Jewelle Gomez

Jewelle Gomez (born 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American writer, lesbian feminist and cultural worker.  Gomez was raised by her great grandmother, Grace, who was born on Indian land in Iowa to an African American mother and Ioway father. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s she was shaped socially and politically by the close family ties with her great grandmother, Grace and grandmother Lydia. Their history of independence as well as the marginalization within the African American community are referenced throughout her work. Her high school and college years, Gomez was involved with Black political and social movements which are reflected in much of her writing. Subsequent years in New York City she spent in Black theatre including work with the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop and many years as a stage manager for off Broadway productions.

She became involved in lesbian feminist activism and magazine publication. She was a member of the CONDITIONS, a lesbian feminist literary magazine. More recent writing has begun to reflect her Native American (Ioway, Wampanoag) heritage. Her work lives at the intersection of these multiple ethnicities, the ideals of lesbian/feminist class. Jewelle Gomez is a writer and activist and the author of the double Lambda award winning novel, THE GILDA STORIES from Firebrand Books. Her adaptation of the book for the stage, “Bones and Ash: A Gilda Story,” was performed by the urban Bush Women company in 13 US cities. The script was published as a Triangle Classic by the Paperback Book Club. She is the recipient of a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; two California Arts Council Fellowships and an Individual Artist Commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Her fiction, essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in numerous periodicals. Among them: The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Ms. Magazine, ESSENCE Magazine, The Advocate, Callaloo and Black Scholar. She has served on literature panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the California Arts Council. She was on the original staffs of “Say Brother”, one of the first weekly Black television shows in the US (WGBH-TV, Boston) and “The Electric Company” (Children’s television Workshop, NYC) as well as on the founding board of the “ Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” (GLAAD). She was an original member of the boards of the Astraea Foundation and the Open Meadows Foundation. She edited (with Eric Garber) a fantasy fiction anthology entitled SWORDS OF THE RAINBOW (Alyson Publications (1996) and selected the fiction for THE BEST LESBIAN EROTICA OF 1997 (Cleis).

She has presented lectures and taught at numerous institutions of higher learning including San Francisco State University, Hunter College, Rutgers University, New College of California, Grinnell College, San Diego City College, The Ohio State University and the University of Washington (Seattle). She is the former director of the Literature Program at the New York State Council on the Arts and of Cultural Equity Grants at the San Francisco Arts Commission. She also served as Executive Director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University. She is currently a member of the San Francisco Library Commission. Her new projects include a comic novel about black activists of the 1960’s as they face middle age. She is also working with actor Harry Waters Jr. and director, Arturo Catricala on “Waiting for Giovanni,” a play based on the life of author James Baldwin.