Ambivalent Affinities

A Political History of Blackness and Homosexuality after World War II

By Jennifer Dominique Jones

298 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7425-4
    Published: October 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7357-8
    Published: October 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7356-1
    Published: October 2023

Justice, Power, and Politics

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, 2024 Lambda Literary Award, LGBTQ Studies

In the early twenty-first century, comparisons between the modern civil rights movement and the movement for marriage equality reached a fever pitch. These comparisons, however, have a longer history. During the five decades after World War II, political ideas about same-sex intimacy and gender nonconformity—most often categorized as homosexuality—appeared in the campaigns of civil rights organizations, Black liberal elected officials, segregationists, and far right radicals. Deployed in complex and at times contradictory ways, political ideas about homosexuality (and later, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender subjects) became tethered to conceptualizations of Blackness and racial equality.

In this interdisciplinary historical study, Jennifer Dominique Jones reveals the underexamined origins of comparisons between Black and LGBT political constituencies in the modern civil rights movement and white supremacist backlash. Foregrounding an intersectional framing of postwar political histories, Jones demonstrates how the shared non-normative status of Blackness and homosexuality facilitated comparisons between subjects and political visions associated with both. Drawing upon organizational records, manuscript collections, newspaper accounts, and visual and textual ephemera, this study traces a long, conflicting relationship between Black and LGBT political identities that continues to the present day.

About the Author

Jennifer Dominique Jones is assistant professor of history and women’s and gender studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

For more information about Jennifer Dominique Jones, visit the Author Page.


"Jones moves beyond the high-water decades of the civil rights movement and the intense period of institutionalized homophobia to provide the most comprehensive history of the post–civil rights era to date."—John D'Emilio, author of Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood: Coming of Age in the Sixties

“An important, field transformative book that queers the history of mid-20th century social movements in the U.S. By treating race, gender, and sexuality as tightly entwined in both the postwar Black freedom struggle and lesbian and gay civil rights movement as well as in the rise of the New Right, Jones upends dominant assumptions about political mobilization and power in this period. This is queer political history at its very best.”—Christina B. Hanhardt, author of Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence