GAVIN ARTHUR, American writer, grandson of President Chester A. Arthur (d: 1972); Grandson and namesake of U.S. President Chester Alan Arthur, he was Alan Watts’ father-in-law. An adventurous soul, he worked his way around the world as a merchant seaman. He has been described as “an Ivy League dropout, an Irish Republican Army activist, an experimental-film actor, a commune leader, a gold prospector, a teacher at San Quentin, and a bisexual sexologist/astrologer. An early Gay Rights activist and a practical prototype for the hippies.”
In 1962, Arthur published The Circle of Sex, a book that analyzed human sexuality through the lens of astrology. Rather than the linear scale developed by Alfred Kinsey, Arthur envisioned sexuality as a wheel with twelve orientations. The twelve types corresponded to the zodiac and Arthur illustrated each with an historical archetype (e.g., Don Juan, Sappho, Lady C). He appears in James Broughton’s film The Bed as the man receiving last rites from Alan Watts
Arthur, bisexual himself, was said to have been intimate with Edward Carpenter and Neal Cassady. Arthur was also a friend to many of the beat generation, including Allen Ginsberg and Alan Watts, and was active in the early Gay Liberation movement movement.
Arthur married for the third time in 1965 to Ellen Jansen. He wrote an enlarged edition of The Circle of Sex the following year. He used astrology to determine the date to hold the Human Be-in in 1967. In 1968, he debated fellow astrologer Dane Rudhyar on the topic of the Age of Aquarius. In 1972, Arthur died in San Francisco. Having no children himself, he was the last living descendant of his grandfather, President Chester A. Arthur. His papers, including many family papers, were donated to the Library of Congress.