African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Queer and Homoerotic Poetry

Here we are collecting writings by Black writers that explicitly thematize same sex desire, queer desire, or LGBTQIA identities.

Writers like Countee Cullen, Richard Bruce Nugent, and Alain Locke have been described by biographers as gay; several of their peers might today be understood as queer or bisexual (i.e., Langston Hughes and Claude McKay). The writer Angelina Weld Grimke is thought to have had a relationship with a woman as a teenager; not much is known about her personal life as an adult.  Other writers who are thought to have had queer relationships at various points in their lives are Alice Dunbar-Nelson and Mae V. Cowdery

By and large, we have thus far been largely only tagging poems where there is a clear queer or homoerotic element in the text itself; we have not, generally, been tagging all poems by Countee Cullen or Angelina W. Grimke as "queer." Over the summer of 2024, we will continue to review this and perhaps expand the range of poems that fall under this tag.

There is an excellent overview of "The Harlem Renaissance in Black Queer History" here

--Amardeep Singh, May 2024

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