Abstract

Using Jackie Kay's novel Trumpet, this essay looks at the "social death" of black queerness, a positionality situated outside the nation and outside blackness, as a site from which to explore what it would mean for black men to embrace the feminine within themselves. Although the concept of social death gives us information about the condition of the slave, it also helps inform the contours of the structural position of blackness well after the formal end of slavery. The essay focuses on the relationship between novel's protagonist, Joss, a black Scottish transman, and his son, Colman, and the potential offered by queer subjectivity to imagine possibilities denied by the heteropatriarchial nation-state. Joss's queerness exposes the impossibility of black manhood to occupy a position of liberal citizenship and Colman's recognition of the structural vulnerability of diasporic black manhood brought to his attention in his realization of Joss's queerness. The improvisational element of jazz enables Joss to perform and achieve his black masculinity, and that improvisation opens up space for Colman to accept femininity as an insurgent possibility for black manhood.

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