Audre Lorde interview continues:
Beam: Let's talk about your work with Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.
Lorde: I'm very excited about Kitchen Table. I think it's an important manifestation of what has to happen. We need to build our own institutions. When we create out of our experiences, as feminists of color, women of color, we have to develop those structures that will present and circulate our culture. We have to be able to publish those things that would not be published otherwise, or be available to the different communities of women of color. It's a struggle but that's why we exist, so that another generation of Lesbians of color will not have to invent themselves, or their history, all over again.
Beam: The difference that I noticed between "Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology" and "This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color" was the material in "Home Girls" seemed so much more accessible while "This Bridge" felt very intellectual.
Lorde: That's interesting because I feel "This Bridge" has that quality of accessibility, also. Many grassroots organizations and people who have used it seem to feel that way too. I think they are very different books because they come out of very different visions. "Home Girls" was originally a third world women's issue of "Conditions" magazine. Therefore it had, from its inception, a different, much broader focus than "This Bridge," which was conceived as a collection of writing by radical women of color. So they served different kinds of functions.
Beam: In the past couple of years Lesbians of color have formed presses and are being published by some of the major presses...
Lorde: What Lesbians of color are being published by some of the major publishers?
Beam: Norton has published your work as well as the Crossing Press. Perhaps they're not huge presses like Harper and Row...
Lorde: Norton is, that's true but that's one! Look at how many Black Lesbian writers there are whose names are not known. Why isn't Gloria Hull a household name because of the research she's done on women of the Harlem Renaissance? What about Pat Parker? She's a really powerful poet. Norton is probably one of the finest poetry publishers in this country but I'm only one Black dyke and I'm greedy. I want more of us read and seen. Alice Walker is not a Lesbian. She has made very positive and sympathetic statements of "solidarity" with Lesbian sisters but she has made it perfectly clear that she is not a Lesbian and I think that's a real factor in her acceptability. (Read Alice Walker's response).
Beam: What words of inspiration, or advice, do you have for Gay men of color who have been silent? How do we begin to write about our experience?
Lorde: I'm not sure whether Black Gay men have been silent or whether they just don't have avenues for getting their work heard. That's one of the reasons why I'm really pleased to see the Blackheart Collective in New York and publications like Blacklight in Washington. These are important institutions that have to be developed as outlets of Black Gay writing. However, Gay men of color need workshops and discussion groups as well as magazines. Art does not exist in a vacuum. There is the necessity for Gay men of color to examine the truths within their experience which can be shared and, at the same time, develop a vision of some future which those truths can actively help shape because this is the function of any art, to make us more who we wish to be.