Essex Hemphill

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Essex Hemphill
Essex Hemphill.jpg
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 received a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant in 1993.


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.[1]

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. In 1993, he was a visiting scholar at the Getty Center.[2]

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; Cleis Press, 2000, ISBN 9781573441018
  • (ed.) Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men 1991; RedBone Press, 2007, ISBN 9780978625115
  • Conditions: Poems, Be Bop Books, 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) [3]
  • Black Is...Black Ain't (1994)
  • as narrator Out of the Shadows, AIDS documentary


  1. ^ Nelson 2008.
  2. ^ Pew 2009.
  3. ^ Castro, Alex. "Tongues Untied". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved January 10, 2010. Tongues speaks through a range of black, gay, and black gay cultural forms. The video is a melange that mixes the music of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone with the poetry of Essex Hemphill and Joseph Beam 


External links[edit]