Abstract

Using Stonewall as an anchor point, this article charts the coterminous relationship between the black liberation movement and the gay liberation movement with special emphasis on the relationship between the Black Panther Party and the Gay Liberation Front. It begins with an assessment of the political and social context of 1969 to discuss the importance of rhetorical adjacency in the collaboration between the movements. Rhetorical adjacency describes how movements borrow and share political frameworks, movement goals, terminology, and spatial sensibility as they navigate points of ideological contention, especially around identity issues. The rhetorical adjacency of these two movements is complicated by the early critiques of the gender politics of the Panthers, which the first section takes up at length. Then, the article turns to critiques of policing, imprisonment, capitalism, and colonialism absorbed and redeployed by the gay liberation movement from the black liberation movement to understand how activists during and after Stonewall conceptualized police power, resistance, and movement strategy. The article concludes with a discussion of the Black Panther Party Chairman Huey Newton’s rhetorical defense of gay liberation as a revolutionary perspective in the wake of Stonewall to understand how and why the Panthers saw promise in intentional adjacency with gay liberation activists as well as to demonstrate why gay liberation activists praised Newton and collaborated with the Panthers. The rhetorical adjacency between the organizations amplified radical black and gay movement politics, circulating rhetorical tropes that continued to mobilize activism.

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