Richard Bruce Nugent
aka Richard Bruce
and Bruce Nugent
, was a writer and painter in the Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...
He was born in Washington, DC to a middle-class African American family. He was the oldest child of Richard H. Nugent, Jr., a train porter, by his wife, Pauline. Spending a large part of his life in New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
, he died in Hoboken
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...
, New Jersey.
In 1926, he published Smoke, Lilies, and Jade
, a short story regarded by many scholars as the first publication by an African American to depict homosexuality openly. The story, on which he collaborated with other authors, appeared in the only issue of the art magazine Fire!!
Fire!! was an African American literary magazine published in 1926 during the Harlem Renaissance. The publication was started by Wallace Thurman, Zora Neale Hurston, Aaron Douglas, John P...
. From 1926 to 1928 he lived with the writer Wallace Thurman at 267 W 136th Street in Harlem, New York. The apartment complex in which they stayed was known as "Niggeratti Manor," and the walls were decorated by Nugent with murals representing homoerotic scenes.
Many of his illustrations were featured in publications, such as Fire!!
. Also, four of his works were included in the Harmon Foundation
The Harmon Foundation was established in 1922 by William E. Harmon. It served as a large scale patron of African American art and helped gain recognition for African American artists who otherwise would have remained largely unknown. Mary B. Brady was the director of the foundation from 1922 until...
’s exhibition of Negro artist, which was one of the few venues available for black artists to show their work in 1931. His only stand-alone publication, Beyond Where the Stars Stood Still
, was issued in a limited edition by Warren Marr II in 1945. He later married Marr's sister, Grace on December 5, 1952. This marriage however was never consummated since he was openly gay, but she insisted they marry with the notion that she could change him. It was not seen as a ploy to hide his homosexuality, but rather they were just very close.
He attended the Community Planning Conference at Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...
in 1964 as an invited speaker. The conference was held under the auspices of the Borough President of Manhattan/Community Planning Board 10 and Columbia. The idea of forming an organization to promote the arts in Harlem emerged from the conference’s Cultural Planning workshop and led to the formation of the Harlem Cultural Council. Nugent took an active role in this effort and attended numerous subsequent meetings. Nugent was elected co-chair (a position equivalent to vice president) of this council. He also served as chair of the Program Committee until March, 1967.
He is a principal character in the 2004 film Brother to Brother
. In 2002 Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...
Press released Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent
which included examples of his writing and artwork.
He was a contemporary of Langston Hughes
James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance...
, Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas was an African American painter and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance.-Early life:...
, Wallace Thurman
Wallace Henry Thurman was an American novelist during the Harlem Renaissance. He is best known for his novel The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life, which explores discrimination among black people based on skin color.-Early life:...
and Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance...