Although gay, lesbian, and queer theory are related practices, the three terms delineate separate emphases marked by different assumptions about the relationship between gender and sexuality.
The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, included several important gay and lesbian writers.
Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.
Langston Hughes, whose literary legacy is enormous and varied, was closeted, but homosexuality was an important influence on his literary imagination, and many of his poems may be read as gay texts.
Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.
Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.
Feminist literary theory is a complex, dynamic area of study that draws from a wide range of critical theories.
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
In a remarkable example of grassroots political action, an irate North Carolina lesbian confronted her state representative who sponsored Amendment One, which would write into the state constitution a ban on any recognition of couples other than the marriage of one man and one woman. After listening to her heartfelt and eloquent denunciation of the Amendment, Representative Jim Crawford announced that he planned to vote against the discriminatory amendment.
The lesbian constituent has not been identified, but at a candidates forum at which Crawford appeared, she lashed into Amendment One and into Crawford for sponsoring it.
After pointing out that the pledge of allegiance promises liberty and justice for all, she explains how Amendment One would affect her and her partner. Then adds, "(T)hat hateful piece of discriminatory legislation that would be put in our constitution of this state was introduced by Jim Crawford and I'll never forgive you for that, because you slapped me and every gay person in this state when you did that."
In response to the passionate statement by the woman who described herself as both a lesbian and "a damn good citizen of this county," Crawford, who was one of ten House Democrats who voted to put the measure on the ballot, said that it goes too far and that he will vote against it.
North Carolinian Pam Spaulding commented in her blog Pam's House Blend, "It clearly didn't "go too far" before that forum. What it goes to show is that even the people who wanted this on the ballot now, seeing the tide turning with conservatives and people of faith rallying against Amendment One, are running away from their decision to put civil rights of a minority on the ballot. And they are running for cover and in Crawford's case, so desperate they are lying about their original commitment."
The video below captures the constituent's remarkable speech. I hope it goes viral.