The Historical Roots of Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Black/White Intimacy

Amy C. Steinbugler

in Beyond Loving

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199743551
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979370 | DOI:
The Historical Roots of Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Black/White Intimacy

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This chapter provides a context for analyzing contemporary interracial narratives by offering a brief social history of heterosexual and same-sex interracial intimacy. This history begins with the early antimiscegenation laws in Virginia and Maryland. It describes the double standard embodied in these laws that effectively outlawed “fornication” and marriage between Black men and White women, even as White men engaged in widespread rape of enslaved Black women. Sex between White men and Black women increased the former’s power, status, and property, while sex between Black men and White women often resulted in brutal beatings or lynchings. Interracial intimacy remained exceedingly rare after the Civil War, especially in the Jim Crow South. The chapter continues by examining early records of same-sex interraciality at the end of the nineteenth century. It discusses interracial sex and sociability during the Harlem Renaissance, a period when “slumming” came into vogue and White patrons crossed segregated cityscapes to visit Harlem nightclubs and speakeasies. The chapter then describes the bar and rent-party scene among gays and lesbians in the early-to-mid-twentieth century and concludes with a brief discussion of the legal case Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

Keywords: miscegenation; slavery; power; rape; lynch; Harlem Renaissance; rent party; slumming; racial segregation; Loving v. Virginia

Chapter.  6289 words. 

Subjects: Race and Ethnicity

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