Legends of The Ball II: Bruce Nugent

Bohemian Richard Bruce Nugent stands as one of the most underappreciated but bold figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nugent was one of the few writers/ artist of the time to be blatantly and overtly queer in his work. His courage and daring can be seen in his works “Gentleman Jigger” (a novel which has recently surfaced) and his art work, which could be found all along the walls of Nigeratti Manor (a house in habited by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman and other prominent people of the time.) Nugent along with fellow Nigeratti published one issue of the magazine “Fire”. While only having one issue, “Fire”, with it’s overtly sexual/political/progressive stance, marks an important mark in Black history. “Fire”, when published was a direct affront to the dominant heteronormative, conservative ideology of the Black community at the time.

Nugent is also not without flaw, nor is he outside of the negative influence that this country can have on individuals, especially Black people. Nugent, while clearly African American and “proud”, often expressed feelings of loathing for his fellow Blacks. In one account Nugent recalls throwing up upon meeting Wallace Thurman, author of “The Blacker The Berry”. Nugent stated that the darkness of Thurman’s skin put him off and that it was difficult to believe that someone that dark was capable of such brilliance. In his life, Nugent is said to have only dated white men, preferably Italians. It is important that we always take a critical eye to the ways in which oppression can manifest. While preference is personal, it is also influenced by social thought.

In any case it is important to remember all that have come before us in our efforts to build up this new collective space. Nugent,while possessing thoughts that can be both admired and disdained is as important to our history as any other.

“Shadow”, Bruce Nugent.

On the face of the moon
Am I.
A dark shadow in the light.
A silhouette am I
On the face of the moon
Lacking color
Or vivid brightness
But defined all the clearer
I am dark,
Black on the face of the moon.
A shadow am I
Growing in the light,
Not understood as is the day,
But more easily seen
I am a shadow in the light.


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