Chef Cheryl, 2014 | Laylah Amatullah Barrayn


Chef Cheryl

Digital Photography

20×30 inches



You May Sit Beside Me: Black Women and Queer Identities

Photography by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn


You May Sit Beside Me: Black Women and Queer Identities is a series of photo-based

portraits and text narratives of Black women who identify as members of the LGBT (lesbian,

gay, bisexual, transgender) community. I created this work with the intention of bringing viewers

in conversation with multiple and diverse voices that articulate ‘queer’ identity among Black

women. I also wanted to address the variations of queer aesthetics in an urban setting.

My main concern was with the lives of Black lesbian women. I was curious about how they

strategized movement and negotiated spaces to ensure a sense of safety, comfort and

humanity. I wanted to highlight the challenges of navigating a society where heteronormative

values greatly inform the culture thus creating an air of resistance to inclusion. I thought it was

important that the testimonies of these women and their continued struggle to gain access to a

dignified life, needed to be disseminated visually.


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