This article examines the gay French author Jean Genet’s 1970 tour of the United States with the Black Panther Party, using Genet’s unusual relationship with the Panthers as a lens for analyzing the possibilities and pitfalls of radical coalition politics in the long sixties. I rely on mainstream and alternative media coverage of the tour, articles by Black Panthers and gay liberationists, and Genet’s own writings and interviews to argue that Genet’s connection with the Panthers provided a queer bridge between the Black Power and gay liberation movements. Their story challenges the neglect of such coalitions by historians of the decade and illuminates some of the reasons the Panthers decided to support gay liberation. At the same time, Genet distanced himself from the gay liberation movement, and his unusual connection with the Panthers highlights some of the difficulties activists faced in building and sustaining such alliances on a broad scale.
Queer Connections: Jean Genet, the Black Panther Party, and Coalition Politics in the Long Sixties
Lindsay Zafir is a PhD candidate at Yale University, where she is completing a dissertation on the history of HIV/AIDS denialism and its relationship to international treatment activism. Her research focuses on the relationship between social movements, knowledge production, and expertise, with particular attention to the politics of race, gender, and sexuality. She is currently serving as the managing editor of The Forge: Organizing Strategy and Practice.
Lindsay Zafir; Queer Connections: Jean Genet, the Black Panther Party, and Coalition Politics in the Long Sixties. GLQ 1 April 2021; 27 (2): 253–279. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-8871691
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