The African-American gay male literary tradition consists of a substantial body of texts and includes some of the most gifted writers of the twentieth century.
Most African-American lesbian literature is as concerned with racism as it is with sexuality, causing many writers to construct Afrocentric sexual identities that affirm the power of black women.
Although largely invisible to the general public, a large body of twentieth-century gay male literature by American authors was published prior to Stonewall, some of it positive but most of it tinged with misery or bleakness as the price of being published and disseminated.
After Stonewall, gay male literature became focused as a movement, aided by the development of gay newspapers, magazines, and quarterlies and the founding of serious gay and lesbian bookstores.
American lesbian literature prior to Stonewall exploited the "outlaw" status of the lesbian as it moved from encrypted strategies of expression to overt political celebrations of woman-for-woman passion.
Since Stonewall various political agendas have dominated American lesbian literature.
Most gay, lesbian, and bisexual American writers who adhered to Marxist-oriented parties and social movements between 1917 and the 1960s strove to hide their sexual orientation, and some even depicted homosexuals negatively in their fiction and drama.
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
Jamaican-born writer Michelle Cliff explores issues of race, class, and sexuality in her prose and poetry.
Writer of science fiction, memoirs, erotica, cultural studies, and postmodern criticism, and winner of multiple Nebula, Hugo, and Lambda Literary Awards, Samuel R. Delany is widely regarded as one of the finest science fiction writers of his generation.
Rather than standing apart from the experience of being African American because of his homosexuality, poet and novelist Melvin Dixon embraced his community and demanded that his community embrace him in return.
Lambda Award-winning author Larry Duplechan is best known for Blackbird (1987), a coming of age novel about a black teenager growing up in the bland outer suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1970s.
A noted African-American writer from the 1900s through the 1920s, Angelina Weld Grimké fell into obscurity in the 1930s and was only rediscovered in the 1980s; her inability to act on her sexual desires inspired her writing and contributed to her ultimately abandoning it.
As a part of her fight for social justice, playwright and political activist Lorraine Hansberry supported the emerging American lesbian liberation movement.
The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, included several important gay and lesbian writers.
In page-turning novels that appeal to a broad and diverse audience, E. Lynn Harris exposed the bisexuality and homosexuality within the black middle class.
Despite his relatively brief literary career, Essex Hemphill became arguably the most critically acclaimed and best known openly gay contemporary African-American poet.
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.
In both her poetry and her essays, June Jordan called for the rejection of stereotypical views of bisexuality, and she associated sexual independence with political commitment.
African-American writer Randall Kenan delineates the richly nuanced internal landscapes of the diverse inhabitants of his fictional community, Tims Creek, N. C.
Constrained by the social conventions of the time, the bisexual African-American novelist Nella Larsen was covert in her treatment of lesbianism.
As midwife to the Harlem Renaissance, Alain Locke played a crucial role in the development of African-American literature; his homosexuality informed his plea for respect of sexual and cultural diversity.
The work of African-American activist and writer Audre Lord was greatly influenced by her lesbianism.
Jamaican-born bisexual African-American poet, novelist, and essayist Claude McKay made compelling contributions to the development of the Harlem Renaissance; in his works, he put forward a revolutionary agenda of racial, class, and sexual liberation.
Through his contributions to literary and popular culture, Haitian-born American poet, performance artist, musician, and editor and publisher Assotto Saint increased the visibility of black queer authors and themes during the 1980s and early 1990s.