by Theresa Raffaele Jefferson
Black lesbians are everywhere and nowhere all at once. Throughout history we have been made invisible. This invisibility serves as a constant reminder that our culture, and indeed our very lives are considered at best illegitimate. At the same time, our identity as Black lesbians has been made hyper-visible when we have tried to remain in the wings. In these instances hyper-visibility becomes a means of punishment-a penalty for not understanding or refusing to abide by societal mandates. The experiences of Black lesbians in law and society illustrate this seeming invisibility/hyper-visibility paradox. Yet the tools of invisibility and hyper-visibility serve the same purpose-the legitimation of dominant cultural control. Invisibility and hyper-visibility compliment each other. They act in concert, as a dual cultural strategy of distortion, suppression, and punishment. A consistent Black lesbian jurisprudence has emerged whereby Black lesbians and our rights are erased at the intersection of our race, gender, and sexual orientation. This Note is an attempt to explore the lives of Black lesbians, to uncover law and society’s desire for us to remain seen or unseen depending on the context, and to provide a starting point for others to conduct future research.
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