Arthur Evans (b. October 12, 1942 in York, Pennsylvania - died 11 September, 2011 in San Francisco, California) was an American writer and philosopher. His 1978 book, Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, is considered to be an influential document within the Radical Faeries movement.
Early activism and studiesEdit
Born to an assembly line working father of Scots-Welsh descent and a beautician mother, he attended Brown University and co-founded the Brown Freethinkers Society, a "militant atheist" group which protested the presence and effects of organized religion on campus; when he participated in an anti-chapel protest and his scholarship from Glatfelter Paper Company was threatened with revocation, the octogenarian millionaire head of the national Freethinkers Society, Joseph Lewis, reacted by threatening a lawsuit against the paper company on behalf of Evans, forcing the company to retract their threat and retain Evans' scholarship. He switched his major from chemistry to political science and, during a summer recess, participated at an Afro-American civil rights protest in front of York County Courthouse (his first political demonstration). However, after having contemplated the implications of his sexuality and the possibility of suicide as an exit from the closet within the three years of his university education, he left Brown in 1963 and moved to Greenwich Village in New York.
Soon after moving to Greenwich, he became lovers with Arthur Bell, and in 1966, he transferred his credits from Brown to the City College of New York, where he would graduate with a B.A. in philosophy in 1967. While there, however, he participated in his first sit-in on May 13, 1966, in protest against the usage of the federal Selective Service program by the college. He joined the doctoral program at Columbia University, where he, influenced by the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, would become involved with the large 1968 anti-Vietnam War protests at both Columbia (in the Spring) and the Democratic National Convention; at the university, he would join the Student Homophile League, founded by Nino Romano.
The June 1969 Stonewall riots, however, would galvanize him to participate in the increasingly radical phase of the gay civil rights movement, even though he was not present at the event. He and Bell would join the Gay Liberation Front, within which he and a few friends created the Radical Study Group, which was purposed to examination of the roots of anti-gay oppression and sexism; a number of RSG members would become respected writers in their own careers.
Dissatisfied with the alleged incoherence of the GLF's direction, however, Evans and Bell, alongside Jim Owles and Marty Robinson, would co-found the Gay Activists Alliance, which would coordinate "zaps", or direct, non-violent face-to-face confrontations with homophobic people in authority. Evans and other GLF members would be frequently arrested for their often highly-publicized zaps, but in 1970, he and Robinson were invited as guests on the Dick Cavette Show, becoming two of the first militant gay activists to appear on national television; it was through the airing of this broadcast that Evans would be outed to his parents in Pennsylvania, who had invited their friends to watch the broadcast when he told them that he would appear without disclosing the reasons for his appearance. He later regretted that method of outing in retrospect.
The next year, he and Bell broke up on bitter terms, with Bell lambasting Evans publicly (using Evans' GLF nom-de-guerre, "Paul Cliffman") in a GLF-criticizing piece for his column in the Village Voice.
From activism to countercultural philosophyEdit
Evans, however, had become disenchanted with life in urban environs and his time as member of the GAA, in which he made two unsuccessful bids for president. In 1972, he withdrew from Columbia without having completed his doctoral dissertation and, with new lover Jacob Schraeter, left New York in April for the rural counterculture on the Western coast. While living in Seattle, he, Schraeter and a third gay man would establish the Weird Sisters Partnership and homestead on a small patch of forest land on a remote mountain in northeastern Washington State, a site they named New Sodom. While there, he would continue his studies on sexism, homophobia and sexual counterculture, publishing his findings in the New York gay journal Out (and later, after Out folded, in Fag Rag), while also publishing his ideas on zapping for the Advocate.
In 1974, New Sodom folded and both he and Schraeter moved to San Francisco. In the fall of the next year, he would create the Faery Circle, a group which combined neo-pagan consciousness, gay sensibility, and ritual play; he would augment this group in 1976 with a series of lectures, titled "Faeries", based on his research of sexual counterculture. In the meantime, he would also become active in Bay Area Gay Liberation and the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club (later renamed the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club in memory of its founder and leading political star). He would also co-establish a Volkswagen repair business, "the Buggery", with business partner Hal Offen.
In 1978, he published his seminal work, Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (through Fag Rag Books), which documented the role of homophobia in historic European witch hunts. In the late 70s, he published a series of controversial street leaflets under the nom-de-guerre "the Red Queen", in which he satirized and castigated the emulation of heteronormative, overmasculine behaviors by gay men; he also uttered some of the first mentionings of the later-popular slur "Castro clone" to describe and disparage butch-conformant gays.
In 1984, he directed a rendition at the Valencia Rose Cabaret of a production based on his own translation of the ancient Greek play by Euripides, Bakkhai (based on the Greek god Dionysis). This version of the play was published in print in 1988 by St. Martin's Press, under the name The God of Ecstasy, which included his commentary on the historic significance and context of the play for gays and lesbians.
In 1986, he went back to Columbia with the intention of completing his doctoral dissertation, but soon left again without doing so, and instead began work on a trilogy of dissertations on a new gay philosophy of life; the first volume, Critique of Patriarchal Reason, was published by White Crane Press in 1997.
He continued his activism for AIDS treatment until his death.
Arthur Evans last lived in San Francisco, where he had lived since moving there in 1974.
He and Arthur Bell would later reconcile their differences, and Bell dedicated his second book, Kings Don't Mean a Thing (1978), to Evans; Bell, with whom Evans lived and loved from 1964 to 1971, died of complications from diabetes in 1984. Jacob Schraeter, his second partner, moved back to New York in 1981 and died of AIDS in 1989.
Evans had three other lovers in his life: Donald Hershman (still alive), José-Luis Moscovich (still alive), and Billy Amberg (who died of AIDS in 1992).