Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in the LGBT Community

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Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) (Wikimedia Commons)

Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was one of the formative artists of the Harlem Renaissance and helped to define the movement alongside a coterie of other prominent black gay writers like Alain Locke, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman. Eschewing their discretion, however, Nugent openly embraced his sexuality in both his life and writing. In 1926, he published in Fire!! his signature short story, "Smoke, Lilies, and Jade," which openly broached homosexual and interracial desire. This short story remains a central work in the black gay literary tradition, and has inspired works like Isaac Julien's 1989 film Looking for Langston and Carl Hancock Rux's eponymous play produced in 2008. Nugent's life also provided the inspiration for the 2004 feature film, Brother-to-Brother, underscoring Nugent's significance for following generations of black gay artists.

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