Richard Bruce Nugent, 1936Photo: Carl Van Vechten
Richard Bruce Nugent [1906 - 1987] — writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality — lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the precocious Nugent stood for thirty years as the only African American writer willing clearly to indicate his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, the prose composition “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire.
Wallace Henry Thurman, author, [1902 – 1934]
She appeared at Harry Hansberry’s “Clam House” on 133rd Street, one of New York City’s most notorious gay speakeasies in the 1920s, and headlined in the early thirties at Harlem’s Ubangi Club, where she was backed up by a chorus line of drag queens.
She dressed in men’s clothes [including a signature tuxedo and top hat], played piano, and sang her own raunchy lyrics to popular tunes of the day in a deep, growling voice while flirting outrageously with women in the audience.
Bentley was openly lesbian during her early career, but during the McCarthy Era, she started wearing dresses, married a man [who later denied that they ever married], and studied to be a minister, claiming to have been “cured” by taking female hormones.
(Source: Wikipedia, via attaboy-tomboy)
Blues singer Gladys Bentley, the multi-faceted Nora Holt and illustrator Prentiss Taylor photographed by Carl Van Vechten on February 27, 1932.
Gladys Bentley & Willie Bryant, outside the Apollo Theater, New York
17 April, 1936
the dapper Gladys Bentley
love drugs too!
May Day, St. Petersburg, 2013
Photo: AFP/Olga Maltseva