Some friends wait years before they ask me, so I thought I would make it easy and just put the question and the answer online for anyone who possibly wants to know. Even so, it requires a good martini and more of a Suthun drawl than most yankee friends can even imagine, much less summon, I fear. So if you go any furthah, consider yourself duly warned!
That's the abbreviated form actually, a variant on "H. R. H. Quean Lutibelle of the Alabama Belles," and this year, in honor of that sweet retired bishop Walter Righter, whom they took to court and tried to drive out of the Church for ordaining a person for being plumbed like me, I have introduced yet another variant, "Quean Luti Malakoi Belle of the fair field Alabama Belles", but you'd have to know more theology than is healthy to unravel all the extra punch in that version. For help, you can visit my Scarlet Q pages, where you can find the heretic's cyber souvenir picture together with a mug shot of the bishop who told the whole of Christendom that I am malakoi. Dear oh dear, you can even find the pictures of all 10 bishops who whipped up the fuss about my friend.
I digress, I know. We queans do that a lot. Sorry.
Where did my name Lutibelle come from? Well, my mother, Lula, encouraged her friends to call her Lula Belle, so that people might not confuse her with Eula, her maid and my black surrogate mother. Of course the gimmick did not work, and both became "belles." When mother grew out of at least some of the racism we had all inherited, she came to love it when Yankee strangers asked, "'Eula Bell?'? Is that your sister?" "Yes," mother would reply, "and one of us is black."
Ossie Davis searched hard for the hoakiest name he could come up with for the ingenue in his 1960s play/musical "Pearly" and dubbed her "Lutibelle." Once I got to play Charlie Cotchipee in a production that went to every black campus in Georgia and South Carlina. Realizing that one day I would stop being a princess to become a quean, I knew just what name I wanted for my coronation. It was my friend David, at St. Paul's K street, himself a Kentuckian and wise to things Suthun, who added "of the Alabama Belles," little knowing the wondrous full truth of which he spoke. Faith of our muthas living still! How I hope! (See Louie Crew's life line.)
Many of my gay friends wish that I wouldn't talk gay around straight folks. I don't really, at least not much. But round other Christians I try to come just as I am.
The stereotype of queans is harsh--someone biting and bitter and catty. But most of the queans I've known in real life have been the ones who stay to care for aged parents, have been the ones buying books for nephews and nieces, and taking them off to museums, have been the family member with rich spirituality--spirituality that I fear I lose too often in the fierce glares of riding in the front of the bus.
Whenever I hear that marvelous hymn "I sing the song of the saints of God," like every gay male over 35 I skip a beat when it comes to "and one was a queen, and I want to be one too."
Of course most misspell my title, given its origins. Kwene, the old English word for 'young girl,' underwent what linguists call "specialization" (imagine getting paid a living wage for no more discovery than that polysyllable!). That is, kwene became two different words, quean and queen. They have both been in use for a very long time, and you can find them both in an unabridged dictionary. The editors of the dictionary worked under a hetero bias that did not tell you the full story, you'll be able to figure it out on your own with a good duracel in your thinking cap. I mean no one seriously contends that a true quean has any interest whatsoever in the kind of regnum that appeals to Elizabeth Windsor! I've even read in no less auspicious a place than The New York Times that even Lady Di Windsor gave up wanting to be that other kind of kwene. Di seemed like a sensible young Lady to me. What person with sound mind wants to have his picture jiggling in just every man's pocket? I mean, it makes sense to pick and choose!
Then there are the spiritual dimensions to H.R.H.Q.L., but my spiritual ancestors already named all those in their song "I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name, if he changed my name....."
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