Marlon M. Bailey

Marlon M. Bailey

Professor of African and African American Studies, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Faculty Affiliate in the Performing Arts Department and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Equity
Associate Chair
Co-Director of Graduate Studies
Ph.D. African American Studies (Women, Gender, and Sexuality), University of California-Berkeley 2005
M.A. African American Studies, University of California-Berkeley
M.F.A. Theatre Performance (Acting), West Virginia University
B.A. Theatre/Speech Education, Olivet College
research interests:
  • Queer Theory, Gender, and Sexuality, performance and HIV/AIDS prevention, Black Studies
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    • MSC 1109-0137-02
      One Brookings Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63130
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    Marlon M. Bailey is a Black queer theorist and critical/performance ethnographer who studies Black LGBTQ cultural formations, sexual health, and HIV/AIDS prevention. He has served as the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor in Africana Studies at Carleton College; the Distinguished Weinberg Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University, and a Visiting Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

    Marlon is a member of the committee that co-authored the award-winning report, Understanding the Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Populations, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). This report won the 2021 Achievement Award from The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA).

    Marlon’s book, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2013. In 2014, Butch Queens Up in Pumps won the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize awarded by the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Book Award in LGBT Studies. Dr. Bailey has published in the Architecture Review, American Quarterly, GLQ, Signs, Feminist Studies, Souls, Gender, Place, and Culture, The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, QED, AIDS Patient Care and STDs, LGBT Health, Health Promotion Practice, and several edited volumes.

    Marlon’s current book manuscript in progress, Black Gay Sex, is an ethnographic examination of the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on Black gay men’s sexuality. His manuscript is under contract with the University of California Press. He also co-edits (with Jeffrey McCune) the New Sexual Worlds Book Series, also with the University of California Press.

    Marlon is a member of the Black Sexual Economies Collective which edited the volume, Black Sexual Economies: Race and Sex in the Culture of Capital, published by the University of Illinois Press (2019). Marlon is also a performing artist and presented his solo performance called, “Exploring Black Gay Sex, Love, and Life,” at Concordia University and McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He holds a PhD in African Diaspora Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the Department of African American Studies and Gender and Women's Studies respectively from the University of California, Berkeley.

    Butch Queens Up in Pumps

    Butch Queens Up in Pumps

    Butch Queens Up in Pumps examines Ballroom culture, in which inner-city LGBT individuals dress, dance, and vogue to compete for prizes and trophies. Participants are affiliated with a house, an alternative family structure typically named after haute couture designers and providing support to this diverse community. Marlon M. Bailey’s rich first-person performance ethnography of the Ballroom scene in Detroit examines Ballroom as a queer cultural formation that upsets dominant notions of gender, sexuality, kinship, and community.

    Butch Queens Up in Pumps is a sophisticated account of the production of genders and bodies and it tracks subversion and resistance not to symbolic acts but to material forms of survival and community. . . . This book, showing that gender is equal parts production, performance, biology, labor and fashion, makes truly original contributions to the twenty-first century study of gender and embodiment.”
    —Jack Halberstam, University of Southern California

     “At once revelatory and heartbreaking, Bailey’s ethnographic details leap off the page, putting the reader dead center inside the kaleidoscopic world that is ballroom. Beyond his wonderful storytelling, however, Bailey’s research is undergirded by the very ‘ethics of care’ practiced by the members of the ball houses he studies, as well as a nuanced theorizing that sacrifices none of the material implications of the political economy of racialized spaces—specifically the ballroom scene in Detroit.”
    —Dwight McBride, Northwestern University

    “To read Butch Queens Up in Pumps is to immerse oneself in the drama and splendor of Detroit’s Ballroom culture, a thriving Black and Latino performance commons. Marlon Bailey’s riveting accounts of live performance events like Ballroom competitions, his astute analysis of the performer's world off the runways and his invaluable insights on the complex, interlacing performances of race, class, gender and sex that mark the entire scene remind us of what the best performance ethnographies can teach us.” —José Muñoz, New York University