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‘In the Life’ paved way for generation of black gay men

I first learned that I had the power to become, to define myself beyond the circumstance of my birth, through the cultural pride my parents instilled in me and my brother. Our home was enriched with artifacts of black genius. There were books and albums of art titans such as Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, the Temptations, Coltrane and Labelle. There was the framed “Free Angela Davis” portrait posted so high her regal afro nearly touched our living room ceiling.

Through the acknowledgment of record, this little black boy was shown his past and thus felt assured a place in the world. “When I speak of home, I mean not only the familial constellation from which I grew, but the entire black community: the black press, the black church, black academicians, the black literati, and the black left.”

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Research library expands black gay history archives with Duncan Teague papers

Duncan Teague

Over the years, Duncan Teague has kept journals, notes, photographs, programs, poetry and other writings in boxes stored in his garage, snapshots of his life growing up as a black gay activist.

"I was going to go back and read them," he said about keeping the boxes of papers.

But he knew the documents, whether notes from a gay activist group he belonged to or a program from ADODI Muse: A Gay Negro Ensemble, a poetry collective he helped found, were important to recording the experiences of black gay people. He also kept the poetry, journals and other writings of noted black gay poet Tony Daniels, who died in 1998.

"I knew they were important and as I traveled in gay activism and AIDS activism, I knew one thing was not happening, and that was the accounts of black gay life," he said.