On Wednesday, March 29th, the College of Staten Island welcomed Lisa C Moore, the the founder and editor of RedBone Press. Moore greeted a packed room of around 100 students, faculty, and staff who attended the program. Professor Brim took the stage with her and conducted a casual interview, before turning the room over to student questions. She discussed a wide array of issues and complexities surrounding publishing black lesbian and gay literature, including reception from the black community, reception from the queer community, the trials and travails of dealing with the mainstream publishing industry, complexities around getting bookstores to carry RedBone’s books, and what it’s like to be a pioneer in the field. RedBone Press is notable for being the publisher of otherwise hard to find black gay and lesbian novels, but the press has also republished works of significance that might otherwise have gone out of print (Brother to Brother is an example).
For me, the most compelling part of Moore’s story was how she got started. After being told by publishers that there was no market for black lesbian short stories, Moore founded her own press because she knew it wasn’t true (she was right! RedBone’s first publication, does your mama know, has been reprinted numerous times and won two LAMBDA Literary Awards). This kind of gumption and courage is inspiring to me as a person who studies the ways in which DIY or counter-cultural publishing models fill a gap in establishment publishing practices. As a small press created specifically to counter a dearth of existing black gay and lesbian publishing, Moore is practicing the spirit of “if you don’t see it, make it yourself” ideology familiar to me from DIY literary spaces. Around midway through the audience q&a, one student asked Moore if she sees herself as a role model. This is the singular moment when Moore lost her words; it took some prompting from Professor Brim for her to acknowledge that she probably is seen as a role model by others. Later in the evening, another student raised her hand and declared, “You really are a role model!” CSI was honored to have her visit with us.
Read RedBone books for free at the CSI Library:
The Library’s guide to books on Black Gay & Lesbian Publishing: read it HERE
The event was sponsored by Women Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Bertha Harris Women’s Center, International Studies Program, Department of Media Culture, Department of Social Work, Department of English, American Studies Program, the LGBTQ Resource Center, Department of the Library, and the Center for Career and Professional Development. You can see the flier for the event HERE
–by Prof Anne Hays