Langston Hughes wrote as much about religion as he did any other topic. His evasiveness about his own “personal” religion, however, has prevented forthright analyses of his religious writings, leading to the false conclusion that he was antireligious. Hughes was just as evasive about his sexuality even though he is widely considered to have been gay. I contend that Hughes's evasiveness about religion and sexuality was strategic and a style of life that eschewed the notion of fixed identities. Hughes's approach to religion was not static and his sexuality was most likely on a spectrum, making attempts to mark him religiously or in terms of a particular sexual identity difficult, if not impossible. What we learn from Hughes's example is that a lack of personal faith does not equate anti-religiosity and that one's sexuality can be a matter of personal construction. Contemporary notions of “the closet” and the performance of “coming out” most often police the personal construction of sexuality while it affirms normalcy and the religious and sexual status quo.

You do not currently have access to this content.