The Whispers of Black People: Langston Hughes’ Struggles with Gay Pride

From the movie “Looking for Langston”, 1989 The man on the right is Ben Ellison as Langston Hughes.  The man on the right is his boyfriend Mathew Baidoo.

From the movie “Looking for Langston”, 1989
The man on the right is Ben Ellison as Langston Hughes. The man on the right is his boyfriend Mathew Baidoo.

Is freedom merely enough?  That was a wonder for most of the black people in the United States in 19th and 20th centuries.  Harlem had become the destination for most African Americans in the early 1900s.  They were looking to find a way to achieve equality and civil rights. With a stronger black community, Harlem Renaissance had started its movement in 1910 to fight for their Americans’ rights.  Uniquely, the inspiration of this movement is based on the play, Three plays for a negro theater”, the essay for Claude McKay, “If We Must Die” , poems of Langston Hughes and other great artists who came from across the country to ask for a recognition of their works. James Mercer Langston Hughes was a very creative poet, novelist, essayist and social activist. He moved to the forefront of the Harlem Renaissance by confronting racial stereotypes and social injustice, and had become known as “the voice of black people”. During his studies at Columbia University, he was the first to take the approach to combine Jazz and poems into creating a new category called Jazz poetry. British film maker Isaac Julien was able to produce a very good movie as a memorial for Langston Hughes called “Looking for Langston”.  Both of those men in the image look tired from the discrimination of their sexuality desire as well as their race.  Historically, gays would be so sensitive about their homosexual desire and blacks about their race.  However, Langston wanted to change this fact; he stood up and defended black gays through writing.  Then, Langston had become an icon for black guys throughout the Harlem Renaissance.  Still, Hughes is standing strong and willing to accept any struggle in order to have a better life.

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  1. Sarah M

     /  November 17, 2014

    Henry Louis Gates once said that the Harlem Renaissance was “…surely as gay as it was Black, not that it was exclusively either of these.” I think there’s growing acknowledgement of the diverse sexuality within the movement. I haven’t read it, but recently heard of Gay Voices of the Harlem Renaissance by A. B. Christa-Schwarz.


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