Her words are her legacy. Black. Lesbian. Mother. Warrior. Poet. That’s how the legendary Audre Lorde would introduce herself. Audre Lorde’s impact on feminism, civil rights, and queerness is unfathomable. Even if you didn’t know it was her, you’ve read her work.
“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Your silence will not protect you. You do not have to be me in order for us to fight alongside each other. I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
Audre Lorde’s work focused on how she contained multitudes, on the idea of conflicting identities within one body. “I am defined as other in every group I’m part of. The outsider, both strength and weakness. Yet without community there is certainly no liberation, no future,” she wrote in The Cancer Journals. As queer people, we have to find our community, to know that we can lean on and learn from each other. Even now, scattered around the world and kept apart, we can find inspiration in Audre’s words to continue this vital work of uplifting and empowering our communities.
For me, Audre was the cornerstone of feminist studies. Her radical approach to all issues, her power in her identities, and her mastery over language have stayed with me far past my college years. I constantly find myself thinking about her ability to stand firmly in her truth, in her queerness, and make space for all of her intersecting identities. Her work brings joy because, for so many people, it is the first time they are understood in all of their multitudes. Her work and her existence highlighted the ways in which communities that were demanding equality and visibility (feminist, civil, and queer) had more to gain by understanding each other and working together than they could ever accomplish on their own.
She demanded to be known, and to be seen. We see you, Audre Lorde! And we thank you.