ARTHUR EVANS, gay theorist, philosopher, activist died on this date (b: 1942). Evans was one of the founders of the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) that coalesced after Gay people and supporters protested a 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village Gay bar. He and others founded the organization when they became frustrated with the tactics of the Gay Liberation Front, which he felt were not assertive enough. Based in New York, the alliance became a model for Gay Rights organizations nationwide, pushing in New York for legislation to ban discrimination against Gay men and Lesbians in employment, housing and other areas.
Mr. Evans wrote its statement of purpose and much of its constitution, which began, “We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”
To attract attention the alliance staged what its members called “zaps,” confrontations with people or institutions that they believed discriminated against gay people. Among other incidents, they confronted Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York, went to television studios to protest shows perceived as anti-Gay, demanded Gay marriage equality rights at the city’s marriage license bureau, and demonstrated at the taxi commission against a regulation, since abolished, requiring Gay people to get a psychiatrist’s approval before they could be allowed to drive a taxi.
In the fall of 1970, Mr. Evans and others showed up at the offices of Harper’s Magazine in Manhattan to protest an article it had published sharply criticizing Gay people and their lifestyle. It was Mr. Evans’s idea to bring a coffee pot, doughnuts, a folding table and chairs for a civilized “tea party.” When the editor, Midge Decter, refused to print a rebuttal as the group demanded, Mr. Evans erupted.
“You knew that this article would contribute to the oppression of homosexuals!” he yelled, according to the 1999 book “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America” by Dudley Clendinen, a former reporter for The New York Times, and Adam Nagourney, a current Times reporter. “You are a bigot, and you are to be held responsible for that moral and political act.”
While living in Washington, Mr. Evans had spent his winters in Seattle researching the historical origins of the counterculture. After settling in San Francisco, he wrote “Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture,” a 1978 book tracing homophobic attitudes to the Middle Ages, when people accused of witchcraft, the book contended, were being persecuted in part for their sexuality, often their homosexuality.
He was among the first — if not the first — people to coin and use the term “Radical Faerie” beginning in a regularly circle that met in San Francisco.
He went on to write The God of Ecstasy, a reinterpretation of the Dionysus myth and Critique of Patriarchal Reason (1997), a dense treatise arguing that misogyny and homophobia have influenced supposedly objective fields like logic and physics.