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. For this reason, I’ve included a list of Black bisexual/fluid activists and creators at the end of this post to give you (and your social media algorithms) a jump start.
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
• “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 Perspectives, particularly “Part II: Indigenous and Decolonizing Spiritual Discourses”.
• Eliminating Biphobia Through Breath, Brotherhood, and the Arts by H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams
• “Worth the Balancing” by Alan Silver (from Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out)
• Many personal essays, poems, and interviews throughout the history of Bi Women Quarterly!
• 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 discusses her relationships with men and women.
• Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow discusses questioning his sexuality and coming out as bisexual.
• A Woman Like Me by Bettye LaVette discusses her relationships with men and women.
• Any of bisexual humorist Samantha Irby’s essay collections (We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Wow 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 she discusses her bisexuality, but I do remember it was very good!
• My Life in Porn: The Bobby Blake Story by bisexual pornporn star Bobby Blake.
• The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village by Samuel R. Delaney. Delaney now identifies as gay, but at the time of this memoir he identified as bisexual and wrote about that experience.
POETRY ABOUT identity, LOVE AND SEXUALITY
• Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan by bisexual poet June Jordan
• The Body in Its Seasons and This Isn’t Godhood by bisexual/queer poet Maz Hedgehog / M.S. Ikeji
• Race. Resistance. Love. by bisexual poet H. Sharif Williams
• Black Queer Hoe by pansexual/queer poet Britteney Black Rose Kapri
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
• Color, Sex and Poetry: Three Women Writers of the Harlem Renaissance by Gloria T. Hull
creators and activists
Let’s be honest, I can’t even scratch the surface of Black bisexual activism here — consider this a list of fantastic people whose work and social media feeds will lead you toward many, many more Black creators and activists who should have your attention.
• Scholar, educator, theorist, writer, poet, and hem netcher tepi H. Sharif Williams.
• Speaker, writer, educator and advocate Angélique “Angel” Gravely.
• Scholar, educator, and speaker Blair Imani.
• Writer, poet and actor Kimberly L Session.
• Performer, podcaster and activist Bob the Drag Queen / Caldwell Tidicue.
• Singer-songwriter, poet, writer, and activist Denarii Grace.
• Writer and podcaster Aubree Calvin.
• Writer, organizer, and campaigner Rhammel Afflick.
• Writer and performer Maz Hedgehog.
• Speaker and diversity consultant Sanisha Wynter.
• Abolitionist lawyer and writer Andrew Reginald Hairston.
• Writer, actor, and activist Keah Brown.
• Writer, director, and actor David J. Cork.
Christine, I hope this list helps you get started! 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.