Black LGBT History Is Black History!

Discussion in 'Group Discussions' started by NickAuzenneNOLA, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. NickAuzenneNOLA

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    I think it's important that Black LGBT history is included in our conversation around black history. Intersectionality has long been overlooked within our communities and so here's a post that celebrates those cross-sections of race and sexuality.
    Share your favorite historical black LGBT folks!

    Here's My TOP 5:

    Langston Hughes

    
Langston Hughes's name is almost synonymous with the Harlem Renaissance. At a time when African-Americans across the country were struggling to find a foothold on par with the rest of society, Hughes and his contemporaries were flourishing in Harlem, writing, creating, and living lives that were expressive and revolutionary. He discovered the scene uptown while studying at Columbia University in New York, and eventually became one of the first black writers to support himself through writing with his accessible, relatable voice. He was known for stressing the message of "black is beautiful" and racial consciousness without anger, in a pre-Civil Rights world. It was well known that he was engaged in significant relationships both sexually and romantically with both men and women. Making him in today's language, bisexual.


    Audre Lorde

    Essayist and poet Audre Lorde not only wrote passionately, but she also gave the gift of words to others as a librarian in New York public schools during the 1960s. In her published work, Lorde eventually fully embraced her lesbianism, even with her marriage to attorney Edward Rollins from 1962-1970. Her first volume of poems was published in 1968 at Tougaloo College, where she met long-term partner Frances Clayton. Her 1976 work The Black Unicorn was a masterful summation of her life, so far, "as a black woman, a mother, a daughter, a lesbian, a feminist, a visionary," as contemporary Adrienne Rich said.

    Later in the literary journal Callaloo, Lorde responded to critics, specifically antigay North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms: "My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds... Jesse Helms's objection to my work is not about obscenity... or even about sex. It is about revolution and change... Helms knows that my writing is aimed at his destruction, and the destruction of every single thing he stands for." Lorde later chronicled her journey with cancer after she was diagnosed in The Cancer Journals. In her last year of life, 1991-1992, Lorde was the poet laureate of New York. She died in 1992 of breast cancer, but her legacy lives on in the Audre Lorde Project, an LGBT organization in New York focused on social and economic justice.


    Bayard Rustin

    Schools across America and around the world make sure to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., every year, but King's work could be incomplete without the help of close confidant and organizer, Bayard Rustin. He was the key strategist in many of King's actions, often making him the target of the federal government as he organized demonstrations, rallied activists, and lobbied politicians to help make life better for people of color. Even with such a high-profile position within the Civil Rights movement, during the 1950s and '60s, Rustin was openly gay, and evidence shows that he was embraced by King, whose message of acceptance continues to resonate decades after his active years.

    (He was also my Illustrious Bruh as he is/was a member of Omega Psi Phi, one of the first fraternities created for black men.
    RQQ!)


    James Baldwin

    At a time of segregation and discrimination, author James Baldwin was able to eloquently express the everyday life of African-Americans in the U.S. However, in order to do so, Baldwin, like Baker, fled the country for France to write more freely. Baldwin's semi-autobigraphical Go Tell It On The Mountain was a large success and remains a critical favorite, while his later work Geovanni's Room was controversial, as it was one of the first mainstream novels to tackle homosexuality. He died in 1987 in France and was buried in his birthplace, Harlem, N.Y

    Richmond Barthé

    Richmond “Jimmie” Barthé was a sculptor and a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s. That he was also a gay man who expressed his orientation in his work is most likely why he fell into obscurity by the 1940s. Much of his art depicted African-American men in sensual poses, often nude. Today, his work seems not that confrontational, but in a basically racist, sexually nervous America of the middle of the last century, it is remarkable that his work received the acclaim that it did. (He was also of Louisiana Creole descent, being half LA Creole that makes me personally proud. Louisiana Creoles are one of the first and most distinctive groups of people of color in this nation.)




    Check out more here!

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/prominent-black-lgbt-icons_n_4747530.html
     
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  2. BlackguyExecutive

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    I nominate the legendary film PARIS IS BURNING

     
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  3. NickAuzenneNOLA

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    They were definitely living history. No them no us, regardless of rather we appreciate them for their sacrifices or know had they not been in your face with who they are we wouldn't have the opportunity to be as authentic to ourselves as we are today. I've only seen bits of that film. Making it my mission to watch today.
     
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  4. alton

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    I love this documentary, both because it's entertaining to me as the whole ballroom sh!t was my first gay experience and I know a small few of the people in this film (the ones that are still alive), and because it is black/latino gay history, at least from an NYC perspective (like you alluded) whether or not some/most dudes relate to it or accept it.

    "Give the contestants, a round of applause for nerve. Cuz' wit you vicious b!tches it DO take nerve. We're not going to be shady just fieace"
     
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  5. cypher21

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    Here here I approve this thread as Black History member of the month lol! James Baldwin has always been a inspiration for me and Langston Hughes's poetry is amoung my favorites!
     
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  6. SB3

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    I nominate the late E. Lynn Harris. I remember discovering his books in high school, n literally sitting in Barnes n Noble reading them in their entirety. He def played a major part in my coming to terms w my sexuality. And its crazy becus I came to experience a lot of the things/situations he wrote about.
     
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  7. grownman

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    I co-sign this because he helped come to terms that I was gay. But in a fictional, romantic, black male perspective.
     
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  8. Discordant

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    Great topic. In honor of Mr. Hughes, here is my favorite poem from him:

    I Loved My Friend
    -- Langston Hughes

    I loved my friend.
    He went away from me.
    There's nothing more to say.
    The poem ends,
    Soft as it began,--
    I loved my friend.
     
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  9. Dante

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    @NickAuzenneNOLA You all edumacated and stuff...what you durrring lata on?

    Great thread. I'm not a history buff, but the info is appreciated!

    E. Lynn Harris was a great storyteller and Invisible Life is a masterpiece. He created a conversation that needed to be had and it was worth it.

    I dedicate BHM to any Black gay/bisexual man and woman who lived during the Jim Crow era. The struggles being Black was a mountain to climb itself. But to be gay or bisexual, too....JESUS CHRIST!
     
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  10. NickAuzenneNOLA

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    I mean what can I say? Xavier, UCLA, Booth and just life itself has taught me much in the way of edumacation. Ha!

    Wow! I don't believe I've ever considered that but you're right there are millions of names we will never know that silently paved the way during that time. Thanks for bringing that to the forefront.
     
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  11. African King

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    I remember when I came out to my twin and we began watching all this black gay film. I couldn't believe LGBT people made all this stuff up lol. I don't want to be a part of it but it was an interesting watch!
     
  12. African King

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    I pretty much know about Bayard Rustin and a woman named Barbara Jordan I think. S/O to them. Too bad it doesn't get attention in schools but maybe in the new ATL LGBT school they're making they will make it a point to teach LGBT history
     
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  13. NickAuzenneNOLA

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    E. Lynn Harris, James L. Hardy etc definitely played a role in any confused SGL youth that was looking to see a window into a community they knew they were a part of but were not sure if they would ever live it or fit into it. Many older guys that surpress who they are also find value in those novels. Art is freeing and transformative.
     
  14. Dreamwalker

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    I've always been curious about black LGBT history. This is mainly b/c most of the events of significance that were fortunate enough to be recorded weren't widely disseminated or only received brief footnotes....esp in small town libraries like the one I had. I had no idea who Barnard Rustin was until I went to college. Thanks to the Internet, I'm noticing a lot more information pop up online. It's funny how gay culture in the past parallels gay culture today:

    First Black Gay Mecca
    As Gay as It Was Black"

    The Harlem of the 1920s, which produced a flowering of art, music and writing, was indisputably gay. Being "in the life" was part of the landscape of the community. The 1983 essay "T'Aint Nobody's Bizness: Homosexuality in 1920's Harlem," by Eric Garber, puts it in sharp focus:

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, a homosexual subculture, uniquely Afro-American in substance, began to take shape in New York's Harlem. Throughout the so- called Harlem Renaissance period, roughly 1920 to 1935, black lesbians and gay men were meeting each other [on] street corners, socializing in cabarets and rent parties, and worshiping in church on Sundays, creating a language, a social structure, and a complex network of institutions.

    Private parties were the best place for Harlem lesbians and gay men to socialize, providing safety and privacy. "We used to go to parties every other night.... The girls all had the parties," remembered Mabel Hampton. Harlem parties were extremely varied; the most common kind was the "rent party." Like the blues, rent parties had been brought north in the Great Migration. Few of Harlem's new residents had much money, and sometimes rent was hard to come by. To raise funds, they sometimes threw enormous parties, inviting the public and charging admission. There would be dancing and jazz, and bootleg liquor for sale in the kitchen. It is about just such a party that Bessie Smith sang her famous "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer." On any given Saturday night there were scores of these parties throughout Harlem, often with those in attendance not knowing their hosts. The dancing and merriment would continue until dawn, and by morning the landlord could be paid. Lesbians and gay men were active participants in rent parties. The New York Age, one of Harlem's newspapers, complained in 1926:

    One of these rent parties a few weeks ago was the scene of a tragic crime in which one jealous woman cut the throat of another, because the two were rivals for the affections of a third woman. The whole situation was on a par with the recent Broadway play [about lesbianism, The Captive], imported from Paris, although the underworld tragedy took place in this locality. In the meantime, the combination of bad gin, jealous women, a carving knife, and a rent party is dangerous to the health of all concerned.

    Harlem Renaissance: Gay Authors
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/blues/garber.html

    First Gaylebrity (famous for wanting to be famous)?
    HAROLD JACKMAN, The Most Handsome Man In Harlem!
    If you scan the index of any reputable book on the Harlem Renaissance, you should find at least one listing for Harold Jackman. If the book is definitive or particularly resourceful, there will be several mentions throughout the whole text. Jackman did not write nor paint, and thus did not leave an ouevre. But let's not get it twisted, Harold Jackman was no minor player in the game!

    Ever the social butterfly, he was active in many organizations like the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Urban League and the Negro Actors Guild, where he served on the executive board.

    Some say he achieved "nobility by association" but let's straighten it out and say that his was definitely one of the brightest lights of that era. Because he did not have a famous novel, score or sculpture, Jackman is now relegated to the sidelines when one looks at the larger picture. Indeed, it is at the sidelines, in the index and buried in the footnotes that Harold Jackman can now be found. Yet, it is impossible to have an in-depth conversation about Countee Cullen, for instance, without mentioning Harold Jackman. And if he was never known for anything, at least he was once known as one of Harlem's most attractive men.

    In the 20's and 30's, Mr. Jackman was often described as an boulevardier, and as such he was a head turner. So much so, that many of the era's leading artists and photographers, including Winold Reiss, Richmond Barthe, Carl Van Vechten and James L. Allen (top) rushed to capture his handsome visage.

    Corey @ I'll Keep You Posted: HAROLD JACKMAN, The Most Handsome Man In Harlem!

    First DL Celebrity Scandal?
    The black American poet Countee Cullen (1903–46) was the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. His homosexuality is central to his work, although most African-American scholars ignore it or suppress it. His attitude to his homosexuality was as mixed as his attitude to his blackness: simultaneously affirmative and condemnatory, celebratory and troubled. He wrote poems for his lovers, and dedicated poems to his closest gay friends: Alain Locke, Harold Jackman, Carl Van Vechten, and Leland Pettit. Though closeted, he was well known in the gay underground. Cullen's early failures at sustaining a gay relationship perhaps caused him to turn to women, and he married Yolande DuBois, daughter of W. E. B. Du Bois, the leading black intellectual in 1928. Despite a lavish event -- she had 16 bridesmaids! -- the marriage was short-lived. Three months after the wedding, Cullen sailed to Paris with his best man, and bride and groom officially split up shortly when he told her he was gay; she acknowledged a "feeling of horror at the abnormality of it".
    Gay Love Letters through the Centuries: Countee Cullen
    Harlem Renaissance: Gay Authors

    Best explanation I could find for why all histories should be celebrated
    "The study of the past is essential for 'rooting' people in time. And why should thatmatter? The answer is that people who feel themselves to be rootless live rootless lives, often causing a lot of damage to themselves and others in the process. Indeed, at the most extreme end of the out-of-history spectrum, those individuals with the distressing experience of complete memory loss cannot manage on their own at all. In fact, all people have a full historical context. But some, generally for reasons that are no fault of their own, grow up with a weak or troubled sense of their own placing, whether within their families or within the wider world. They lack a sense of roots. For others, by contrast, the inherited legacy may even be too powerful and outright oppressive.

    In all cases, understanding History is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human. That allows people to build, and, as may well be necessary, also to change, upon a secure foundation. Neither of these options can be undertaken well without understanding the context and starting points. All living people live in the here-and-now but it took a long unfolding history to get everything to NOW. And that history is located in time-space, which holds this cosmos together, and which frames both the past and the present."
    Why History matters - Articles - Making History
     
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  15. ControlledXaos

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    Read about 3 E Lynn books HOPING that I could connect to any of the characters.

    Put me in the minority of black gay men who just did not like his work. All of his main characters just seemed like wimpy guys pining over someone they couldn't really fully have. I just could not relate or connect. If you enjoyed his work, great. But for me.... I'll pass.
     
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  16. Tyroc

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  17. Jaa

    Jaa
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    I only recently learned of poet amd activist Essex Hemphill after hearing someone reference his poem "American Wedding" which begins,

    In america,
    I place my ring
    on your cock
    where it belongs.

    I've read very little of his work but it sounds like he had some interesting things to say about the image, relationships and sexual objectification of black gay men before his life was cut short at age 38 in 1995.
     
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  18. NickAuzenneNOLA

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    Essex was a great poet and really dedicated his life to equal rights to LGBT people. Sad that as you said his life was cut short. Another tragedy of the epidemic. I couldn't imagine being an SGL person at that time in history.
     
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  19. BlackOnyx1

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    wow yo thanks for sharing this i never knew of these people till now that's wassup!
     
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  20. BlackOnyx1

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    you can't forget some of the blues and jazz legends such as Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter and Ma Rainey the baddest of the baddest when it came to singing back then. Yes Black LGBT history is apart of Black History no matter how homophobic N words try to suppress it cause they can't deal with it!
     
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  21. BlackOnyx1

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    i always find myself fascinated with how life was back then for SGL men
     
  22. BlackOnyx1

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    i always imagine what it was like back then for SGL men of that time
     
  23. BlackOnyx1

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    wow this is really dope i never knew about a lot of these people, but i also want to say you can't forget about some of the blues and jazz legends such as Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, and Ma Rainey some of the baddest of the baddest when it came to singing back then
     
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