Bisexual non-fiction by Black writers

SERIES: ASK THE BI PAN LIBRARY

Black writers on bisexuality and fluid sexuality

Hello 🙂 I have read some non-fiction about bisexuality but I have overwhelmingly just seen books by white people. Do you have any recommendations of bisexual non-fiction by Black writers?
Much love, Christine

Hi Christine, what a delightful question!

There is quite a bit of writing about bisexual and sexually fluid identity by Black writers, and I’ve compiled a booklist below across a variety of forms. A few of the individual essays are found in difficult-to-find out-of-print books, so if you are interested in a particular essay but cannot purchase or borrow the book yourself, please contact me to set up a viewing or scan of the library’s copy.

I also want to note that although this list focuses on published works (because that is what the Bi Pan Library primarily focuses on), printed-and-bound books are just one of many ways to engage with the deep well of Black bisexual/fluid experience and wisdom. Digital resources like blogs, social media, YouTube, and podcasts are also fantastic ways to connect with modern Black bisexual/fluid perspectives.

BOOKS focused on bi/fluid identity

Finding the B in LGBTQ+ History: Tips & Tools for Learning Bisexual+ History by Angélique Gravely

Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality, and Spirituality by bisexual scholar and activist H. Sharif Williams, perhaps the most prominent living Black bisexual writer.

Black Enough Man Enough: Embracing My Mixed Race and Sexual Fluidity by Gee Smalls

ESSAYS

• “A New Politics of Sexuality” by June Jordan is a powerful piece of bisexual writing. It was originally published in The Progressive in 1991, but was later published in essay collections such as Some of Us Did Not Die. The Bi Pan Library has a copy of the original issue of The Progressive

• “Erotic Computer: Janelle Monáe’s Black Queer Femme Representation and the Lens of Audre Lorde’s Writing” by Jessica Brough(from The Bi-ble: New Testimonials)

‘I Still Feel Like I Can’t Quite Be Myself’: Bisexual Students’ Experiences with Invisibility, Marginalization, and — Exclusion Within LGBTQ+ Camps Spaces” by Jayna Tavarez(from The Bi-ble: New Testimonials)

• “Fluid Desire: Race, HIV/AIDS, and Bisexual Politics by Elias Farajaé aka Manuel Kalidas Congo (from Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, and Visions)

• “Politics of the Bisexual Deep-Fry” by Michèlle T. Clinton (from Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, and Visions)

• “Celebrating bisexuality, beyond the silos” edited by mpho ndaba

• Several sections that may be of interest to you in Sexuality, Religion and the Sacred: Bisexual, Pansexual and Polysexual Perspectivesparticularly “Part II: Indigenous and Decolonizing Spiritual Discourses”. 

• “Worth the Balancing” by Alan Silver (from Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out)

• Several personal narratives, poems, interviews, and art pieces in Plural Desires: Writing Bisexual Women’s Realities you may find interesting. Notably, it was published in collaboration with Sister Vision: Black Women & Women of Color Press.

• Several personal narratives from Black bi/pan/fluid men in Rec*og*nize the Voices of Bisexual Men, co-edited by H. Sharif Williams. 

• Several personal narratives from Black bi/pan/fluid people in Getting Bi : Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.

MEMOIR & BIOGRAPHY

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay covers her relationships with men and women. 

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow covers him questioning his sexuality and coming out as bisexual.

A Woman Like Me by Bettye LaVette covers her relationships with men and women.

• Any of bisexual humorist Samantha Irby’s essay collections (We Are Never Meeting in Real LifeWow No Thank You, and Meaty) discuss her love and sex life.

• The biography Alice Walker: A Life and Rebecca Walker’s memoir Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) and her daughter Rebecca Walker (prominent activist, coined the term “third wave feminism”), both identify as bisexual. Rebecca has another memoir about parenting, called Baby Love : Choosing Motherhood after a Lifetime of Ambivalence.

Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood by June Jordan. I read this quite a while ago and do not recall if this book covered her bisexuality, but I do remember it was very good! 

POETRY ABOUT identity, LOVE AND SEXUALITY

Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan by June Jordan

The Body in Its Seasons and This Isn’t Godhood by Maz Hedgehog / M.S. Ikeji

Race. Resistance. Love. by H. Sharif Williams

books focused on THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE

I am including a short list of books about sexually fluid figures during the Harlem Renaissance because it is a fascinating and particularly well-documented period of Black bi/pan/fluid history.

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis

Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters by Donald Bogle

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments : Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman

Lady Sings the Blues by Billie Holiday

Christine, I hope this list helps you get started! I’m sure if you keep exploring, you’ll find new books and authors the Bi Pan Library should know about — stay in touch and let me know what we’re missing!

Do you have a question for the Bi Pan Library? Let us know what you’re searching for, we’re here to help.