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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Allied Resource Office University of Illinois Springfield

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes Picture(1902 – 1967) Poet

Langston Hughes is the author of African American-themed poetry, short stories, and the novel “Not Without Laughter”. Langston remained pretty private about his personal life, but it has been agreed by many academics and biographers that Hughes was homosexual and included gay codes into many of his poems, as did Walt Whitman, whose work Hughes cited as an influence, most directly in the short story “Blessed Assurance.”

Arnold Rampersad, Hughes’ principal biographer, wrote: “Hughes found some young men, especially dark-skinned men, appealing and sexually fascinating. (Both in his various artistic representations, in fiction especially…) Virile young men of very dark complexion fascinated him.”

While in his early sixties, Hughes seemed to fall in love with singer Gilbert Price (1942-1991). Unpublished love poems by Hughes were addressed to a man he called “Beauty.” Hughes’ traveling companion in the Caribbean, Zell Ingram, was gay but Hughes disguised him as a heterosexual in his first autobiography. Hughes’ poem “To F.S.” is thought to be about Ferdinand Smith (1893-1961), a sailor from Jamaica whom he met in the 1920s and kept in touch with for over thirty years.

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