After I typed ‘African American lesbian breastfeeding’ into a google search, I was disappointed but unfortunately not really surprised, by the results of what wasn’t there. I guess I was just a tad more hopeful about what I would find this time around than on previous searches — that returned pages of links to pornographic websites with descriptions of who is going to do what to who and how. I was thinking that maybe I’d be able to read something about a Black lesbian woman and her thoughts on breastfeeding — maybe a story about her life and what she has experienced with these identities and this important topic — triumphs or even complications — anything.
I had known for some time that the unique experiences of breastfeeding among Black and African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered folks in this realm seems to be non-existent. Or, it’s not that they are non-existent, however, they just continue to be overlooked and hidden among the great majority of advocacy and discourse — with the overwhelming amount, if not nearly all representation pinned-up against a heterosexual and cisgendered backdrop.
The image above of lesbian activist Staceyann Chin (who I understand is of Jamaican and Chinese heritage), was on page three of my search. It came before one other link to a novel about a Black woman living in a heteronormative society — which was a couple pages later — but not before a young, white woman’s mockery in a post titled ‘LOOK! It’s a Black Lesbian Breastfeeding!’ but laughed it off since it wasn’t real, and was only a way for her to try and, as she put it ‘get some attention ha ha..’ Of course the bulk of what followed was hypersexuality, though there were a few articles on queer identity as a component of a person’s profile in the medical industry, for example. Still, there was nothing at all related to being a person of African Descent that humanized the everyday lived experience of being gay and breastfeeding.
I’ve decided to host a blog carnival here titled Black LGBTQ Breastfeeders: ‘Coming Out’ of the (BLACK) Breastfeeding Closet, and it is a way for all Black and African American LGBTQ-identified past, current or future breastfeeders and supporters who also identify as Afro-LGBTQ to convene in this place. A blog carnival is in many ways an online anthology. It calls for various people who can relate to, or who fit the sought after criteria, to weigh in on the subject at hand; this is done by submitting articles and essays you’ve written, poems, YouTube videos you have made and such from your perspective. The link at the beginning of this paragraph contains the list of details in that official ‘Call for Submissions,’ for anyone who wishes to participate. That is also where you will turn in your submissions by the deadline, and they will be published in the upcoming edition on this website. Of course if you still have any other questions you are able to contact me. African American Breastfeeding
I believe all points of view have value and add to this important topic. Regardless of your gender, whether you’ve breastfed, plan on it, have never done so, never plan on it, if you believe your identity may have prevented you from a successful breastfeeding relationship (like it almost did to a friend of mine), you wish so share a personal narrative or anything else along these lines I hope you will add to this long overdue conversation. I also hope that you will encourage a few others who may wish to join in on it. Because I’ve always thought that the current one — on breastfeeding among Black people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer, that exists — or, that does not exist — needs to change.
Or send it directly to lactationjourney (at) hotmail (dot) com
Note: The penultimate paragraph of this post was slightly changed and updated. I did not feel the original conveyed a clear message that this is indeed a ‘Call for Submissions’ and a request for posts on this topic for this upcoming carnival. I wanted to make sure I cleared up any potential misunderstanding or confusion. This also was really intended to be a ‘less words’ post and not a small novel. J
Many scientists suggest H. neanderthalensis existed alongside H. sapiens — modern Homo sapiens began to evolve about 200,000 years ago, and H. neanderthalensis in the late pleistocene 125,000 -30,000 years ago. Even though some may or may not agree with the evolutionary theory (I sometimes am not sure just exactly how much I subscribe to myself), I think this image is a perfect opportunity to provide insight on the way I often look at things.
Usually, when I think about the way we live today — foodways, gender, instinct, breastfeeding and other areas, I often times find myself comparing and maybe even fantasizing about life somewhere around this time. I think I mentally allow myself to go here because although it probably wasn’t, it seems like an ideal era. This period was long before we became infused with culture that sent us on a rapid plunge. It was before Sony Electronics began telling us we need their latest flatscreen, or everyone rushed out to buy the newest iPhone, and even before I sat here and typed this post on my macbook. Our foods weren’t genetically modified, and we didn’t subsist off of a diet of modern agriculture which is, as author Lierre Keith put it, soaked in fossil fuels and disease-laden. We actually followed our instincts back then, and many social issues that influenced our choices on discrimination, racism, class and others, didn’t exist. Breasts weren’t a source of learned sexual behavior and something for the ‘man,’ and homes meant living in a cave or a rock shelter; there was no need to purchase an extra piece of vacation property or anything else, I imagine, to make ourselves feel as if we’re fitting in. We were exceptionally healthy, and had what I imagine was an ideal reciprocal relationship with the land, plants, animals, and the environment — not built off of either one exploiting the other.
I could go on and on about this one here, but I’ll stop here since this was technically supposed to be a ‘Wordless‘ post with the image only, but, because I have to ramble a least some, morphed into ‘less words’ than I would usually write. And now it reading like a passionate novel. So I’ll just stop and leave space open for discussion. My only question is…. what the heck happened?
O’neill, Denny. Evolution of Modern Humans: Early Modern Homo Sapiens. http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_4.htm. Date accessed: March 27, 2013
University of Washington. Anthropology Department. Homo neanderthalensis. Image taken March 21, 2013.