Prime Timers: A New Age for Activism

From authors and actors to artists and activists, these 25 LGBT prime timers are still on the front lines in the battle for equality and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.



Felice Picano, 69, Author
Felice Picano is unquestionably one of the giants of gay literature — and literature in general. He’s written more than 25 books, encompassing fiction, poetry, memoir, and general nonfiction, and including best sellers such as The Lure, Like People in History, and The Book of Lies. He’s also penned plays and screenplays. In the early 1980s he was part of a group of pioneering and influential gay writers collectively known as the Violet Quill; other members were Andrew Holleran, Edmund White, Christopher Cox, Michael Grumley, Robert Ferro, and George Whitmore. “They tackled the technical problems of writing gay literature from a gay perspective and within a narrative context,” Frank Pizzoli wrote recently on the Lambda Literary Foundation website. “They didn’t explain where homosexuality came from nor did they bother to explain gay customs. Their work was ‘of gay, by gay, and for gay.’” In the same article, Picano told Pizzoli, “I have met so many people who said to me, ‘I’m gay because I read your book The Lure.’ They realized there was much more to gay life … than they had ever dreamed of, because I made gay life a complex society filled with people of different ethnic and color persuasions.” The novel, published in 1979, was the first gay-themed work selected by the National Book Club, and it brought Picano fame but also death threats. He was not intimidated, though, and he’s still writing and publishing; his latest book, 20th Century Un-Limited, containing a short novel and a novella, came out in April. He has received numerous awards and honors, including, this year, the city of West Hollywood’s Rainbow Key Award.


Jewelle Gomez, 64, Author and Activist
Her birthday is only a few days away,  so it's a good time to celebrate. Jewelle Gomez's Lambda-award winning first novel, The Gilda Stories, has been in print for more than 20 years and she's gone onto a career that explores her Native American roots plus her feminist point of view. Photos recently captured the moment at City Hall in San Francisco when Gomez and her wife, Diane Sabin, heard the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling overturning Proposition 8. It shouldn't come as a surprise they were there. They were also there in 2004 when San Francisco led the country and suddenly began issuing marriage licenses. Then they joined with 11 other couples in a legal challenge that led to California briefly legalizing same-sex marriages, including their own. So the Supreme Court ruling was the end of a long story.