ln Search of Our Black Queer Ancestors: a Conversation between Historian-Journalist Channing Gerard Joseph and Susan Stryker


Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 5:00 PM PST
Mills College Sponsored Online Event

The historical photo is a 1903 image of Jack Brown with his dance partner. Brown was an American cake-walk dancer who performed in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. A portrait of Channing Joseph, seated, looking into the camera with a broad smile, wearing a blue, green and red plaid shirt, buttoned to the top button.

Presented by the Mills College Trans Studies Speaker Series

This event is part of the Mills College Black History Month 2021 programming.  For more information, please visit BHM21

This event is free and open to the public.
Registration required. Broadcast link will be provided on the day of the event.

The work of Channing Gerard Joseph (lecturer, University of Southern California) is an effort to recover and reclaim the histories and cultural contributions of queer Black Americans, particularly the queer community around William Dorsey Swann, a formerly enslaved Black man who was the first-documented drag queen. Joseph's research also explores the lives of Mary Jones/Peter Sewally, Frances Thompson, and other Black queer figures of the 19th century. 

Channing Gerard Joseph (he/him or she/her) is the author of the forthcoming House of Swann: Where Slaves Became Queens—and Changed the World” which follows the untold true story of William Dorsey Swann—an African-American man born into slavery who became the world's first self-described "drag queen" and the leader of possibly the world's earliest-known queer liberation organization. He is a 2019 winner of both the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant and the Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship, and a 2020 winner of a Logan Nonfiction fellowship. He teaches journalism at the University of Southern California. He is a former staff editor and writer at The New York Times and the Associated Press, and he was the first African-American editor of San Francisco Weekly. His reportage and essays have appeared around the globe in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, People, The Daily Mail, The New Zealand Herald, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, BET, CNN, MTV News and many other publications, including the 2013 New York Times anthology "The Socialite Who Killed a Nazi With Her Bare Hands." In 2016, he was a fellow of the International Center for Journalists and has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, and the Brooks and Joan Fortune Family Foundation.

The Mills College Trans Studies Speakers Series (MCTSSS), hosted by Emmy-Award winner Susan Stryker, Barbara Lee Distinguished Visiting Professor in Women's Leadership, offers a regular public forum for exploring transgender issues with some of today's leading thinkers, artists, and activists. All Trans Studies Speaker Series events are being held online and are free and open to the public. Be sure to check individual event listings to confirm the start time.

MCTSSS is co-sponsored by Trans Studies @ Mills College, Distinguished Visiting Professor Susan Stryker, Mills Performing Arts, and the History and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Programs at Mills College.

Contact: TransSpeakerSeries@mills.edu for any questions.

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More information on the Mills College Trans Studies Speaker Series.

The logo of the Mills College Trans Studies Speaker Series — Red lips, White teeth, a series shapes like irises Hazel, Blue, Pink, White, and a Brown fist raised.