MARK THOMPSON, American activist, author and editor, was born on this date (d: August 23, 2016); Mark Thompson was born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula, California, during the 1950s and ’60s. In 1973, Thompson helped found the Gay Students Coalition at San Francisco State University, where he was a journalism student, and has worked for Gay causes since that time.
He began his writing career at the national Gay and Lesbian news magazine The Advocate in 1975, reporting on culture and politics in Europe. Thompson continued to serve the publication during the next two decades in a number of capacities–as a feature writer, photographer, and Senior Editor. In 1994, he completed his tenure at the magazine by editing Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement (St. Martin’s Press), a massive volume of half a million words and over seven hundred images documenting the Gay and Lesbian struggle for civil rights. The book was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards.
Thompson is best remembered, however, for his influential trilogy of books dealing with Gay spirituality. The first in the series, Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning (White Crane Books) was published in 1987. The anthology has been acclaimed around the world and was recently included on a list compiled by the Lambda Book Report of the “100 Lesbian and Gay Books That Changed Our Lives.” The Los Angeles Times called Gay Spirit an “exciting challenge to conventional thinking.”
Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature (HarperSan Francisco) followed in 1994. The Lambda Literary Award-nominated book consists of in-depth conversations and photographs with sixteen prominent writers, teachers, and visionaries. “Gay Soul is an outpouring of much-needed love–from new kinds of ‘fathers’,” commented poet Judy Grahn. Christine Downing, author of Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, described the book as “a wake-up call to Gay souls.” Robert Goss, author of Jesus Acted Up said, “I came away with a great deal of hope, for Gay spiritualities have the potentiality for profound cultural transformation.”
The trilogy was completed in 1997 with the publication of Gay Body: A Journey Through Shadow to Self (St. Martin’s Press), an autobiographical memoir combining elements of Jungian archetypes, Gay history and mythology, and New Age spirituality. The Washington Post said “the road Thompson travels is fascinating, as he unlocks closets within closets.” Library Journal called the Lambda Literary Award-nominated book “a provocative work, seamlessly woven.”
Mark and Malcolm gave a substantive interview about their twenty-year relationship in the fall 2005 issue of White Crane. Thompson book, Advocate Days, is a memoir about about LGBT activism in the 1970s. He was the co-editor of The Fire In Moonlight: A Radical Faerie Reader with Richard Neely and this writer.
He lived in Los Angeles with his life partner, Episcopal priest and author Malcolm Boyd who died the year prior to Mark. Mark had moved to Palm Springs after Malcolm’s passing. He suffered a heart attack swimming in his pool. I miss him every day.