chapter
African American Gay Culture
Pages 22

Although it is difficult to pinpoint something as untraceable as the emergence of a culture, there can be little argument that the beginnings of a recognizable tradition of African American gay men’s culture can be found in the explosion of black creativity that has come to be called the Harlem Renaissance. The number of major figures in this movement considered to have been either gay or bisexual is startling. They include most notably Countee Cullen, Alain Locke, Claude McKay, Wallace Thurman, Richard Bruce Nugent, and, arguably, Langston Hughes. Nugent’s short stories “Sadji” and “Smoke, Lilies, and Jade” are generally considered to be the premier texts in African American gay literature, and Wallace Thurman’s novel Infants of the Spring offers the first explicit representation of a gay black man in African American literature.