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.
In a New York Times story that is also a contribution to transgender autobiography, pianist Sara Buechner explains not only why she felt impelled to transition from male to female but also why she became a Canadian.
Sara Buechner is a concert pianist who teaches at the University of British Columbia and performs internationally. She was born David Buechner in 1959, educated at Julliard, and received a doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music. As David, she won a number of prizes at international piano competitions, including the 1983 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, the 1984 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition.
As David, she early mastered a large and unusually varied repertoire, including especially Gershwin, Bach, Joaquin Turina, and film composers, and performed with the world's greatest orchestras.
However, as she explains in her compelling essay in the Times, her success as an internationally known concert pianist was shadowed by the fact that "from the time I was a child, I understood that I was meant to be Sara."
As a teenager in 1975, she read of how Richard Raskind--formerly the Yale men's tennis captain and a lieutenant commander in the Navy--had surgery to become Renée Richards. "For the first time, I understood that I was not alone. But I said nothing; in those days I would have been taken to a psychiatric ward to be straightened out."
In 1998, however, she made the transition to Sara.
She underwent surgery, first in Thailand, where her surgeon was a butcher, and then in New York. After examining what had been done to her in Thailand, the New York surgeon told her that he would like to do corrective surgery. "I like a good challenge," he cheerfully assured Buechner, who adds laconically, "It was not the first time that I experienced the sensation that we transgendered were experimental fodder."
One consequence of her transition was that her career floundered. When word got out that she had become Sara, her bookings with prestigious orchestras dried up and no American university would hire her.
In 2003, however, she received an offer from the University of British Columbia and decided to move to Canada.>
As Buechner writes, "In the 1960s, war protesters moved to Canada to live openly. I did the same in 2003."
In Canada not only was she able receive excellent medical care at a superb clinic, but she was also able to marry her long-time partner, a Japanese woman. In addition, her career also flourished.
"In 2003 I hadn't played as a soloist with an American orchestra in nearly five years," Buechner writes, "But when I crossed the border to Canada, I found plenty of orchestras and recital presenters who were happy to book me. The success of my performing career in Canada has helped me rebuild a reputation back home."
She adds, "I've played twice now with the San Francisco Symphony, and also with the orchestras of Buffalo, Dayton, Seattle and others. I am confident I will once again play with the elite groups in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York, earning the same good reviews that David Buechner once did. A new generation of conductors, composers, chamber players and music executives has come of age, and they don't ignore my agent's calls as their older colleagues once did."
Buechner's essay needs to be read in its entirety. In addition, the Times also presents several audio files of Buechner in performance.
In the video below, from 2009, made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Buechner's debut on the concert stage, Sara Buechner reflects on her life.