HARLEM — The term “Harlem Renaissance,” which captured the social, cultural and artistic tidal wave that catapulted the area to international recognition in the 1930s was coined by Alain LeRoy Locke, a gay man who was not only a professor at Howard University but became the first African-American to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
Yet, the sexual orientation of the area’s cultural icons is often left out of the story — a fact that one historian is attempting to change with a collage in the window of a a flower boutique on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 122nd Street.
“Black people are happy to accept black heroes but they don’t want to acknowledge the reality that some of these people were gay,” said historian Michael Henry Adams, whose “Homo-Harlem” collage in the window Harlem Flo Boutique on 2276 Frederick Douglass Blvd. features photos of famous gay men and women who have lived in the neighborhood.
Among the other gay literati and performers whose photos adorn the window include poet Langston Hughes, writer Dorothy Baker, gay club owner Clinton Moore and current-day Harlem resident actor Neil Patrick Harris, according to Adams, who is working on a book called “Homo-Harlem” on Harlem’s gay history.