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literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
McKay, Claude (1889-1948)  
 
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To Holcomb, McKay represented "the prototype for the unholy union of Red, black and queer." His agenda for liberation was based not only on race and class, but also included sexual dissidence. From this perspective, Home to Harlem is significant not merely for the presence of an openly gay character whose sexuality is accepted without problems by the two protagonists Jake and Ray. The novel goes beyond this portrayal to put forward a blueprint for a queer working-class black bohemia as a social model through the relationship of Jake and Ray.

This model sharply contrasts with the characters' heterosexual middle-class aspirations. Faced with Jake's choice of settling down in a heterosexual relationship, Ray leaves Harlem (and his aspiring middle-class fiancée Agatha) for Europe. Banjo follows Ray to Europe where he encounters another soul-mate, the title character. Indeed, James Smethurst describes Banjo as "a gay screwball comedy . . . in which lovers meet, are attracted, are split up . . . and are ultimately reunited." Their friendship represents a "utopian marriage of the proletariat and the radical black intelligentsia."

Sponsor Message.

After a long period of neglect, McKay's signal importance for African-American literature is now fully established. What needs more emphasis is the crucial role played by his homosexuality in his life and work.

Luca Prono

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    Bibliography
   

Cooper, Wayne F. Claude McKay: Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

Holcomb, Gary. Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.

Smethurst, James. The African American Roots of Modernism: From Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Prono, Luca  
    Entry Title: McKay, Claude  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated August 8, 2011  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/mckay_claude.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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