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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight African-American Literature: Gay Male
 
  The African-American Gay Male Tradition in literature consists of a substantial body of texts, spans a period of eight decades, and includes some of the most gifted writers of the twentieth century. It challenges black and white homophobia as well as straight and queer racism.  
 
 
  James Baldwin James Baldwin (1924-1987), a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.  
 
 
  Countee Cullen Countee Cullen (1903-1946) was heralded as the "poet laureate" of the Harlem Renaissance. Though closeted publicly, Cullen included coded references to homosexuality in much of his poetry.  
 
 
  Samuel Delany Samuel Delany (b. 1942) is a writer of science fiction, memoirs, erotica, cultural studies, and postmodern criticism. Delaney has won multiple Nebula, Hugo, and Lambda Literary Awards, and is regarded as one of the finest science fiction writers of his generation.  
 
 
  Melvin Dixon (1950-1992) was a poet and novelist who refused to stand apart from the experience of being African-American because of his homosexuality. Instead, he embraced his community and demanded that his community embrace him in return.  
 
 
  Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, is often hailed as a foundational step in the African-American cultural tradition. It included several important gay, lesbian, and bisexual writers.  
 
 
  E. Lynn Harris (1955-2009) wrote page-turning novels that appeal to a broad and diverse audience. His work exposes homosexuality and bisexuality in the black middle class in a romantic, upbeat way.  
 
 
  Essex Hemphill Essex Hemphill (1957-1995) became arguably the most critically acclaimed and best-known openly gay contemporary African-American poet despite his relatively brief literary career.  
 
 
  Langston Hughes Langston Hughes (1902-1967) left behind an enormous and varied literary legacy. Though he was closeted, homosexuality was such an important influence on his literary imagination that many of his poems may be read as gay texts.  
 
 
  Randall Kenan (b. 1963) delineates the richly nuanced internal landscapes of the diverse inhabitants of his fictional community, Tims Creek, N. C.  
 
 
  Alain Locke Alain Locke (1885-1954) played a crucial role in the development of African-American literature as mentor to Harlem Renaissance writers and as editor of the influential anthology The New Negro (1925). His homosexuality informed his plea for respect of sexual and cultural diversity.  
 
 
  Claude McKay Claude McKay (1889-1948) was a Jamaican-born bisexual African-American poet, novelist, and essayist who put forward an influential revolutionary agenda of racial, class, and sexual liberation.  
 
 
  Assotto Saint (1957-1994), a Haitian-born American poet, increased the visibility of black queer authors and themes during the 1980s and early 1990s through his contributions to literary and popular culture as a performance artist, musician, and editor and publisher.  
 
 
 

 
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