Rosamond S. King’s remarkable keynote speech at the 1st Annual Caribbean Women Writers Conference this Thursday at Medgar Evers College challenged the audience to end the silencing of Lesbian literary texts. Since the conference’s theme was “Transforming Silence: Memory, Remembrance and Resistance in the Narratives of Caribbean Women Writers,” it was more than appropriate to address the ‘loud’ absence of sufficient studies on Lesbian literature. As part of her address, Dr. King asked participants to address their own fears or feelings of uneasiness about teaching those texts and writing about them. Those of us who avoid those narratives are also reinforcing the same silencing that we should seek to address and eradicate.
Dr. King singled out Consuelo Martinez-Reyes as one of the sole conference presenter who addressed Lesbian literature. In fact, Consuelo delivered a fascinating analysis of Lourdes Casal’s poetry in the conference session we shared. I am looking forward to reading her work as soon as it is published. Dr. King also emphasized the fact that Lourdes Casal’s work has not been translated yet, further reinforcing that same silencing.
This address is both refreshing and urgent. I do take her words personal. As a professor, I do need to stop assuming that because I am not a lesbian, I cannot produce scholarship on those narratives (not that I do anyway). At the same time, I am glad that, upon my request, Audre Lorde is now included in the Howard University Freshman Composition textbook Revelations. In fact, by not acknowledging gay and lesbian literature in our classrooms, we are doing a disservice to our students.