Homoeroticism In Langston Hughes

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Langston Hughes was a private, mysterious poet, whose sexuality became the focus of curiosity by his critics and readers before and after his 1967 passing. While there was limited scholarly works that accurately biographed his life, there was indeed a plethora of critical reviews and analyzations of his writing itself by various writers and poets (Summers 3). His work was different in that it mostly remained gender ambiguous and defied stereotypes about what it meant to be a man, a woman, straight, and gay. While Hughes never admitted nor denied being gay, his work, which included poetry, essays, and short stories, often referenced homoeroticism in subtle ways simply because “black identity was viewed as incompatible with homosexuality” (Summers …show more content…
Despite the various aspects of Hughes that different scholars choose to highlight in discussions of his life and his work, there is no denying that he was powerfully influential in empowering gay black men, along with their queer communities, especially during the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes was born in Joplin Missouri in 1903, however, spent the first 15 years of life in Lawrence, Kansas with his grandmother (Scott 1). His ancestors were slaves, owned by a plantation owner in Virginia, although once freed, became highly educated and influential in the civil rights movement. Hughe’s grandfather Charles Langston, the first schoolteacher and later principal for a black school in Ohio, was actively involved in the Underground Railroad, and later retired as a grocer (Scott 2). Mary Langston, Langston Hughe’s grandmother, was the first black female student at Preparatory Department of Oberlin College in Ohio, where she later graduated from. Hughe’s mother, Carrie, was their third born child in 1873, and also became a black activist and poet (Scott 3). She met James …show more content…
Not long after, while working a variety of odd, underpaying jobs, Hughes finally saved up enough money to move to Chicago to live with his mother. During his young adult life, he attended Columbia University in 1921 but graduated from Lincoln University in 1929. Some of his first collective works were The Weary Blues and Fine Clothes to the Jew, written in the last half of the 20s and discussed confliction between social and internal ideas, morals, and relationships (Vogul 400). It was during this time period where he expressed desire to escape these governing spaces and he ultimately “inscribes a queer time consciousness” (Vogul 400). While Hughes later traveled to Africa and Europe working odd jobs and also selling many of his works to magazines, one of his most notable works were recognized in the 1940s when he wrote his first autobiography The Big Sea. Here he discusses his internal and external struggles he endures while “passing” as a white man in Africa, after enduring racism because of his skin color for so long in the states (Bennett 673). He later wrote “Who’s Passing for Who” which also discusses the politics of passing because “because he was fascinated with identity as something unstable and ‘“queer,’” where his works gradually began to fall outside social norm barriers, as

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