Essex Hemphill

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Essex Hemphill
Born (1957-04-16)April 16, 1957
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died November 4, 1995(1995-11-04) (aged 38)
Occupation poet, activist
Nationality American

Essex Hemphill (April 16, 1957 – November 4, 1995) was an American poet and activist. He was a 1993 Pew Fellowships in the Arts recipient.


Essex Hemphill was born April 16, 1957 in Chicago and died on November 4, 1995 of AIDS-related complications. He is known for his activism for equality and rights for gay men.

His poetry has been published widely in journals, and his essays have appeared in High Performance, Gay Community News, RFD Magazine, The Advocate, Pyramid Periodical, Essence, and others.

The poems and essays in Ceremonies address the sexual objectification of black men in white culture, relationships among gay black men and non-gay black men, HIV/AIDS in the black community and the meaning of family.


  • (essay in) Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories, Patrick Merla (ed.) Avon Books. 1996
  • (essays in) "Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS", Thomas Avena (ed.) Mercury House. 1994
  • Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry (1992)
  • Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men (1991) (ed.)
  • Conditions: Poems (1986)


  • Tongues Untied
  • In the Life, anthology
  • Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time, anthology
  • Art Against Apartheid, anthology
  • Men and Intimacy, anthology
  • New Men, anthology
  • New Minds, anthology
  • Natives, anthology
  • Tourists and Other Mysteries, anthology


  • documentary Looking for Langston
  • documentary Tongues Untied (1990)
  • Black Is...Black Ain't (1994)
  • as narrator Out of the Shadows, AIDS documentary


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