American educator, author and gay activist, ARNIE KANTROWITZ born; Having received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers in 1961 and a master’s degree from New York University in 1963, he taught English at State University College at Cortlandt (New York) before accepting a position in the English Department at Staten Island Community College (now The College of Staten Island, City University of New York) in 1965.
After many years of struggle with his sexuality, including psychotherapy and two suicide attempts, Kantrowitz “came out” and immediately became active in the Gay liberation movement in New York City.
He joined the recently established Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in 1970, was elected secretary and, the following year, vice-president. In addition to participating in GAA’s non-violent protest “zaps,” and speaking out for Gay rights on national television, Kantrowitz also put his writing talent at the service of the movement. He contributed first to GAA’s newsletter Gay Activist and then for several other Gay publications. By 1975 he had become a popular regular contributor to the Advocate and Christopher Street. Kantrowitz became known to an even wider audience when his autobiography, Under the Rainbow, was published by William Morrow and Co. in 1977.
Kantrowitz has been an activist in the classroom for over twenty years. To present a positive role-model for Gay students and increase the understanding of Gay men and Lesbians among all students, he made it a policy to formally discuss his sexuality in each of his classes, and invite responses from the students. He was also Associate Professor of English at The College of Staten Island.
In 1985 Kantrowitz became a founding member and officer of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an organization devoted to advancing fair and accurate portrayals of Gay men and Lesbians in the media. He has continued to write frequently about the Gay experience for the Gay and popular press, and his essays have been widely anthologized, most recently in Personal Dispatches: Writers Respond to AIDS, 1990; Hometowns, 1991, Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice, 1991; A Member of the Family: Gay Men Write About Their Families, 1992; Friends and Lovers: Gay Men Write About the Families They Create, 1995; and Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage, 1995. He is also the author of Walt Whitman, a biography of the American poet written for the Chelsea House series Lives of Notable Gay Men and Lesbians. Kantrowitz currently lives in New York City with his life partner, fellow writer and activist Lawrence D. Mass, MD, and wrote regularly for White Crane.