ALLEN GINSBERG, American poet died (b. 1926); Ginsberg’s contributions to western 20th century culture are legend. But one contribution that is often considered his most significant and most controversial was his openness about homosexuality. Ginsberg was an early proponent of freedom for men who loved other men, having already in 1943 discovered within himself “mountains of homosexuality.” He expressed this desire openly and graphically in his poetry. He also struck a note for marriage equality by listing Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong companion, as his spouse in his Who’s Who entry. Later Gay writers saw his frank talk about homosexuality as an opening to speak more openly and honestly about something often before only hinted at or spoken of in metaphor.

Also, in writing about sexuality in graphic detail and in his frequent use of language seen as indecent he challenged — and ultimately changed — obscenity laws. He was a staunch supporter of others whose expression challenged obscenity laws (William S. Burroughs and Lenny Bruce, for example).

The film Kill Your Darlings, starring Daniel Radcliffe is worth watching. It tells the story of Ginsberg’s admittance to Columbia University and his relationships there with Burroughs and Lucien Carr, to whom the original HOWL was dedicated.