Gay Voices of the Harlem Renaissance
"Heretofore scholars have not been willing—perhaps, even been unable for many reasons both academic and personal—to identify much of the Harlem Renaissance work as same-sex oriented.... An important book." —Jim Elledge
This groundbreaking study explores the Harlem Renaissance as a literary phenomenon fundamentally shaped by same-sex-interested men. Christa Schwarz focuses on Countée Cullen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Bruce Nugent and explores these writers' sexually dissident or gay literary voices. The portrayals of men-loving men in these writers' works vary significantly. Schwarz locates in the poetry of Cullen, Hughes, and McKay the employment of contemporary gay code words, deriving from the Greek discourse of homosexuality and from Walt Whitman. By contrast, Nugent—the only "out" gay Harlem Renaissance artist—portrayed men-loving men without reference to racial concepts or Whitmanesque codes. Schwarz argues for contemporary readings attuned to the complex relation between race, gender, and sexual orientation in Harlem Renaissance writing.