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.
The writers of the Beat Generation, many of whom were gay or bisexual, endorsed gay rights as a part of their rebellion against inhibition and self-censorship.
The Comedy of Manners, which flourished on the Restoration stage, has been particularly amenable to twentieth-century gay male writers as a vehicle for social satire in both dramatic and nondramatic works.
Using his and his family's experiences, particularly his childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina, and his own wacky perspective on life, David Sedaris has become a world-famous humorist, comedian, writer, playwright, and radio personality.
From the great modernist writers of the 1920s and 1930s to the pulp writers of the 1950s to the lesbian writers of today, lesbian novelists have had a powerful impact on the lesbian community.
From its beginning, the nineteenth century in England had a purposeful homosexual literature of considerable bulk, both male and female, though it was fettered by oppression.
Persecuted for his homosexuality by the Castro government he had once championed, Cuban novelist, essayist, and poet Reinaldo Arenas challenged all types of ideological dogmatism.
Baudelaire was among the first French poets to include lesbians as subjects.
John Ashbery. Photograph by David Shankbone (CC BY 3.0).
In accepting the award, Ashbery spoke of the joys of writing poetry, which, he said, "gives me a pleasure I can almost taste." He added, "It is fun, though it isn't supposed to be. But somehow the difficulty is embedded in the pleasure."
Ashbery, who was born in 1929, is widely considered among the finest living American poets. Although he generally avoids explict gay content in his poems, his work is often marked by his experience as a gay man, especially in its ironic perspective, its evocation of camp, and its persistent exploration of the nature of identity.
Other winners of awards presented at the celebratory evening hosted by actor and author John Lithgow were Jesmyn Ward, who won the National Book Award for fiction for Salvage the Bones, and Steven Greenblatt, who won the National Book Award for nonfiction for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.
In addition, Nikky Finney won the award for poetry for Head Off & Split, while Thanhha Lai received the award for young people's literature for Inside Out and Back Again.
The category of young people's literature produced drama this year when Lauren Myracle was named to the original shortlist in that category for her book Shine, a novel about the experience of a gay teenager who is the victim of a hate crime.
Shortly afterward, however, the National Book Foundation announced that Myracle's book was included on the list by mistake. The Foundation said that it would stay on the shortlist anyway, but added a sixth book, Chime by Franny Billingsley, which had originally been intended to be a finalist.
Soon after that announcement, the Foundation reversed itself, asking Myracle to withdraw from consideration.
Myracle did so, but clearly felt that she had been treated unfairly. Although she agreed to withdraw, she requested that the National Book Foundation make a contribution to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which advocates for gay youth. Reportedly, the National Book Foundation will donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.