Kuma (aka kuma2.net) is a website that encourages black lesbians to love and fully embrace their sexuality. Containing over 1600 pieces of erotica, the literature archive is the largest online collection of black lesbian writing. Kuma publishes poetry and short stories quarterly but the blog is updated several times a month with information about literary and other events. On average, Kuma receives 1172 unique visits and 17,832 hits per day.
Tawanna Sullivan is the webmaster. She shares editorial duties with Martina Downey.
The idea for Kuma came to Tawanna and Martina in the summer of 1998. Both of them had been looking for but failed to find black lesbian erotica on the World Wide Web. There were plenty of pornographic websites, but that’s not what they where looking for. In adult newsgroups, stories depicting lesbians were obviously written by and for men. Except for a black lesbian message board on America Online, there was no web space for black lesbians to write and share erotica. Though they had no experience with html or web design, they decided to build a website to showcase black lesbian erotica.
The first edition of Kuma (http://members.tripod.com/Versai) went online September 15, 1998. Contents consisted of a few poems and stories reprinted from the message board and the artistic work of anafrikanviolet. Tawanna and Martina invited women to share their work, but they expected only a few submissions to trickle in. They thought the site would be mostly static—like a signpost on the information superhighway. They were clearly wrong.
Within a year of its launch, Kuma became a monthly e-zine with its own domain (www.kuma2.net). Though it has attracted well seasoned writers such as Kathy Morris and B. Lois Wadas, the bedrock of Kuma has been new and “accidental” writers--women who were filling notebooks with poetry/prose without really intending to publish.
Kuma is about more than sex. For many black lesbians, especially those who are closeted or do not live near a major metropolitan area, the stories and poetry affirm that they are not alone or an unnatural aberration. One of our readers said it best:
It is so wonderful to know that there are others out there that share the same feelings and thoughts as myself, ‘cause sometimes I feel so alone in my thoughts. This is my year to actually start living my life the way I really want to and I know I will be so much happier now.
Over the years, Kuma has expanded beyond erotica. Visitors can do everything from play games to catching up on current news headlines. Responding to the needs of readers, the site grew to include sections dealing with spirituality, relationship issues, and domestic violence.
Recently, Tawanna and Martina renewed the domain registration and are looking forward to maintaining Kuma for many years to come.