Harlem Renaissance – a history of LGBT people of color

Betsy Writer’s Room Artists in Residence in Dancing with Zora and Langston: Exploring the LGBT Impact on the Harlem Renaissance

This month-long program at the Arts at St. John’s explores the impact of LGBT people of color within the Harlem Renaissance, which was a cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem between the end of World War I and the middle of the 1930’s. Many people do not realize that some of the black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars in this renaissance were gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Langston Hughes, a major writer of the period, was gay; Florida’s own Zora Neale Hurston was reputed to be bisexual.


Dancing Project Cover
David Mills as Langston Hughes


The ASJ program includes performances, talks, and a dynamic poster exhibit on loan from the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale. The Exhibit will be on display one hour prior to each event. Other major sponsors for this event include the GLBT Fund of the Miami Foundation and The Betsy Hotel on South Beach. All events are at Arts at St. John’s, 4760 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33140.


Comedian Sampson

On Saturday, June 18, 8pm, Comedy Night with Sampson, features Sampson, whose comedy offers riveting, refreshing and original takes on religion, sexuality, life and politics – all those things there you weren’t supposed to talk about in polite company. In 2013, Sampson made history as the first openly gay, black comedian to headline at the Howard Theatre. (Photo attached: Sampson2)

General Admission is $20, $15 for seniors and students, VIP Admission is $30 with a reception beginning at 7pm. Tickets may be purchased in advance at our website, or at the door.

On Sunday, June 19, 2pm Sampson speaks about “Growing Up Gay in Black America.” Being in a religious, black family from North Carolina, Sampson often quips, “Being gay is NOT a choice…I’m black, AND gay. You don’t make that $#!% up!” A comedian, writer and activist, Sampson carefully applies thought provoking humor and personal reflection to discuss intersections of race & sexuality in black America.

Admission is FREE to all.

Von Show
Jazz singer Von Henry



On Saturday, June 25, 7pm, Arts at St. John’s will be hosting “Before There Were Rainbows.” Jazz singer Von Henry returns as Ethel Waters, on a journey through Harlem in the 1920’s. The iconic Ethel Waters as narrator stands as the epitome of how the Harlem Renaissance raised the stature and pride of African Americans.

General Admission is $20, $15 for seniors and students, VIP Admission is $30, with a reception beginning at 6pm. Tickets may be purchased in advance at our website, or at the door. (Photo attached: Von Show)




About Arts at St. John’sArts at St. John’s has been providing unique and engaging arts and social events to the Miami arts scene for over 16 years. ASJ’s programming ranges from standard classical music to original musicals and world music, from scholarly talks to dance performances of all types. ASJ is a 501c-3 non-profit organization that holds up to 20 events per year. For more information, please visit our website and follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Arts at St John’s is supported in part by grants from: City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; and The Miami Foundation.