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In this chapter, Jennifer DeVere Brody situates E. Patrick Johnson’s play Strange Fruit within a critical genealogy of black gay image-making. Brody asserts that Johnson’s artistic work, along with that of other black queer men, facilitated the emergence of black queer studies. Brody then analyzes selected scenes from Strange Fruit to argue that Johnson employs performance studies sensibilities to destabilize essentialist notions of black queer male identity.

In this chapter, Bernadette Marie Calafell interviews Strange Fruit creator E. Patrick Johnson. Johnson opens the interview by sharing that he wanted Strange Fruit to be an homage to the women in his family and black feminists, to whom he credits his own awakening about gender and sexuality. Calafell and Johnson then discuss some of Johnson’s selected intertextual references, the politics of ethnography, and the pedagogical function of Johnson’s work. Johnson culminates the interview by discussing the interanimation of queer theory and performance practice.

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