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Warren Johansson (1934-1994) was an author and a leading American gay scholar during his lifetime.
He was born in 1934, in Philadelphia, with the name Philip Joseph Wallfield. His father was Jewish and so, one presumes, was the young Philip. At some point in his later career, he changed his name to the very Nordic "Warren Johansson," to express the horror he had developed of Jewish homophobia.
His first venture into gay scholarship was to virtually co-author Greek Love with the numismatist (and, much later, the convicted child molester) Walter Breen.
He abandoned formal academic studies without bothering to obtain a Ph.D. Johansson made himself a master of all the modern European languages (excepting only Basque, Hungarian, and Finnish). He was a master of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic. He used his startling linguistic abilities to read deeply and spent much of his life in libraries. William A. Percy cites just one example of Johansson's surprising discoveries: while the British Wolfenden Committee was sitting, Johannson unearthed the by-now-famous citation from Sigmund Freud, to the effect that homosexuals were not sick, and sent it off. Later, he provided expert testimony to legislative bodies in several countries.
Johansson apparently ran through a couple of bequests in record time: at one time he was driving a Mercedes in California, but most of the time he was penniless, and slept in public places such as libraries. As Percy points out, Johansson came to see himself as a model of the Talmudic scholar, and thought it only fair that he should receive room and board in exchange for providing what amounted to an advanced post-graduate education in gay studies, gratis.
At the present moment, it is impossible to write the complete biography of this extremely reclusive person. From time to time, more facts emerge, such as the traumatic murder of Johansson's father—blown to pieces with a shotgun by robbers in his pharmacy.
Author and historian William Armstrong Percy has called Johansson "simply the most extraordinary person I have ever known."
- Editor, Encyclopedia of Homosexuality.
- co-authored Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence.
William A. Percy, "Warren Johansson," in Vern Bullough: Before Stonewall (Binghamton, 2002).