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Author/activist Larry Townsend dies

From Jesse Monteagudo:

townsend1I am sad to announce that Larry Townsend, gay leather activist and author, passed away at the age of 77. He wrote "The Leatherman's Handbook" (1972), the classic primer on kinky gay sex, as well as a score of gay leather novels and a leather advice column.  Mr. Townsend's long-time friend, author Jack Fritscher, wrote this obituary:

Larry Townsend
27 October 1930 - 29 July 2008

Spill a drop for lost brothers.

Larry Townsend was the pseudonymous author of dozens of books including Run Little Leather Boy (1970) and The Leatherman's Handbook (1972) at pioneer erotic presses such as Greenleaf Classics and the Other Traveler imprint of Olympia Press. Growing up as a teenager of Swiss-German extraction in Los Angeles a few houses from Noel Coward and Irene Dunne, he ate cookies with his neighbor Laura Hope Crews who was Aunt Pittypat in Gone with the Wind.

He attended the prestigious Peddie School, and was stationed as Staff Sergeant in charge of NCOIC Operations of Air Intelligence Squadrons for nearly five years with the US Air Force in Germany (1950-1954). Completing his tour of duty, he entered into the 1950s underground of the LA leather scene where he and Montgomery Clift shared a lover. With his degree in industrial psychology from UCLA (1957), he worked in the private sector and as a probation officer with the Forestry Service. He began his pioneering activism in the politics of gay liberation in the early 1960s.

townsendIn 1972, as president of the "Homophile Effort for Legal Protection" which had been founded in 1969 to defend gays during and after arrests, he led a group in founding the H.E.L.P. Newsletter, the forebear of Drummer (1975). As a writer and photographer, he was an essential eyewitness of the drama and salon around Drummer in which his novels were often excerpted. His signature "Leather Notebook" column appeared in Drummer for twelve years beginning in 1980, and continued in Honcho to Spring 2008. His last novel, TimeMasters, was published April 2008; his last writing was an introduction to Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer (June 2008). To research biographical details about Larry Townsend that are approved for accuracy by Larry Townsend, type "Larry Townsend" into the SEARCH feature at


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Thanks for posting this. I'm one of Larry's nieces, and have been trying to get the word out the gay community about his passing, which is a little daunting, particularly during a hard time for our family. There is a "guestbook" online, through the L.A. Times, where a formal obituary was published August 1st. Here's the link for anyone who wants to sign it. Please pass it along...

Thanks again for letting people know this sad news.
Tracy Tingle

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