Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




College of Liberal Arts


Andrew Morris

Advisor Department


Advisor College

College of Liberal Arts


This thesis analyzes the origin and impact of Black homophobia found in activist spaces of mid- to late-twentieth-century American society. Black gay Americans were subjected to intersecting forms of systemic and cultural oppression that were exceedingly hard to escape due to both the homophobia in Black spaces and the racism in gay spaces. Black gay activists and artists thus had to create their own avenues of expression where they and others could fully embrace what it meant to be Black and gay. This work utilizes a Black feminist framework to explore the roots of Black homophobia and how this type of bigotry was able to so deeply infiltrate Black activist spaces like the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party. Black homophobia originated as a response to White supremacist domination of the Black body, and was able to spread through the community for generations through paths such as hypermasculinity, the Black church, and misogynoir. The experiences and voices of Black gay activists and artists are at the forefront of this work in an effort to shine a light on a group often overlooked by Black history and LGBTQ history alike. This thesis works to fill in one of the many gaps present in the historiography pertaining to Black gay life in America, though more contributions can and should be made in order to shift the field away from its historic focus on the White gay male. An investigation of Black gay exclusion from Black and gay activist spaces offers valuable insight into how Black gay activists and artists persevered and cultivated their own spheres of inclusion within a society that fundamentally opposed virtually every part of their identities.