DAVID CARTER was an author and historian on LGBTQ civil rights born on this date (d: 2020); He is credited with writing the definitive book about the 1969 Stonewall riots that he said triggered a worldwide “mass movement” for LGBTQ rights. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, was published in 2004, when a younger generation might not have fully appreciated how oppressive life was for gay men and women in the New York of the 1960s. Mr. Carter conjured the times bluntly.
Shortly after his Stonewall book was published, Carter began work on what he considered his next major project – a definitive biography of gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, the co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. in the early 1960s. For more than 10 years, Carter conducted extensive research on Kameny’s role as one of the first known pre-Stonewall activists who declared homosexuals to be a minority group deserving of full civil rights.
Carter was born and raised in the Southeast Georgia town of Jesup. He graduated from the town’s Wayne County High School before attending Emory University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and French.
During his junior year in college he studied at the Sorbonne University in France. He later attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a master’s degree in 1978 in South Asian Studies. He first became involved in the gay rights movement while a graduate student in Madison. Among other things, Carter organized a 1977 dance that raised more than $1,000 to support a Dade County, Fla., gay rights group that was fighting a campaign by anti-gay advocate Anita Bryant to overturn the Florida county’s gay rights law.
A short time later, Carter co-founded an organization in Madison that led a successful effort to prevent anti-gay advocates from overturning Madison’s gay rights law, making Madison one of the few places in the country in the late 1970s and early 1980s to stop an effort to repeal a pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination law.
Carter later became involved in the successful lobbying effort that made Wisconsin the first state in the nation to pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
He moved to New York City in 1985 shortly before starting work as an editor at Chelsea House Publishers, a publisher of young adult multicultural books. Chelsea accepted a proposal by Carter that it publish two separate book series for young adults, “Issues in Gay and Lesbian Life” and “Lives of Notable Gay Men and Lesbians.”
After leaving Chelsea House, Carter began work on the Stonewall book and a separate book consisting of a collection of interviews of famed gay poet Allen Ginsberg that was later published as “Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996.”
In 2014, Carter served as the historic adviser to the National Park Service in the successful effort to have the Stonewall site become a National Monument.
He died May 1 at his Greenwich Village apartment in New York City. He was 67.