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.
John Bercow's coat of arms.
The coat of arms, developed by the College of Arms, depicts Bercow's climb from humble beginnings as the son of a taxi driver to become one of the most senior commoners in the United Kingdom.
Bercow's upward mobility is represented by a ladder, while four rondels (or circular figures) signify his interest in tennis and curved notched blades of seaxes (scimitars) represent the University of Essex, which he attended.
The Speaker's commitment to equal rights is signified by the motto "All Are Equal," the individual words of which are framed by pink triangles. The ends of the scroll holding the motto are rolled under to reveal the colors of the rainbow flag.
Although the new coat of arms has attracted some indignant comment, more negative reaction has been visited upon the official portrait of the Speaker by Brendan Kelly, which depicts Bercow standing in front of the Speaker's chair issuing instructions to Members of Parliament. Most of the criticism has centered on the cost of the portrait rather than its quality.
In explaining the portrait, Kelly said: "I wanted to capture the day to day reality of a Speaker mid-action at work in the Chamber. This meant black robes and a House of Commons tie, the iconic Speaker's chair prominent in the composition, books and papers on the shelves and the Speaker himself, shown animated in the midst of conducting the daily business of the House of Commons."
Bercow has served in Parliament since 1997. He was a Conservative "frontbencher" being groomed for leadership until he defied his party in 2002 to support a Labour bill that allowed unmarried gay and heterosexual couples to adopt children.
He was elected Speaker of the House in 2009. He is the first Jewish Speaker of the House.
The Speaker presides over debates in the House, determining which members may speak. The Speaker is also responsible for maintaining order during debate, and may punish members who break the rules of the House.
Unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, including the United States, the Speaker of Britain's House of Commons is expected to remain strictly non-partisan. Upon assuming office, the Speaker renounces affiliation with his or her former political party.
The Speaker is one of the highest-ranking officials in the United Kingdom. By an Order in Council issued in 1919, the Speaker ranks in the order of precedence above all non-royal individuals except the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor, and the Lord President of the Council.
The official portrait and the coat of arms will hang in the Speaker's apartment in the Palace of Westminster, where Bercow resides with his wife Sally and their three children.
The incorporation of gay symbolism into the official coat of arms of a Speaker of the House of Commons is concrete evidence of the growing acceptance of gay rights in the United Kingdom.