Pioneering gay activist John Burnside dies

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imageJohn Lyon Burnside III, a founder of the Radical Faeries, inventor and longtime partner of the late gay rights pioneer Harry Hay, has died.

Mr. Burnside was one of the few remaining midcentury gay activists, who risked ostracism in the 1960s by protesting the military’s exclusion of gays and advocating for gay men to speak up for their rights and explore their spirituality.

Mr. Burnside and Hay were featured in films, on TV and in books discussing their relationship and the gay rights movement. Their unique love story was transmitted across the globe and served as a model of men loving men at a time when there were few such examples.

Hay, who died at age 90 in 2002, is acclaimed for starting the Mattachine Society in 1950, believed to be the country’s first gay rights organization.

“John balked at the rush among some gay people to say, ‘We’re just like straight people,’ ” Cain said. “He would say, ‘No, we’re not. We’re not better or worse, but we need to recognize our unique vision and share that with the world.’ He embodied that constant exploration of what it means to be gay.”

Read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle.


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