CALL FOR PAPERS: To the Tenth Power: A Word from the LGBTQ+ Members of the Divine Nine

Proposed Anthology Title: To the Tenth Power: A Word from the LGBTQ+ Members of the Divine Nine

Deadline for Abstracts: 1159p Friday, October 1, 2021

Editor: Kendra N. Bryant, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina A&T State University (See bio at drknbryant.com.)  

Contact Email: thedivine10anthology@gmail.com

In May, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated posted to Instagram a graduation picture of themself[1] wearing a pink “woman’s” suit, black high heels, and an Alpha Phi Alpha sash. Needless to say, their post “broke the Internet.” It also broke some people’s notions of what an Alpha man is and what he is not, thus inspiriting this anthology I have tentatively titled: To the Tenth Power: A Word from the LGBTQ+ Members of the Divine Nine.

According to Funky Dineva, a self-identified gay Alpha man whose dragging performance is aired on his YouTube channel, the pink suited, high heeled Alpha member was “out of uniform”; he “bamboozled” the Alpha organization by hiding his sexuality (although what one wears doesn’t imply one’s sexuality), and he was wrong for attempting to “push agendas not sanctioned by the organization.” “Respectability politics make the world go round,” said Funky Dineva, who went on and on about why this graduating Alpha member’s performance was “dead wrong.” But more startling than any of those comments, according to Funky Dineva, whose May 18 posting has since amassed nearly 200,000 views, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated doesn’t belong to this assumingly genderqueer person: “This is these people stuff,” Funky Dineva stressed, “not yours.”

Funky Dineva’s position undoubtedly mirrors and reflects the white male heteronormative Christian culture to which too many Black people have grown accustomed, by which they have been dispirited, and with which they “spirit murder” other non-conforming Black folks. Nowhere is such self-annihilating practices and propaganda propelled as they are in affluent Black spaces such as the Black church, the Black university, and the Black social organization, including the Divine Nine—all of which do not solely belong to “these people,” but belong to all of us—straight, gay, lesbian, and queer. Alas, the Divine Nine—although constituting social organizations whose members are missioned to address social issues plaguing Black and brown people particularly—has historically assumed a respectability politic that does not “make the world go round,” but contributes and compounds the –isms Divine Nine members are “sanctioned” to help disrupt. Such participation so maintains the marginalization and erasure of Black and brown people whose narratives are either copped or not told at all.

Therefore, to disrupt respectability politics, to center marginalized voices, to affirm LGBTQ+ Divine Nine membership, and to reclaim belonging in (and ownership of) a Black organization purposed to ensure America’s unrealized democratic promise, I—a Black lesbian woman member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated—invite personal narratives and original poems from LGBTQ+ members of the Divine Nine organization of Black Greek sororities and fraternities to be compiled in an anthology I’ve tentatively titled: To the Tenth Power: A Word from the LGBTQ+ Members of the Divine Nine.

Submissions should not critically analyze or respond to neither the genderqueered Alpha Phi Alpha Instagram post nor Funky Dineva’s commentary about it. Instead, personal narratives and original poems should narrate (in creative non-fiction fashion) one’s own LGBTQ+ experience w/in the Divine Nine organization. Submissions must keep a non-academic audience in mind and therefore be composed in a voice that engages both scholars and non-scholars. Because this collection endeavors to center and affirm LGBTQ+ Divine Nine members, submissions should be written by openly declared, self-identified LGBTQ+ persons; however, submissions should avoid being a linear autobiography of events.

While topics (and experiences) will vary, submissions may possibly narrate:

  • how an LGBTQ+ person navigated or navigates their participation in their respective Divine Nine fraternity or sorority;
  • an instance(s) when an LGBTQ+ person was threatened, shamed, outted, ridiculed, and/or abused or harmed by other Divine Nine members;
  • when an LGBTQ+ member was forced to engage and/or perform heteronormative practices as punishment for or ridicule of their queerness;
  • why an LGBTQ+ member chooses to perform heteronormativity when engaging their Divine Nine organization;
  • a time when an LGBTQ+ member was ousted from organization practices and initiatives because of their queerness;
  • why an LGBTQ+ member of the Divine Nine has remained inactive;
  • what LGBTQ+ social justice work has an LGBTQ+ Divine Nine member attempted to activate in their organization (and what are the result and/or pushbacks, if any); and
  • why an LGBTQ+ person joined a historically traditional Black organization steeped in respectability politics.

LGBTQ+ submitters who have been supported by their Divine Nine organization should also contribute their narratives, for it is the ally (preferred co-conspirator) whose support of marginalized folk help to center their voices.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words proposing personal narrative ideas, along with a brief biography (and organizational affiliation), are due 1159p Friday, October 1 as a Word document to thedivine10anthology@gmail.com. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT WHOLE PAPERS UNLESS YOU ARE SUBMITTING A POEM, which cannot exceed two pages. If your abstract is accepted, submitters will submit a 4–10-page double spaced personal narrative in 12-pt-Times New Roman font. Submitters will also be encouraged (although not required) to submit personal photographs documenting their Divine Nine happenings.   

*Retrieve CFP in PDF here, and pass it on. 


[1] Because I am not acquainted with this person and am not aware of how s&/he identifies, I am using the plural pronoun. However, I use the male pronoun when paraphrasing and quoting other people’s ideas about this person who is the subject of this introductory call for papers.

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