Jack Nichols, pioneer of gay rights movement

Associated Press
Published May 3, 2005

COCOA BEACH - Jack Nichols, a writer and editor who was a pioneering member of the gay rights movement in the United States, died Monday. He was 67.

Mr. Nichols died at Cape Canaveral Hospital of complications from cancer, according to his friend Steve Yates, who said Mr. Nichols had battled cancer for 20 years.

"Jack was among the gay pioneers who stepped out of a debilitating closet and helped crack the cocoon of invisibility," said Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum, a Philadelphia-based gay rights group.

Mr. Nichols helped found chapters of the Mattachine Society, an early support group for gays, in Florida and Washington, D.C., in the early and mid 1960s. He also helped plan some of the nation's first organized, annual gay and lesbian civil rights demonstrations, including a protest outside Philadelphia's Independence Hall on July 4, 1965.

He was among the first gay activists to challenge the American Psychiatric Association's position that homosexuality was a mental illness.

In 1967, he appeared in a groundbreaking CBS documentary on homosexuality, Lazin said.

From 1969 to 1973, Mr. Nichols and his partner, the late Lige Clark, were editors of GAY , America's first gay weekly newspaper. The two also wrote a nonfiction memoir called I Have More Fun with You than Anybody .

Mr. Nichols wrote several other books, including Men's Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity and The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists . His most recent, published last year, was The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer . From 1997 to 2004 he edited the Internet news magazine GayToday.com.

"Everyone who met him felt like he was there for just them," said Yates, his friend since 1962. "Beyond gay rights, he was a human rights advocate. That was his true goal."