In order for us to fully appreciate our present and our future, we must embrace our past. Thanks to the women like Mabel Hampton, we are able to do that in insightful and personal ways. Throughout her life, Mabel collected letters, memorabilia and memories documenting her experience in the world as a black lesbian. She shares tales of private shindigs with Harlem Renaissance icons like Jackie “Moms” Mabley, and Bessie Smith.
In 1974, she contributed those pieces as well as her oral history to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York. For those who don’t know the LHA is the largest collection of material regarding lesbians. I kinda want to take a field trip myself.
And for my lesbian movie buffs, you might also know Ms. Hampton for her appearances in Silent Pioneers and Before Stonewall (a future Super Gay Movie of the Week).
One of the most insightful quotes about Mabel Hampton, would be one that she said herself.
“I’m glad I became [a lesbian]. I have nothing to regret. Not a thing. All these people run around going, ‘I’m not this, I’m not that.’ [Being gay] doesn’t bother me. If I had to do it over again, I’d do the same thing. I’d be a lesbian. Oh boy, I would really be one, then! I’d really be one! Oh boy!”
Miss Mabel, you might not be a super lesbian but you are definitely something like it… your willingness to live your truth, share your life, and sacrifice your privacy for the advancement of lesbians everywhere, and black lesbians specifically, is an inspiration.
Do you know any SLSLs in your neck of the woods? Email me at kristi at the kword dot com or tweet me @kristiweb.