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.
The firing of anti-gay sports commentator Craig James after a single appearance on Fox Sports Southwest offers yet another teachable moment for bigots. Just as the homophobic comments of former Anglican Bishop James Tengatenga came back to haunt him when his offer of a prestigious position at Dartmouth College was rescinded in August, so James's career has also been derailed by the homophobic comments he made in a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012. The moral is that while homophobic attitudes may win favor in some precincts, they may also prove a liability in others.
As we noted here, on August 15, 2013, Dartmouth College's new president Philip J. Hanlon rescinded the appointment of the former Anglican Bishop of Southern Malawi, James Tengatenga, as dean of the William Jewell Tucker Foundation, a campus institution that focuses on furthering the moral, spiritual, and social justice work of the school. The appointment of Tengatenga, who is also chair of the Worldwide Anglican Communion's Anglican Consultative Council, became controversial when his history of homophobic statements and actions came to light.
Similarly, a job offer to Craig James, a former professional football player and sports commentator for ABC and ESPN television networks, was summarily rescinded by Fox Sports in light of the homophobic comments he made during his ill-fated campaign for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate from Texas in 2012.
James had been tendered a tentative offer by Fox Sports Southwest, a regional network of Fox Sports, to co-host a college football show. However, after a single appearance on the show, James was abruptly fired. Apparently, the national company had not approved the hire and was displeased with it.
As Barry Horn reports in the Dallas Morning News, a Fox Sports spokesman said, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's [anti-gay] statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."
In a blog at Box Turtle Bulletin, Timothy Kincaid rehearses some of the anti-gay comments made by James during the campaign in which he attacked the former mayor of Dallas for having attended a gay pride parade and attempted to stake out a position to the right of even Ted Cruz, the eventual winner. He described homosexuality as a choice for which gay people would have to answer to God and he loudly proclaimed his opposition to any recognition of same-sex couples.
After the campaign, which apparently left him awash in debt, James attempted to return to his job at ESPN. However, that network refused to re-hire him.
Bishop Tengatenga and Craig James will no doubt be touted as victims of militant homosexuals and claim that they are being persecuted for their religious and political views. They will (falsely) claim that their first amendment right to free speech is being violated.
But the real lesson here is that free speech is not free of consequences.
Attacking gay people may well be a smart career strategy for an Anglican Bishop in Africa or a politician in Texas, but the record of homophobia is difficult to erase and may in the long run destroy rather than enhance career aspirations.
James's anti-gay comments during his campaign for the U.S. Senate was perhaps predictable since a prominent feature of the campaign was his endorsement of Rick Santorum for President, as the clip below documents.