Jayme Canty

Faculty Spotlight: Jayme Canty, PhD

Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Written by Julian Kevon Glover, PhD, Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and Dance & Choreography


When Dr. Jayme Canty arrived at VCU's Monroe Park campus in Fall 2019 to teach her Black Queer Politics course, she expected to be greeted by a bunch of enthusiastic students. While Professor Canty did meet a number of students eager to learn, there was one student who quickly stood out for an entirely different reason: they relentlessly stared at Dr. Canty throughout the first class meeting. “I kept thinking to myself,” Dr. Canty recounts, “Am I saying things that are too controversial, new or wrong to this student?” After class, the student approached Dr. Canty, apologized for staring, noting that they were overcome with emotions as it was nice to finally have a Black professor. This memorable experience reflects the impact of Dr. Canty’s presence and work during her time at VCU.

Dr. Canty’s scholarship focuses on the ways race, gender, and sexuality manifest in the American South, and their specific impact on the lives of Black queer lesbian women and persons living in/from the American South. She conducted oral history research on the social, economic, and political experiences of Southern Black queer lesbian women and gender nonconforming persons, particularly the way the Christian Black Church impacts the lives of Southern Black queer lesbian women and nonconforming people, and the ways the church becomes a space of resistance and healing for them. From these extensive interviews, Canty secured a book contract with SUNY Press for a manuscript entitled Snapping Beans: Voices of a Black Queer Lesbian South. This manuscript uses an autoethnographic method to uncover a regional narrative of Southern queer lesbian women and gender nonconforming persons to investigate how geographic location molds intersectional identities. 

In Snapping Beans, Canty centralizes the South as a major character in this narrative and uncovers how the South serves as an identity marker for this population. In this collective narrative, Canty explores how the South acts as a main character in their/our narrative. Moreover, Snapping Beans examines the trauma Black queer women and gender nonconforming persons experience in this region, and demonstrates their reclamation of the South as home; not only is the South a marker of their salient identity, but it is also a potential geographical site of wholeness. Their connection to the South and their embrace of their Southern identity is crucial to their articulation of what wellness means to them. In order to establish this connection, in this work Canty invokes the practice of snapping beans as an opportunity for Black queer lesbian women and gender nonconforming persons to identify their connections to the South as a place and space of wholeness.

Dr. Canty is a dedicated teacher who remains deeply invested in transforming how students think about the political, economic, and cultural issues that affect them and many across the United States. At VCU, Canty’s hallmark course, Black Queer Politics, is committed to exploring Black historical and contemporary experiences, using a Black feminist lens to evaluate the ways Black queer identity politics manifest in the political realm. The course is cross-listed for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, African American Studies, and Political Science students. Dr. Canty’s previous courses include Black Feminisms and African Diaspora and the World.

Dr. Canty’s future work focuses on the ways southern Black queer women engage in activism as a means of resistance, and specifically considers how digital humanities can be harnessed to ensure the experiences of Black queer lesbian folks remain at the forefront of theorizing in the digital era—thus, ushering in new methods of storytelling. Dr. Canty is also a member of the iCubed Intersections in the Lives of LGBTQIA+ Communities; when she isn’t working or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her wife, Eboni Williams, making lotion bars and following true crime documentaries and stories. Dr. Canty is a joy to be in community with, and an outstanding pedagogue and scholar, whose contributions continue to inspire and transform everyone who has the opportunity to engage with her.


Select Publications

  • Canty, Jayme, “‘The ‘Swelling Wave of Oppression’: An Intersectional Study to Evaluate the Health Challenges of Self-Identified Black Queer Women in the American South.” Book chapter in Black Women and Public Health: Regenerative History, Practice, and Planning; Black Women's Wellness Book Series, State University of New York (SUNY) Press.(APA)
  • Canty, Jayme, “Rape," "Black Church," and "Audre Lorde Project" entries. In Angela Jones, Ed, African American Activism and Political Engagement: An Encyclopedia of Empowerment. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. In Press, released Spring 2022