Countee Cullen was an American poet, novelist, children's writer, and playwright. He was closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

In the early 1920s, while at NYU, Cullen started entering and doing well in national poetry competitions and publishing in periodicals. 

Cullen entered Harvard in 1925 to pursue a masters in English, about the same time his first collection of poems, Color, was published. The work celebrated black beauty and deplored the effects of racism. The book included "Heritage" and "Incident," probably his most famous poems. Cullen's Color was a landmark of the Harlem Renaissance. 

Cullen worked as assistant editor for Opportunity magazine, where his column, "The Dark Tower," increased his literary reputation. Cullen's poetry collections The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927) and Copper Sun (1927) explored similar themes as Color, but they were not so well received. Cullen's Guggenheim Fellowship of 1928 enabled him to study and write abroad.[1]

Between the years 1928 and 1934, Cullen traveled back and forth between France and the United States. By 1929, Cullen had published four volumes of poetry. The title poem of The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929) was criticized for the use of Christian religious imagery; Cullen compared the lynching of a black man to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Although some of his poetry clearly discussed race and racism, he argued for color-blind poetry and encouraged African-American writers to embrace traditional English poetic structures.[2]

He went on to write a novel, two children's books, and write for the theatre. 

American writer Alain Locke helped Cullen come to terms with his sexuality. Locke wanted to introduce a new generation of African-American writers, such as Countee Cullen, to the reading public. Locke also sought to present the authentic natures of sex and sexuality through writing, creating a kind of relationship with those who felt the same. Locke introduced Cullen to gay-affirming material at a time when most queer people were in the closet. 

In 1928, Cullen married Yolande du Bois, the daughter of W.E.B. du Bois. The wedding was an enormous social event, with 3,000 people attending the ceremony. However, the marriage was short-lived. 

A few months after their wedding, Cullen wrote a letter to Yolande confessing his love for men. Yolande told her father and filed for divorce. Her father wrote separately to Cullen, saying that he thought Yolande's lack of sexual experience was the reason the marriage did not work out.[3] 

He subsequently had relationships with a few different men. Cullen married Ida Mae Robertson in 1940 while he was possibly in a relationship with Edward Atkinson. His second marriage seemed to be happy a one, and they remained married until his death.