Literary Nonfiction. African American Studies. LGBT Studies. BROTHER TO BROTHER, begun by Joseph Beam and completed by Essex Hemphill after Beam's death in 1988, is a collection of now-classic literary work by black gay male writers. Originally published in 1991 and out of print for several years, BROTHER TO BROTHER "is a community of voices," Hemphill writes. "[It] tells a story that laughs and cries and sings and celebrates...it's a conversation intimate friends share for hours. These are truly words mined syllable by syllable from the harts of black gay men. You're invited to listen in because you're family, and these aren't secrets-not to us, so why should they be secrets to you? Just listen. Your brother is speaking." This new edition includes an introduction by Jafari Allen.
- Publisher's Weekly
Believing that the ``gay community . . . operates from a one-eyed, one gender, one colorstet without hyphens. sg perception of community ,'' Beam and Hemphill have compiled a volume of writings that addresspk the emerging black gay sensibility in all of its glory, pain and promise. The strength of the book's politics, however,pk is undermined by offerings of dubious literary merit.pk Generally, the short fiction is only adequately written, depicting young closeted men afraid to come out to their abusive parents and peers. One exception is John Keene Jr.'s ``Adelphus King,'' a sweet tale about a man who falls head over heels for his cousin's boyfriend, a charismatic jazz musician. The poems in the collection speak routinely about sex and love; the most touching deal with the loss of loved ones to AIDS. By far, the most satisfying writing is Ron Simmons's incisive ``Some thoughts on challenges facing black gay intellectuals,'' which exposes the homophobic views of many black writers and calls for the development of ``an affirming and liberating philosophical understanding of homosexuality that will self-actualize black gay genius.'' Hemphill is a poet; Beam, who edited In the Life , died in 1988. June