How Audre Lorde Is Visionary and Revolutionary at Zami

1313 (3 pages)
Download for Free
Important: This sample is for inspiration and reference only

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name”, is a 1982 biomythography written by Audre Lorde that chronicles her life from growing up with immigrant parents in Harlem, NY to flourishing as a revolutionary black, lesbian woman and discovering the gay scene of New York City. “Biomythography” is the new genre Lorde invented for this book because it has elements of biography, myth, and history all in one. It recounts intricate and fascinating details of her personal life and her feelings towards certain events and people. She reflects upon how things in our own personal lives can have political and social meaning to them in the world around us as well. Therefore, “Zami” is not only a historical record of Lorde’s life, but also a challenging queer statement to the world. “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name”, is a prime example of Lorde’s visionary activism that was often times too revolutionary for her time period.

“Zami” is a Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers. 'To whom do I owe the woman I've become?' Lorde begins her biomythography with this question. She recognizes that her experiences and the people around her have shaped who she has become. From a small encounter with a girl at a grocery store, to a long-term relationship with an adult woman, Lorde is able to draw on her own experiences and reflect upon their deeper meanings in a political and social manner.

Audre Lorde is a revolutionary, simply for writing all her vulnerable experiences in one book. Lorde has said that what initially inspired her to start writing was the “need inside of [her] to create something that was not there.” Lorde used her poetic and powerful words to reclaim the power that society tried to take away from her. Her way of addressing issues was to give it a voice and in turn liberate others to do the same. Her ability to write down her personal experiences for others to read and find their own power in is revolutionary.

If 'Zami' Audre Lorde is considered a revolutionary piece of writing today, then it was even more revolutionary at the time it was published in 1982. The 1970s and 80s were a time when LGBTQ activism increased. Zami itself participated, as did Lorde, in this increased visibility of LGBTQ rights and struggles during the time period. Although the gay rights movement had sparked, only some people in the LGBTQ community were feeling liberated. Many activists were neglecting the struggles of queer people of color — fighting only one fight at time. Therefore, the writings of queer people of color and their experiences were often overlooked. Audre Lorde’s “Zami” is among these often neglected texts. In the twenty-first century, Lorde is now embraced as a revolutionary and visionary activist-writer, whose pivotal texts of resistance — like “Zami” — have received the long-overdue credit they deserve.

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name”, is such a powerful testament to the world because it is both personal and political. During the time Zami was published, it was a revolutionary act for a black, lesbian woman to be writing about her sexual encounters with other women. However, she writes about her dreams and desires in such an innocent and beautiful way that it would be hard for any homophobic person to deny her of her love. “I cried to think of how lucky we both were to have found each other, since it was clear that we were the only ones in the world who could understand what we understood in the instantaneous manner in which we understood it.” She claimed her social status and political power by reflecting upon the personal and intimate love she had with women.

No time to compare samples?
Hire a Writer

✓Full confidentiality ✓No hidden charges ✓No plagiarism

Lorde self-discovered her queer sense of loving from an early age. She describes her first “girl crush” on a friend in high school named Gennie, and then her first female lover, Ginger. These early desires for a sense of connection with women shaped Lorde’s coming of age in St. Mark’s Place during the late 50s.

As Lorde grew up, she became more and more comfortable with herself and the woman she identifies as, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her nomadic lifestyle made way for various relationships throughout her life. Every place represented a particular relationship. All the women she met, fell in love with, and fell out of love with taught her something about herself and the world.

Lorde was unapologetically, and simultaneously, both black and gay. However, not everyone is as comfortable with their sexuality as Lorde is. We see one of Lorde’s lovers, Kitty, struggle with coming to terms with it and wanting to hide how her heart really feels. Another character in Lorde’s life, Rhea, “is worried that not only with her friendship with a black woman will harm her professionally, but also the fact that the woman is a lesbian as well. These struggles are unique to the LGBTQ experience. Only those a part of the queer community fully understand what it’s like to hide parts of yourself in fear of prejudice — and this doubles when you are a person of color as well. This revolutionary concept is something Lorde understood early on -- that the struggles of marginalized people are all interconnected.

Lorde was one of the first to write in depth about one’s own multiple identities and their meaning in the world around us. Lorde can be recognized as one of the first activists to encourage intersectional ways of thinking in both the second-wave feminist movement and the gay rights movement in the 1980s. Intersectionality is a “theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of one's social and political identities, including gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc. might combine to create unique modes of discrimination.”

Lorde is quoted as saying there is “no thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives”. Although her multiple oppressions caused her hardships throughout her life, she also believed her sexuality gave her another dimension in addition to being black, an immigrant, and a woman. “It was hard To be Black, female, gay, and out of the closet in a white environment”. In “Zami”, she is able to write about her full experience as a black, lesbian woman and she claims her power by writing it down and sharing it to the world. She even criticizes other activists in “Zami” for not advocating for a multi-issued feminist movement, which was unpopular at the time and even today struggles for full recognition and acceptance.

Another reason, “Zami” was revolutionary was because Lorde did not filter herself when talking about queer topics, like being femme, or butch, or neither. “I wasn't cute or passive enough to be ‘femme, and I wasn't mean or tough enough to be ‘butch.’ I was given a wide berth. Non-conventional people can be dangerous, even in the gay community”.

She introduced newer ideas of gender presentation to the straight community — and even describes what we now call cis-women as “women identified women.” Lorde was ahead of her time and often thought about political and social topics in an intersectional manner, which was unpopular among women’s rights activists at the time. Lorde’s visionary activism helped pave the way for newer waves of intersectional queer activism that we see today.

Today, “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” is recognized as one of Lorde’s most visionary and pivotal texts because it was one of the first to introduce intersectional concepts of oppression. Through accounts of personal experiences, Lorde describes her evolution of self-awareness and sexuality, as an all-encompassing black, lesbian, immigrant woman. Her way of addressing issues was to give it a voice and in turn liberate others to do the same. By writing “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name”, Audre Lorde inspired people to embrace their personal identities, claim their political power in the world around them, and then start a revolution.

You can receive your plagiarism free paper on any topic in 3 hours!

*minimum deadline

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below

Copy to Clipboard
How Audre Lorde Is Visionary and Revolutionary at Zami. (2022, August 19). WritingBros. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
“How Audre Lorde Is Visionary and Revolutionary at Zami.” WritingBros, 19 Aug. 2022,
How Audre Lorde Is Visionary and Revolutionary at Zami. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Oct. 2023].
How Audre Lorde Is Visionary and Revolutionary at Zami [Internet]. WritingBros. 2022 Aug 19 [cited 2023 Oct 2]. Available from:
Copy to Clipboard

Need writing help?

You can always rely on us no matter what type of paper you need

Order My Paper

*No hidden charges