Page 220 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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200                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            about and for women and female-identified homosexuals — will not hold
            a grudge ever in print or in their hearts against one of the earliest historic,
            agenda-free documents written by a man about men and for men.

            The Leatherman’s Handbook, chock full of sexual entertainment and liter-
            ary license to illustrate the wide psychology of leather, merits, by enter-
            tainment value, at least, status with Chaucer’s travelers’ handbook, The
            Canterbury Tales. Like New Journalist Hunter Thompson, author of The
            Hell’s Angels, journalist-player Larry Townsend, the right reporter in the
            right place at the right time, did not invent leather culture, but he defi-
            nitely caught the wave of a movement co-created by quite a few players,
            writers, photographers, and entrepreneurs who themselves were and are
            active and deeply established S&M leather masters and slaves whose influ-
            ential names may not be known to a fresh new leatherboy who just fell off
            the turnip truck crossing the rough rails of the Millennium.
               Masculine-identified leather artists of the visual, articulated by all
            the masculine-identified leather voices writing — including Townsend in
            1972, helped motivate, and received validation in prompting, the Ameri-
            can Psychiatric Association’s removing homosexuality from its official
            list of mental disorders in 1974. This victory is a red-letter day in the
            black-and-blue History of Homosexuality.
               The groundbreaking 1972 publication of Larry Townsend’s Leather-
            man’s Handbook is as remarkable a construct as Stonewall itself, because
            it was a declaration of independence for “anatomically correct” homo-
            masculinity. Ask Martin Duberman. By June, 1976, Larry, with Robert
            Opel, reported the first leatherman’s wedding and gay marriage between
            Tom Bertman and Fred Schultz at Griff’s leather bar in LA. Townsend
            has always been a liberal voice advising common sense and progressive

            Larry, while writing his Handbook, which is more “etiquette book” and
            “encyclopedia” than “manifesto,” was a celebrated political activist in Los
            Angeles with the Homophile Effort for Legal Protection, Inc., or H.E.L.P.
            This organization, lightly inspired by Henry David Thoreau, originated
            the newsprint paper, H.E.L.P./Drummer, in 1972. Larry Townsend
            was president of H.E.L.P. and his name appeared on the masthead of
            this “pre”-Drummer tabloid. At this early date, a major news article in

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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