It has come to my attention that an article on the Whitney Museum's "Black Male" exhibition in your October/November 1994 issue (Arts Scene) neglected to mention the film and video series on representations of black gay men that I curated for the show. This oversight would not have drawn my attention had you not mentioned the contributions of all four of the other quest film and video curators. Given the extremely significant role that representations of black gay men have played in the definitions of normative black masculinity in the United Sttes, I think it is appropriate (and admirable) that the Whitney should have commissioned a series exploring the topic. It is equally important that media coverage of the exhibition follow the museum's lead and note the inclusion of this topic in the show. Not to do so would be merely to repeat one of the gestures that my series is meant to expose and interrogate--namely, the marginalization of black gay men's experience so as to produce an image of "proper" black masculinity that is conceived in opposition to that experience.

Phillip Brian Harper Assistant Professor of English and of Afro-American Studies Harvard University Cambridge, MA

I have been a subscriber to American Visions for over five years. I've always looked upon your magazine as the only true progressive, artistic magazine for African Americans. It is with deep regret that I may have to "unsubscribe" due to your ignorance and unfair practices toward African-American gays.

Cathy Austin San Francisco, CA

Some weeks ago I was delighted to receive American Visions. I love the splendidly colored cover and validation I can receive as a woman of this hemisphere. It profoundly disturbed me to read on the Internet from two networks of the glaring omission of Phillip Brian Harper's name in your coverage on the Whitney's current exhibition. My response as a conscious lesbian and African American born in the Caribbean is to ask that my subscription be immediately canceled. And it was just yesterday, as friends were gathered around my dining table, that I was excidely showing them American Visions.

Karen Job Cleveland Heights, OH

The writer Essex Hemphill says: "The black homosexual is hard-pressed to gain audience among his heterosexual brothers; even if he is more talented, he is inhibited by his silence or his admissions. This is what the race has depended on in being able to erase homosexuality from our recorded history. The 'chosen' history. But these sacred constructions of silence are futile excersises in deniel. We will not go away with our issues of sexuality. We are coming home."

I sincerely hope that it is not the policy or goal of American Visions magazine to erase the contributions of black gay men from our history.

Chuck Tarver INTERNET: Dover, DE (sic the University of DE is in Newark, DE State U is in Dover)

Editors's note: Ouch! My first thought, after reading the many letters American Visions received in response to the column on the "Black Male Images" exhibit, was, How did this happen to us? The ommission of Phillip Harper's name was entirely inadvertent. It was simply an error.

Upon rereading the letters, I realized that though the magazine makes no effort to exclude any member of the African-American community, that may not be evident in our regular coverage, and I will work harder to ensure that the magazine is more inclusive.

[QRD main page] Last updated: 25 May 1995 by Chuck Tarver