1916-11-02

JOHN LYON BURNSIDE III was born on this date (d: 2008); He was the inventor of the teleidoscope, the Darkfield Kaleidoscope and the Symmetricon and, because he rediscovered the math behind kaleidoscope optics, for decades, every maker of optically correct kaleidoscopes sold in the U.S. paid him royalties. He was the life partner of Harry Hay for 40 years, from 1962 until Hay’s death in 2002. John lived in San Francisco, California until his death from complications of brain cancer, aged 91.

Burnside and Hay formed a group in the early 1960s called the Circle of Loving Companions that promoted gay rights and gay love. In 1966 they were major planners of one of the first gay rights march, a protest against exclusion of homosexuals from the military, held in Los Angeles. In 1967, they appeared as a couple on the Joe Pyne television show. In the late 1970s, they imagined the Radical Faeries along with Don Kilhefner.

He and Harry were seen as such a singular unit that he became known in some circles as “n’John” as in “Harry ‘n John”” A sweeter man I have never met.