John Lauritsen (1939 - )

John Lauritsen, a market research analyst, publisher, and writer, was born and raised in Nebraska. After graduation from Harvard in 1963, he lived in New York City from 1963 to 1995, then Provincetown from 1995 to 2003, and now lives in Dorchester (part of Boston).

In 1966, he established a career as a market research executive and analyst, but he has also been a gay activist and scholar since the earliest days of the gay liberation movement.

In the summer of 1969 he joined the Gay Liberation Front and edited Come Out!, the first publication of the post-Stonewall gay movement. In 1974 he joined the Gay Activists Alliance, serving as Delegate-At-Large; joined the Gay Academic Union, of which he later became a National Director; and was a member of the Columbia University Seminar on Homosexualities.

Beginning in the mid-1970s Lauritsen became known within the gay movement as an opponent of religion. In 1974 he published a pamphlet, “Religious Roots of the Taboo on Homosexuality”, which became an underground bestseller. It was sold by the National Secular Society (London) and Gay News (London), as well as in gay bookstores. In 1980 he and two colleagues in the Gay Academic Union (GAU) became the most severe critics of the late John Boswell, whose best-selling book — Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality — was then, and still is, the Bible for gay Christians. The GAU pamphlet — Homosexuality, Intolerance, and Christianity — went through several printings and two editions; it is online here.

With the advent of the gay health crisis in the early 1980s, Lauritsen became an investigative journalist and a leading AIDS critic. His main outlet was the New York Native, which from 1985 to 1996 published over 50 of his articles. These articles have been described by the leading science and medical correspondent of the Sunday Times (London) as “the most trenchantly informative, irreverent, funny and tragic writing of the Aids years” (Neville Hodgkinson, Aids: The Failure of Contemporary Science, London 1996). Many of these are on the web. (See AIDS section.)

In addition to the Native, John Lauritsen's articles have appeared in publications as diverse as Gay Books Bulletin, Gay Times (London), Civil Liberties Review, The Freethinker (London), Journal of Homosexuality, Christopher Street, Gay & Lesbian Humanist, Gay Humanist Quarterly, Gay & Lesbian Review, Bio/Technology, and The Lancet. His writings have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian.


Co-authored with David Thorstad) The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935) (New York 1974; Second Revised Edition, Ojai, California 1995). This seminal work, continuously in print since 1974, uncovered the forgotten history of the gay movement of the 19th and the early 20th century.

(Editor) John Addington Symonds, Male Love: A Problem in Greek Ethics and other writings  (New York 1983).

(Co-authored with Hank Wilson) Death Rush: Poppers [Nitrite Inhalants] and AIDS  New York 1986).  Now online.

Poison By Prescription: The AZT Story (New York 1990).

The AIDS War: Propaganda, Profiteering and Genocide from the Medical-Industrial Complex  (New York 1993).

(Co-edited with Ian Young) The AIDS Cult: Essays on the gay health crisis (Provincetown 1997).

A Freethinker's Primer of Male Love (Provincetown 1998). Lauritsen has stated that it took him over a decade to write a book this short (96 pages). Written in an almost aphoristic style, A Freethinker's Primer of Male Love is “a celebration and defence of male love from a secular humanist perspective”. Its opening paragraph lays out his leading thesis:

This is the story of how a form of love, highly esteemed in Classical Antiquity, fell under a religious taboo — how as a result its practitioners suffered dishonor, imprisonment, torture, and death. It is about a crippling of the male psyche through the twin forces of superstition and tyranny.”

(Editor) Plato: The Banquet translated by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Provincetown 2001). Although Shelley's translation of Plato's Dialogue on Love, The Banquet (or Symposium) is a masterpiece of English as well as world literature, it was suppressed and then bowdlerized for well over a century. This edition represents the first time Shelley's translation has been available as a work in its own right, complete and unbowdlerized, along with his introductory essay, “A Discourse on the Manners of the Antient Greeks”.

The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein. (Dorchester 2007) This book has three theses: 1) Frankenstein is a great work, which has consistently been underrated and misinterpreted; 2) the real author of Frankenstein is Percy Bysshe Shelley, not his second wife, the former Mary Godwin; 3) male love is the dominant theme of Frankenstein.

(Editor) Aeschylus, Oresteia: The Medwin-Shelley Translation (Dorchester 2011.

(Editor) Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound: The Medwin-Shelley Translation + Shelley, Prometheus Unbound. (Dorchester 2011).

A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous (Dorchester 2014).