in stock!!!

18:31:08 From Shawn to Everyone : Summer reading!!

18:31:16 From cheryl clarke to Everyone : Lisa: yes, your work has been miraculous. Thank you.

18:31:17 100%

18:31:18 ase

18:31:33 YES! No one has the right to deny your access to the Divine!

18:31:40 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : You’re very welcome. 🙂


18:34:16 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : YEEESSSS!!!!

18:34:26 living for this

18:34:31 No shame needed!

18:34:32 From Ángel to Everyone : puuurrrrrddd

18:34:39 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : snaps*

18:35:19 The world needs this work.

18:35:27 yes

18:35:29 Yes! ^^

18:36:05 Lisa C. Moore at 

18:36:39 Lisa, wow! Thanks so much for all.

18:36:41 Glorious indeed!!

18:36:53 I legit just ran online to purchase does your mama know. so excited to absorb all of these amazing works

18:36:58 Ashé

18:37:02 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : This moment is a black lesbian publishing utopia for me.

18:37:03 same!

18:37:44 I love the term “bull dagger”. Do the young folks still use it anymore?

18:37:53 Redbone Press is a treasure as is Lisa Moore

18:38:05 For sure

18:39:09 Yes, Cinnamon…I use “bull dagger” and dyke. Love how they feel to me.

18:39:24 yes, need to cry . ..

18:39:59 I love the energy between these two souls, just pure joy

18:40:25 I agree

18:40:25 From Jewelle Gomez to Everyone : “what had happened was…”  I want to write a story that starts w/that phrase!

18:40:27 +1 

18:40:35 Where is the snapping emoji reaction zoom?!

18:40:38 LOL!

18:40:46 I am the conjure come back to love…

18:40:50 beautiful!

18:40:51 I had the same question…wow.

18:41:02 Thank you Sharon – so so so good

18:41:06 What does it mean? I am the conjure, come back to me, what does that mean?

18:41:07 wow YES

18:41:24 Yes! The Gaytekeepers!!!

18:41:31 this is beautiful

18:41:51 This is absolutely amazing.

18:42:01 YES, that part Yeva  “I am the conjure come back to love…”

18:42:29 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Yay Fire & Ink!

18:42:30 ❤️😊 

18:43:24 From Shawn to Everyone : Article I wrote once on Fire & Ink available at the CLAGS repository: 

18:43:37 that was my library too in high school!

18:43:47 HU

18:43:54 Please explain, I am the conjure, come back to me, are you calling someone to return from the dead? I’m lost.

18:44:11 From Shawn to Everyone : we’ll add your questions to the list and bring it to the end!

18:45:10 I am a straight white male attending events hosted by different identity groups as part of my college education (for an intercultural communication course). It is great to see everybody and really interesting to hear these perspectives. Love to all!

18:45:27 and we’re content to witness ❤

18:45:30 And thank you for putting this event on

Chat from Conversation with Jewelle Gomez and Susana Morris

18:46:13 💘😍Jewelle Gomez

18:46:34 My bookclub just finished reading ‘The Gilda Stories’ — so amazing

18:46:41 I’m so happy to be learning about each of these wonderful people

18:46:56 ^

18:47:54 Jewelle Gomez!!!❤️❤️❤️

18:48:29 NYC wants you back!

18:48:56 From Shawn to Everyone : 

18:49:23 From Shawn to Everyone : Gilda Stories direct link: 

18:49:50 Jamaica! Yes!

18:49:55 From Shawn to Everyone : Close Kin and Distant Relatives:

18:50:35 From Shawn to Everyone : Crunk Feminist Collective:

18:50:35 Go Susana!

18:51:44 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : You look so cool Jewelle.

18:51:49 You always look COOL AF, JG

18:52:01 Cool Jewelle

18:52:06 Jewelle! ❤️❤️❤️

18:52:10 What’s the name of the archives that Lisa mentioned that are the library of congress?

18:52:22 so excited!

18:52:59 more books to add to my library! overwhelmed and delighted all at once!

18:53:04 The Gilda Stories is in development as a TV series. Can we ask Jewell about that if we get time?

18:53:09 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone: The Fire & Ink records are at D.C. Public Library’s Special Collections in Washington, DC.

18:54:23 Lisa: Thank you sooo much <3333

18:56:23 Beautiful passage

18:56:42 I hope it’s a book someday soon!!!

18:56:49 that was beautiful jewelle

18:56:56 Wow

18:57:01 Brilliant, Jewelle…yes yes yes, do it!

18:57:05 Let’s pay attention to these amazing speakers!

18:57:19 Sequel????

18:57:31 Do tell!!!!

18:57:50 A sequel will be right on time, Jewelle.

18:58:01 A language of possibility is so right.

18:58:08 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : Very much so, in this Afrofuturistic moment.

18:58:42 Isn’t the Gilda Stories been produce by Cheryl Dunne?

18:58:54 Yes!

19:00:07 The Black Interior by Elizabeth Alexander

19:01:22 💗

19:01:49 Thanks for the link

19:02:21 Susana, you speak for so many of us…thank you!

19:02:27 From Shawn to Everyone : All, we end at 7:30, so we will have time for Q&A!

19:02:38 So very well said, Susanna.

19:03:09 Thank you.❤️

19:03:18 100%

19:03:20 Love you Twin!

19:03:36 This is a wonderful program!!!!!

19:03:36 💯

19:03:46 Yes!

19:04:22 thank you Shawnta for moderating this event 💜

19:04:40 Absolutely amazing event!

19:04:41 all these links are great thank you

19:05:20 such joy to watch this ❤

19:05:23 thank you both so much love!

19:05:49 From Black Women Radicals to Everyone : LOL! Ms. Cheryl!

19:06:01 Thank you dear dear Nancy Bereano for helping me bring Cheryl Clarke and Pat Parker to Cal State LA and the Lesbian Writers Series in Los Angeles on March 30, 31 1989. Bless you and wonderful Elizabeth. March 31, 1989 was Pat Parker’s last public reading – she passed the following June.

19:06:24 Cheryl be precious! ❤

Chat from Conversation with Cassandra Grant and Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz

19:06:29 Hello Cassandra…always good to see and hear what you have to say.

19:06:48 ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

19:07:04 From Black Women Radicals to Everyone : Shawn, you’re the best! ❤

19:07:19 All love to Salsa Soul Sistahs from ULOAH and BLU!

19:08:46 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : I remember meeting Maua Flowers when I first came out. I went to NYC in the mid-‘80s and went to a couple of Salsa Soul meetings while I was in town for a summer. She introduced me to Indian food and pushed me to march in the gay pride parade that summer. I’ll always remember her!

19:08:55 I’m a golden girl, what the hell does this stand for: <3?

19:09:04 ^ it means heart

19:09:13 ❤️

19:09:15 Maua Flowers, presents!

19:09:18 Lol @ golden girl

19:09:21 Really?

19:09:36 Yup!

19:09:36 cool beans/provocative

19:09:39 Hate this aging process.

19:09:49 You’re just getting finer with time!

19:10:01 Yeah right.

19:10:08 Hahaha

19:10:43 Yes Cassandra!!!

19:10:50 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : An archivist’s dream!


19:11:34 From Jewelle Gomez to Everyone : Cheryl Dunye optioned The Gilda Stories for a TV  mini series!  She’s been busy doing other TV like episodes of  Lovecraft Country!  But GILDA is  on the horizon!

19:11:35 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : I treasure the inter-generational Love here

19:11:35 @Lisa C. Moore  💯

19:11:55 @sharon: same!

19:11:55 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : Hey!

19:11:57 Great news re Gilda Stories!

19:11:58 From Susana Morris to Everyone : JEWELLE! Whaaatt? I can’t wait to watch!!!!

19:12:03 Have to respect our elders @ Sharon

19:12:05 Lol

19:12:08 Those pooches are EVERYTHING!!!


19:12:29 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : YASSSS PUPPIES

19:12:32 From Jewelle Gomez to Everyone : Yay Salsa Soul!!!  I went to MichFest on a Salsa Soul bus!!!

19:12:38 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : Ooooh. TV mini series. I will watch. Hard!

19:12:45 Salsa Soul Sisters Third World Wimmin Inc

19:12:55 We need a tv series of that bus trip…

19:13:32 From Jewelle Gomez to Everyone : And I went with a thermos of vodka martinis to share after our tents were put up!

19:13:44 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : SO GRATEFUL TO ALLLL WHO HAVE/AND ARE DOING THAT WORK!


19:13:56 Jewelle you are a baddie

19:14:00 Live saving work

19:14:05 Of course you did!!!!!

19:14:08 I’ll take S. Pellegrino.

19:14:09 MY SOUL IS OVERJOYED !!! Loving every piece of this program!!!

19:14:38 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Ache!

19:14:45 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : WOW

19:14:46 Say that!

19:14:48 yes!!!

19:14:52 💚

19:14:56 I wanna get in on that Salsa meeting, how?

19:14:58 ❤

19:15:10 In the presence of royalty, yes!

19:15:12 PERIOD 🔥

19:15:19 ❤

19:15:20 I love all of this

19:15:22 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : LOVVVVE

19:15:27 Indeed, it IS like a Salsa meeting

19:15:31 ❤

19:15:32 wonderful

19:15:44 This is a truly remarkable, fantastic gathering. 💜

19:15:53 AMAZING

19:16:00 y’all fill my soul

19:16:14 ✨ to Everyone : 🥺

19:16:20 From Jewelle Gomez to Everyone : ZOOM! This is Afro Futurism right here!

19:16:28 Mine too aly!

19:16:35 @ Jewelle yes!

19:16:36 More about Salsa Soul Sisters 

19:16:37 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Let’s change the time from 1976 to 1974 —> you heard it here first.

19:16:39 Thank you<3

19:16:48 From Susana Morris to Everyone : you’re right, jewelle!

19:16:50 🙌🏽

19:16:58 🔥🔥🔥

19:17:01 SAY It SIS JEWELLE💗

19:17:10 ^^^

19:17:14 Thank you all for your voices and this space. This has been a beautiful experience.

19:17:22 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : I feel SO energized/Inspired/Lifted!! THANK YOU

19:17:38 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Here is the link to the poster that Cassandra has behind her: 

19:17:40 ^

19:18:05 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Full list for that exhibition:

19:18:18 The talk of ANCESTORS is thrilling and spiritually satisfying. I believe they are pleased. Thank you. Sage burns. SmOKE.  rises. ASHE

19:18:19 Talk about it!!

19:19:06 yesyesyes

19:19:22 This is everything.

19:19:45 Lol @ were people naked

19:20:17 Preach!

19:20:21 Briona, please know that just as you feel gratitude to those whose written words helped you survive, the work you’re doing is lifting up and saving others.

19:20:37 ^^^

19:20:46 So grateful for this space. I needed this today. These spaces are still very needed, that sense of belonging is still something some of us don’t have and having consistent communal spaces of reflection, care, and accountability.

19:21:07 YES 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

19:21:08 And we thank y’all for it!!!

19:21:09 Absolutely! ^^^

19:21:22 From Sharon Bridgforth to Everyone : YASSSSS

19:21:23 Anni C sez Salsa Soul will live 4ever!

19:21:26 Edwina!!!

19:21:29 From Jewelle Gomez to Everyone : I’m grateful to have lived long enuf to hear the past and the future in this same ‘room!’

19:21:30 Yes, thank you

19:21:34 Love Edwina Tyler!!!! Women drummers are the best!

19:21:43 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : Remembering Rivers of Honey…

19:21:45 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : I remember Edwina Tyler! Yaaas!

19:21:52 this is beautiful, I am so grateful to the generations before me

19:21:53 got goosebumps. this is awesome

19:21:58 Asé @Jewelle – we need these intergenerational opportunities

19:22:05 That is so true!

19:22:07 Yes Latishia!!!!

19:22:09 My heart ❤

19:22:17 This is still going on. Even in 2021

19:22:24 ^^^

19:22:32 whew…..yes.

19:22:34 From Lisa C. Moore  to Everyone : And that is why this work is necessary.

19:22:36 I came out in 1975

19:23:30 that sounds like a necessary place.

19:23:45 I absolutely agree. I am one of those woman. We must continue to have these conversations so people can see that it is okay to be who we are.

19:24:00 Cassandra, thank you! That was amazing.

19:24:04 My tears are already here !

19:24:07 From Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz to Everyone : 

19:24:20 Thank you so much for this space.

19:24:26 We NEED that kind of space now in 2021!!!!

19:24:29 ‘m so moved. Thank you for this!

19:24:29 Thank you Shawn(ta)!

19:24:29 Where did Salsa Soul meetings take place?

19:24:43 Cutie!!!!!

19:24:53 her sweet face ❤

19:24:54 Hello little one.

19:24:59 so sweet omg

19:25:02 This is a link to half-hour audio story called Sistah Boom: Forty Years in the Streets about the dyke samba marching band from SF that marches at Dyke Marches and other street protests:

19:25:05 Ayeeeee 😂😍


19:25:14 tell her she’s perfect and everyone loves her

Chat from Q&A

19:25:17 From Shawn to Everyone : Question for Sharon: What does it mean? I am the conjure, come back to me, what does that mean?

Question for Jewelle:

The Gilda Stories is in development as a TV series. Can we ask Jewell about that if we get time?

19:25:23 This is absolutely incredible, i am loving all of this! my heart is so full, thank you all so much.

19:25:24 Where did Salsa Soul meetings take place?

19:25:32 Such a sweet kiddo

19:25:42 From Shawn to Everyone : Where did Salsa Soul meetings take place?

19:27:26 Catalin, that’s a beautiful kitty.

19:27:27 and she directs Queen Sugar!

19:27:30 Cheryl is amazing! She’ll do a fab job

19:27:39 Hi Sharon Bridgforth!

19:27:44 Yes claws!

19:27:45 More about Cheryl Dunye 

19:29:16 Hi all, a link to Cheryl Dunye’s early works: 

19:29:26 This space is so necessary!

19:29:29 ^^^

19:29:44 I’m dreaming of salsa soul

19:29:49 Just watched them last weekend and fell in love 

19:30:26 From Shawn to Everyone : If you want to save the chat. You can. Click the three dots in your chat box to have all of your links!

19:30:27 Thank you all for these readings and lessons

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