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Letter to Audre Lorde

The letter dated February 6, 1992, from CLAGS is addressed to Audre Lorde and invites her to be the first recipient of CLAGS’ annual Kessler award. The Kessler award, given by CLAGS each year since its sophomore year in 1992, was created with an endowment by Doctor David R. Kessler to award “a leading figure in gay/lesbian life and thought.” The recipient of the Kessler award is invited to give a lecture. Audre Lorde was a much celebrated black, lesbian, and feminist icon, who taught at multiple CUNY colleges throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She helped to create John Jay’s Black studies department and went on to become the distinguished Thomas Hunter chair at Hunter College. While it is unclear if any version of this draft was ever sent, the first Kessler award was ultimately awarded to Joan Nestle. Lorde passed away from breast cancer on November 17, 1992, just three days before the Kessler award ceremony had been scheduled.

Although formally instituted at the CUNY Graduate Center in 1991, CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies was first conceived 5 years earlier by Martin, Duberman, one of the first historians to embrace the, then infantile, field of Queer Studies. Duberman sensed the need for a formal center devoted to queer research. As the first university-based center for LGBTQ research, CLAGS continues to demonstrate its dedication to advancing Queer Studies, by hosting public events showcasing queer research and sponsoring fellowships to support queer scholars. Among its many notable contributions, CLAGS annually puts on at least one major conference and holds the Kessler Award Lecture every fall to celebrate a queer scholar who has made a notable contribution to the field of queer studies.

Source | CLAGS Archive
Creator | Duberman, Martin
Date Created | February 6, 1992
Rights | Copyright CLAGS Archive
Item Type | Text (Correspondence)
Cite This document | Duberman, Martin, “Letter to Audre Lorde ,” CUNY Digital History Archive, accessed May 20, 2024,


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