CFP: Black Queer Subjectivity

Special guest-edited issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color
Editors: Dr. Belinda Deneen Wallace and Dr. Tanya L. Shields
Stichtag: 15.07.2021

2021 marks the 25th anniversary of Cheryl Duyne’s seminal mockumentary The Watermelon Woman; it also marks the 5th anniversary of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Academy Award winning film, Moonlight. Although released twenty years apart, both films wrestle with questions around Black queer subjectivity. By “Black queer subjectivity,” we are evoking the multiplicity that shapes Black queer identities, positionalities, and belonging—including corporeal, sexual, ephemeral, euphoric, cultural, intimate, and spiritual modes. This special issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color is interested in how our notions of Black queer subjectivity have evolved since The Watermelon Woman. For example, you might consider The Watermelon Woman’s interrogation of the archives/history; its representation of Black lesbians/queer women; its use of humor; and its utopian futuristic stance and how these elements have influenced subsequent representations of Black queer subjectivity, including representations revealed in a film like Moonlight. Accordingly, we are interested in artistic  representations and scholarly analysis of Black queer subjectivity that were produced, in the United States as well as abroad, between 1996 and 2021. We seek voices that expand our understanding of Black queer subjectivity by troubling Blackness, queerness, and subjectivity as well as the space(s) where they converge with other categories. In this way, this special issue looks to not only examine the legacy of The Watermelon Woman by exploring how the film continues to resonate, but also consider how the film’s spirit, has influenced the crafting new scholarly and creative works that speaks to the themes of Black queer subjectivity, imaginative universes, and belonging.

We invite intersectional and interdisciplinary work in the form of essays, poems, personal narratives, and creative non-fiction. We are especially keen on pieces that are situated in the arts and humanities (including film, literature, graphics/comics, visual art, music, dance, and drama). Among the possible themes/topics to be considered:

  • Being: a study on identity formation and how it can be utilized to destabilize essentialist notions of queerness/queer identity all the while unpacking various (new and/or underexplored) ways of being Black and queer. For example, how might our notions of lesbians/queer women be expanded through a comparative analysis of the US-based The Watermelon Woman and the Kenyan-based Rafiki?
  • Imagining Belonging(s): an investigation on queer belonging as a form of comfort, relatedness, or value in inclusive spaces as well as in spaces and places that may at first appear antithetical to queerness. For example, how does Black queer subjectivity manifest in web series, visual art, or in speculative fiction?
  • Euphoric Visions: consider the ways in which joy contributes to and/or is part and parcel of the shaping of  Black queer subjectivity. For example, how might Lil Nas X’s Montero be read as an expression of Black queer joy?
  • Intersections: examines the ways in which Blackness, queerness, and subjectivity converge with other modes. For example, how might Black queer subjectivity show up in coming of age narratives like Hurricane Child and Felix Ever After?
  • Juxtapositions: a comparative analysis that explores The Watermelon Woman and/or Moonlight in relationship to other films and literary texts. For example, what might a conversation between Moonlight and Pariah look like?

This list is not exhaustive. We welcome all unpublished pieces that adhere to the theme of “Black queer subjectivity” and apply an intersectional lens to their interpretations and creations.

Please send detailed abstracts of approximately 500 words along with a short biographical statement (200 words) to by Thursday, July 15, 2021. Authors will be contacted for initial drafts of selected papers (10-15 pages) due by Wednesday, September 15, 2021 and notified about the status of their submission by the beginning of October 2021. Full drafts (20-25 pp) will be due in mid-January 2022 for an anticipated publication date of Spring 2023.

Women, Gender, and Families of Color is a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed publication that centers the study of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian American women, genders, and families. It welcomes comparative and transnational research as well as analyses of domestic social, cultural, political, and economic policies and practices within the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities. Issues are available in libraries through Project MUSE and JSTOR. WGFC is published electronically and in hard copy in the spring and fall. It is sponsored by the University of Kansas and published by the University of Illinois Press.

For more information about the “Black Queer Subjectivity” guest-edited special issue, please contact Dr. Belinda Deneen Wallace at and/or Dr. Tanya L. Shields at

Belinda Deneen Wallace is an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of New Mexico.

Tanya L. Shields is an associate professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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