Despite having now worked in the gay press for nearly five years, I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of pioneering activist Arthur Evans, who died Sunday at 68. Evans was involved in the Gay Liberation Front, the group that formed following the Stonewall Rebellion, and he later co-founded another group, the Gay Activists Alliance, because he didn’t feel the Gay Liberation Front was aggressive enough. Wow, has this story not repeated itself over and over throughout the LGBT equality movement? Anyway, what I found most interesting about Evans is the story of his life before becoming a gay activist. After attending Brown and Columbia, he dropped out of school and moved to Washington state, where he and a companion started a group called the Weird Sisters Partnership, homesteading a small piece of land and living in a tent. Then Evans moved to San Francisco and opened a Volkswagen repair business called the Buggery before finally heading back to New York. Evans didn’t come out to his parents until 1970 at age 28, and you’ll never guess how. From The New York Times:
Growing up, Mr. Evans had hid his sexual orientation, though he himself was aware of it at 10, he said. By November 1970, when he was scheduled to appear on “The Dick Cavett Show” with other gay leaders, he had still not told his parents that he was gay. But, by his account, he did tell them he was going to be on national television. Thrilled, they told friends and neighbors to tune in.
Mr. Evans later said he regretted his handling of the matter.