One of the most important new voices on the gay literary scene, Hemphill has published poetry in several anthologies and essays in the gay press, most of which have been collected in his three books. The merits of his work have been rewarded with several fellowships, including one from the National Endowment for the Arts. Hemphill has also been involved in the production of three gay African American films: Looking for Langston, which is about Langston Hughes; Tongues Untied, a celebration of African American gay identity; and Out of the Shadows, an AIDS documentary. Hemphill says that his work has been informed by his efforts to "integrate all of my identities into a functioning self" and to "articulate and politicize my sexuality" (Ceremonies 53). As he makes clear, it is not easy to accomplish this in a racist and homophobic society. He deplores the racism that he finds in the gay community, in particular the sexual objectification of black men by white men, which he argues characterizes the art of the celebrated photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. He is equally critical of the sexism and homophobia of the African American community, which he believes informs the rhetoric of the key movement, Black Nationalism. But Hemphill also celebrates his sexual and racial identities, affirming his participation in both the gay and black communities even as he critiques them and American society at large, whose prejudices they sometimes share.