Oral History with London Newton, Part 1

Special Collections at UNC Asheville
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:00 - Introduction

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Livvy, Interviewer: Oh wow. The more you know. Okay. Let's get started. How would you describe yourself, like gender, race, ability, socioeconomics.
London: I'm still kinda of figuring that out. I would say like queer, lesbian, broke.

Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Lesbian; Queer; University of North Carolina at Asheville; Western North Carolina

00:02:32 - Social Changes in Asheville

Play segment

Partial Transcript: London: Grind is fun. Yeah. I think the summer also brought a lot of Black people back to downtown and there hadn't been in a long time but I also still don't see white people downtown as much as I did at the beginning of the summer when George Floyd died and all that stuff. Yeah. I don't know.
London: I think Asheville is really good at looking like there's improvement when there's not. The way I described it the other day to someone was imagine a wall that's rotting and crumbling but there's a cute poster on top of it so you don't see it as much unless you actually live there.

Keywords: Asheville for Justice; Asheville, NC; Community; Community Needs; Downtown Asheville, NC; Mutual Aid; Reparations

00:08:25 - Childhood History

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Livvy, Interviewer: Describe where you grew up. How long did you live there? What was that place like?
London: I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. My school, I think there were like five Black kids there, including myself and most of us grew up together our whole lives. That was really not fun. I had racist teachers. I've been written up for things, like probably three or four times in my childhood for being violent when I wasn't
being. Just shitty stuff. You know.
London: My parents got divorced when I was like seven or eight and then we moved to Charlotte when I was 10. That was my first time, in fifth grade, being at a school that had a lot of Black kids and that was really jarring for me. I was used to seeing Black people at home. I had a bunch of Black and brown friends in my neighborhood but I did not grow up going to school with other Black kids and it called into question a lot of my Blackness and made me feel really shitty about that and on top of that and figuring out I'm queer and that was interesting to deal with at the same time.

Keywords: Charlotte, NC; Childhood; Columbus, OH; Divorce; Elementary School; Family; High School

00:15:45 - Work with Western North Carolina LGBTQ+ Organizations

Play segment

Partial Transcript: London: I haven't really done any work with any official organizations. The best thing, for me, has been just this summer all of the Black young organizers who were running or planning a lot of the protests and stuff downtown in Asheville, we all still talk almost every day and they've been just so important to me with my
Blackness, with my Black queerness. All these things. They've been a really amazing support group and I would not have been able to make it through the summer without them.
London: Yeah. I don't know about any official orgs. I haven't actually done a lot of work with any official groups but just being in community with other Black queer people has been really awesome because our UNCA Out, the gay club at our school, it's mostly white people and any time I've gone I just feel like everyone staresat me kind of weird. It's nice to just be in community with Black queer people.

Keywords: Anti-Racist; Black; Community; Downtown Asheville, NC; Queer

00:22:52 - Intersection of Black and Queer Identity

Play segment

Partial Transcript: London: Yeah. I mean, everyone is queer anyway. It can be across class and everything. I think it brings a lot of intersectionality to the discussion. At least, it should. That's the issue, right? That's why UNCA Out being so white is so gross because it's not like white people are more likely to be queer.
Livvy, Interviewer: It's interesting because I see queer people of color running the Affinity groups. I think especially back when I was a sophomore, sophomore and junior year, I was like, it's weird because we don't see any of us in those spaces but when I'm in these Affinity group spaces it feels like a queer space. I don't know what that's about.
London: No. I mean, it makes sense. It's because it's a group of people that's all-encompassing. When Black queer women are given room, everyone gets room. That's why. Or Black queer femmes. That's why.

Keywords: Asheville for Justice; Black; Intersectionality; Queer; Queer POC; Queer WOC; Race

00:29:25 - Being Black at UNCA, Isolationism of White Queer Spaces

Play segment

Partial Transcript: London: Yeah but it's like literally not. Our queerness is so connected to our race.
Livvy, Interviewer: I think especially when we are in spaces that are white, queer, it's like our race becomes brighter than in any other space that I've been in ... Yeah. Even when I'm in spaces that are white feminist spaces, yeah, my race becomes a big thing but it's not as big as when I'm in white queer spaces and I don't
understand why. Maybe I need to read more theory on that.

Keywords: Asheville, NC; Black; Intersectionality; Queer; Race; Racism; University of North Carolina at Asheville

00:36:07 - Online and Literary Impacts on Understanding Black Queer Identity

Play segment

Partial Transcript: London: I can't even think of specific people. A lot of it is just random people on TikTok. I've always been uncomfortable with just the label of lesbian and I couldn't really figure out why. I learned from a lot of Black queer people on TikTok that it's just like ... Also, I took this women of color and feminism class and we talked about how ... I can't remember who said this, it's a very famous quote, though, that the femininity of white women completely depends on the subjugation of Black women. White women are able to stay feminine and soft because Black women are doing all the hard work.
Livvy, Interviewer: That sounds like a bell hooks quote.
London: Yeah. White women are able to be so pretty because it's based off of them being different from Black women and better. That on top of just seeing a lot of queer Black folks on TikTok, I feel this ... I'm still figuring my life out but I've started to see why I wasn't just comfortable being called a lesbian and why I
felt this disconnection with the word woman but connection with the word Black woman.

Keywords: "TikTok"; African American Literature; Alice Walker; Black Literature; Black Woman; Black Women; Harlam Reniassance; Internet; Literature; Social Media

00:40:13 - Gender and Sexuality Theory

Play segment

Partial Transcript: London: Yes. I love lesbianism. I love ... I really want to read my lesbian theory but I saw this thing talking about how being lesbian is not being a woman who loves women. It's about living a life in absence of men. She was telling bisexual women, she was like literally ... You know, bisexual women are always like, "I
wish I was a lesbian" then be a lesbian. Okay, you can still have attraction to men and choose not to put your effort into those relationships. You can fuck men and decide to raise your children with other women. You can have sex with men and choose to live a life revolving around the other women in your life.
London: I was just like, "Wow. I mean, I literally don't have sex with men but I just never conceptualized lesbianism as not just a sexuality, as a lifestyle choice and as a choice to like be for women. Then on top of that it's like thinking about womanism and all that.

Keywords: Lesbian; Partiarchy; Queer Women; Women Loving Women