Jewelle Gomez (Cape Verdean/Ioway/Wampanoag) is an author, poet, critic, and playwright. She is the author of The Gilda Stories, a novel that explores slavery and racism in North and South America, and her work frequently tackles LGBTQ+ identity.
Her writing—fiction, poetry, essays and cultural criticism—has appeared in a wide variety of outlets, both feminist and mainstream. Her work centers on women's experiences,particularly those of LGBTQ women of color.
Gomez was raised in Boston during the 1950s, and her artistry, outlook, and activism were heavily influenced by her upbringing. Having been raised by her great-grandmother, who lived right around the corner, she was surrounded by strong women as her role models.
“I believe that because I had such close relationships with these women, it really made me appreciate women’s role in the culture before I would have ever used the word ‘feminist,’’ she said. “It also gave me a sense of history. My great-grandmother remembered things about being Native as a child—she had clear feelings about the dominant white culture and how oppression had affected her family.”
Her play Waiting For Giovanni, written in collaboration with actor-singer Harry Waters, Jr., premiered at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in 2011. Hailed as “riveting” by The Examiner and “a bold season opener” by San Francisco Chronicle that year, the play shines a light on the personal and professional struggles of acclaimed writer James Baldwin as he ponders the publication of his second novel; the story thoroughly and dramatically explores the challenges of intersectionality during the Civil Rights era (similar to the aforementioned adversity Gomez faced with 1970s black empowerment groups).
Gomez and her partner, Dr. Diane Sabin, were among the couples who sued California for the right to marry in 2008. They ultimately won that right for a brief period of time before Proposition 8 passed in November of that year, banning same-sex marriage in the state. Gomez currently serves as Director of Grants and Community Initiatives for the Horizons Foundation, the oldest LGBTQ+ foundation in the U.S.he was on the original staffs of "Say Brother," one of the first weekly, Black television shows in the U.S. (WGBH-TV, Boston) and "The Electric Company" (Children's Television Workshop, NYC) as well as and 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 was a commencement speaker at the University of California Berkeley's Women and Gender Studies Commencement,the University of California at Los Angeles Queer Commencement, and acted as a keynote speaker twice for Gay Pride in New York City and as a host for Pride San Francisco.