America’s Black Queer History
Lecture & Talk
Head-to-Head: A Meeting of Inspired Minds
Registration: Please use this link to register for the event.
In the 1880s, a formerly enslaved Black American became the earliest-known self-described “drag queen” and the earliest-known queer activist in the United States. His name was William Dorsey Swann, and he inspired a rebellious group of butlers, coachmen, and cooks—most of them also formerly enslaved people—to risk their newly attained freedom, their livelihoods, and their reputations to create a secret world of crossdressing balls in Washington, DC—the center of American power, prestige, and influence. Swann’s organization is the only known LGBTQ+ resistance group formed until German physician Magnus Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, founded in 1897 in Berlin.
In this talk, Channing Joseph draws on previously unexplored archival sources to examine Swann’s far-reaching influence on US history and culture.
With: Channing Joseph, University of Southern California, Gero Bauer, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
In cooperation with: The American Academy in Berlin and Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hospitalhof Stuttgart
Generously supported by: Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, and Berthold Leibinger Stiftung GmbH.