Shade: Literacy Narratives at Black Gay Pride


  • Seth E. Davis Curry College



Black queer literacies, throwing shade, queer, Black feminism, popular culture, signifying, snapping, embodied literacies, literacy narratives


Despite significant work on literacy as a situated practice (Brandt; Street; Gee), in the African American community (Banks; Richardson; Young) and in the LGBT community (Alexander; Alexander and Rhodes), only recently have scholars looked at literacy at the intersection of Black and LGBT people. A notable example is Eric Pritchard’s discussion of “literacy normativity” and the multilayered ways in which Black queer literacies function(Darnell). In this multimedia article, the social space I focus on is Washington, DC, Black Gay Pride 2013, where I discussed shade and shade narratives with seven men and one transgender woman. A main finding of this research was that participants typically relied on narrative to illustrate how shade was thrown; in fact, narrative is a necessary component of catching shade. These narratives provide situated examples of throwing shade while foregrounding the subjectivities or backstories that give throwing shade traction. In this way, throwing shade as a part of a larger “fierce literacy” talks back to literacy normativity and  speaks to Black queer people’s relationships with one another, with language, and with the larger culture.

Author Biography

Seth E. Davis, Curry College

Dr. Seth E. Davis joined Curry College in the fall of 2018 as an Assistant Professor in the Writing Program. Dr. Davis recently earned his Doctorate from Syracuse University in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, as well as a certificate of advanced study in Women and Gender Studies.  In his dissertation, he examined practices of reading, throwing shade, and pulling trade as "fierce literacies" in the Black queer community. Dr. Davis is a native of Memphis Tennessee and his hobbies include painting, hiking, and fighting White supremacist patriarchy. Dr. Davis is also currently working on his first documentary about Black queer language.





How to Cite

Davis, S. E. (2019). Shade: Literacy Narratives at Black Gay Pride. Literacy in Composition Studies, 7(2), 56–89.