“That Which We Are Still Learning to Name”

Two Photographs of Black Queer Intimacy

Unknown photograph in the author's collection.

ACCESS PURCHASE
Students and scholars can access articles for free via Project Muse.

“That Which We Are Still Learning to Name”

Two Photographs of Black Queer Intimacy

by Jessica Lynne
Southern Cultures, Vol. 26, No. 2: Art & Vision

“They have come to this afternoon prepared to immortalize an intimacy.”

I have carried a photograph on my person for the past year now. Like my debit card, lip balm, or driver’s license, this photograph has become part of my daily essentials kit. In the black-and-white image, two women clad in patterned and madras print dresses and low kitten heels sit on a rock and embrace casually yet lovingly. One woman rests against the chest of the other, wrapped in the arms of her companion. The woman who is held gazes directly and assuredly at the camera. The other woman looks softly at her companion. It is as if they have been preparing for this moment of capture. Here is the sun, they might have said. It’s best for us to sit this way. You are almost there. A friend, a loved one, a sister, or an aunt steadying their hands on the camera.