Scholar, novelist, and poet Melvin Dixon was born in Stamford, Connecticut. He earned a BA from Wesleyan University and an MA and a PhD from Brown University. Dixon wrote the poetry collections Change of Territory (1983) and Love’s Instruments (1995, published posthumously) and two novels, Trouble the Water (1989), winner of a Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction, and Vanishing Rooms (1991). Influenced by James Baldwin, Dixon wrote extensively about the complexities of being a gay black man. Speaking on this topic at a speech to the Third National Lesbian and Gay Writers Conference, Dixon said, “As white gays deny multiculturalism among gays, so too do black communities deny multisexualism among their members. Against this double cremation, we must leave the legacy of our writing and our perspectives on gay and straight experiences.”
Dixon produced scholarship on and translated writing by several African American writers, including Leopold Sedar Senghor, Geneviève Fabre, and Jacques Roumain. Dixon was the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and he taught at Wesleyan University, the City University of New York, Fordham University, Columbia University, and Williams College. He died from complications related to AIDS at age 42.