Monday, June 29, 2015


The great activist and feminist, Charlotte Bunch, who, among other accomplishments, successfully lobbied the United Nations to include women's issues as Human Rights issues, is interviewed in my anthology, THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY. I heard from her today, saying that she likes the book and is willing to offer it her support. What an honor to be endorsed by someone, who deserves to be on US postage stamps.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Adrian Brooks, Judy Shepard and "The Right Side of History"

I'm thrilled that, on this day, with Pride marches across the land- Human Rights heroine and activist Judy Shepard sent the following endorsement of my anthology, THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY:

“I am honored to be included among the many brave and committed individuals who have worked tirelessly through history in the fight for LGBTQ rights. The complex and diverse set of voices woven together by author Adrian Brooks in The Right Side of History inform what many may not know about the history of gay rights, and reveals stories and narratives that give us all a better understanding of the path of this battle for fundamental equality.” Judy Shepard, Co-Founder and President, The Matthew Shepard Foundation

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality...

We all know the battle for full LGBTQI equality isn't over but, with this historic ruling from the Supreme Court and the incredible endorsement by President Obama, we can grasp the fact that we've won a tremendous victory. It's no exaggeration to say we're on THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY, as my newly released anthology asserts. And while more tasks remain, this is time to celebrate. Millions lived in dread and pain without imagining such progress; we stand on their shoulders. They can't ever be forgotten. I know I join millions more sending thanks to Justice Kennedy for his part in this historic decision. Yet even in our moment of triumph, let's recommit to ensuring equal rights and equal legal protection for women, the poor, the aged, people of color, undocumented workers, students, the disabled and anyone else who feels the sting of bigotry or burden of economic injustice.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Author Adrian Brooks: The Matthew Shepherd Foundation

Today, when Marriage Equality has become national law, I'm especially moved to have my anthology THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY included and praised on the Facebook page of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The organization founded by his parents seeks to replace hate with love and bigotry with understanding. I am proud that Judy Shepard consented to be interviewed for my book and honored to offer my services in whatever way/s I can to further their mission.

This is time for joy and celebration. Even so, as long as any LGBTQI person is subjected to brutality- be it psychological or physical- the work of the Matthew Shepard Foundation remains crucial and, potentially, life-saving. As such, while we take justifiable pride in the Supreme Court ruling, let's bear in mind the sacrifices, which led to this transformation, Matthew Shepard being one of those who fell on the way to the United States enshrining Human Rights in this astounding way.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Adrian Brooks: Who are the (Stalinist) LGBTQI Thought Police?!

This evening, I read something totally crazy. A bisexual female friend, who is in a loving relationship with a trans man, is apprehensive about attending Pride celebrations because gay men hog the atmosphere, and because many people- (I assume of various gender preferences)- cast slurs or aim criticism at others whom they perceive as not being 'gay enough,' according to their assumptions. Okay. That is beyond nuts. That's flat out weird. And I'm unafraid to say it since I was out before Stonewall, and was an activist before the LGBT Movement (or Gay Liberation) was even heard of.

Let's get this straight, if you'll pardon the pun: everyone should be accorded equal rights, equal respect; and attendees who call themselves sexually, spiritually or personally advanced who doesn't grasp this simple fact should go back to Square One and start again. I'm serious. This is like some African-American people thinking they they're "better" because their skin is more pale than some other African-American. Does anyone seriously believe that bisexuals or transgender folk or people who are sexually comfortable or fluid aren't standing with us if they attend Pride?! For anyone who does, I have news for you as a Civil Rights and anti-war activist in the mid-60s, who risked my life for both causes. And that's no exaggeration.

When I went to Woodstock, (which was in 1969, for any pc types who don't know), I saw lots of people- mainly men- who would have beaten the shit out of my friends and me a year earlier for protesting the Vietnam war. But- hey!- now that it was "hip" to supporting peace, there they were- sporting weird mutton-chop sideburns and swaggering around exuding macho righteousness. It was vulgar, just as coarse as anyone who claims to be aware trying to make others uncomfortable because they appear to be different.

THE WHOLE POINT is to be different; to be yourSELF; to be unique, Whole, not stereotyped, not castrated or controlled by the system, not desexed, dumbed down, or blunted by conformist pressure. Failing to celebrate others only means that you still define yourself by some applied value system. If so, it's based more on Ideas than heart, on theories than the reality of humanness in all its subtly, and that you're still unresolved about your own core Truth. So! stop being robotic. Look at others in terms of what you share. See the courage and humor and freedom expressed and celebrated instead of reincarnating some Puritanical anal retentive need to criticize or dismiss people who aren't the same as you.

I say all this as one who was out on the front lines, who understood- then and now (as millions of my generation said they did in the 60s before so many bailed after the Kent State killings), that what we were fighting for, marching for, committing to wasn't group-think or mind control but has, finally, become the ability to be distinctly individual and, yes, marry if we so choose, have children, if we so choose, and agitate for human rights and equal access to legal rights for all- regardless of superficial differences- until everyone is secure and free from the specter of being punished for authenticity.

Wake up and smell the coffee. If you endorse the LGBTQI Cause, it is not to be chipped away at, trivialized, or rendered soulless. If you can't manage that, you're in the wrong place, regardless of what gets you physically excited. Sex is the trivial part. But as the dynamic (bisexual) anarchist Emma Goldman is reputed to have said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

Author Adrian Brooks and The Matthew Shepard Foundation

I'm honored to announced that the Matthew Shepard Foundation plans to include my new anthology- THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY; 100 Years of LGBT radical activism- on their website and endorse it with an enthusiastic blurb, one to be featured on future editions.

Susan Burk, Director of the Laramie Project and a close friend of Judy Shepard, who generously granted me an interview writes: "The book is wonderful. Inspiring. Educational. Fabulous. Moving. All of those things. I'm learning SO much. "

(Note: That is not the actual blurb itself but I'm so pleased that I can't help sharing the news!)

It's profoundly moving to me to receive the support of The Matthew Shepard Foundation since I feel that, as long as LGBT youth are at risk of being bullied, hurt, tormented, killed or driven to suicide, the mission that Denis and Judy Shepard created in memory of their crucified son remains vitally important and worthy of support from everyone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Author Adrian Brooks: From Philadelphia to San Francisco to India and Back Again.

Having been born and raised in Main Line/Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia when the East Coast's multi-tiered class system was still dominant, I've seen a lot of changes in 67 years. When I was a boy, no one questioned Authority. Then along came Martin Luther King (for whom I was a volunteer) and Vietnam, (which I protested very early on) and everything was turned upside down.

The 'up' wasn't only the high of belonging to a generation, which seemed committed to wide-scale social progress; it was drugs, in my case. The magical mystery LSD  tour led by the Beatles swept me through Woodstock to San Francisco in time for the last days of the hippie revolution, something which gelled perfectly with my Quaker sense of activism.

Throughout the early 70s, San Francisco seemed an "island in time" as gay liberation moved front and center. As a vanguard artist in that revolutionary culture, I still conceived of the country in terms of polarities of consciousness: the east coast vs the west coast. For me, idyllic California represented everything that I was trying to escape from. It was the new and organic vs. the old and stale.

But even long before Reaganomics "trickle down economics" hit, and AIDS descended, and high tech offered a wholly different vista of The Future, lines drawn geographically had blurred. In 1985, when I found out that I'm HIV+, I left the US and went to live in India. I'd been there twice for fairly long stretches. Now I spent 10 years boomeranging between Europe and Asia, concentrating on my spiritual development since I believed that I was going to die of "the gay plague."

But when protease inhibitors became available in 1995, I moved back to California to avail myself of the medication and to study with a spiritual teacher carrying on the lineage of Ramana Maharshi, the great saint of 20th century India, who lived most of his life in silence. Ten years had passed, years in which I'd accepted Death as natural. And I had grown.

But San Francisco had changed. The tiny city by the Bay was under intolerable pressure from the new world economic engine of Silicon Valley. My once defiantly Bohemian city was now vanishing. Oh, its beautiful landmarks remain, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge and splendid hills. But the character or nature of the place was undergoing irrevocable change.

Growing older, I've seen a great paradox: the upper middle or upper class life I'd tried to get away from in Philadelphia had transplanted itself to move West. Now California boasted its chic wineries and gentrification which translated into minorities being uprooted from San Francisco and forced out. So they left- unable to afford the skyrocketing rents. And "new people" moved in, sometimes apologetic and, aware, somehow, that they weren't the same sort who'd created such a storied place.

One of the most surreal features of this shift was to see the new similarities between east and west coasts. Some of the symbols of white privilege are different here. But there are many ways in which the unfortunate template is maintained or perpetuated. Meanwhile, to my surprise- perhaps I should say "shock" since I had believed that racism had been fairly successfully addressed decades ago, at least on an axiomatic moral level- the ugly beast returned. Or was exposed, just as mean-spirited and vicious as in the days of Jim Crow.

And so, I see a North/South divide again. A nation of police killings. A country, which, still fails to heed the lessons, which Dr. King taught us: that everything we do matters. That every choice has social and political consequences. Violence escalates. The beautiful green parks of San Francisco are going brown. They call it "the new green." But I can't help calling it tragic: the inevitable outgrowth of pollution and environmental ruin, which we (hippies) were protesting in the 60s.

When in India, I was forced to face the Hydra of my own ego and see the ways I create my universe. It's humbling to realize that absolutely no evasion will work; that we must face Truth "as is." Stripped bare, it's frightening, yet liberating, to realize that to acquire more means nothing if we're divorced from our own Self. And yet, even if we manage to center ourselves independent of the pressure to conform and move in lockstep and maintain "groupthink", there is still the reality all around us: a world out of order. A white society still plagued by delusions of Success and its own toxic racism.

Thus, I have gone from the east coast to the west, and then to the East and now back to the West. Strangely, I've seen the east come west as big money follows opportunity to golden California. In doing so, it obliterates the old sense of California being ahead, or out front of, the rest of the nation. After finding myself in India, I returned to see the browning hills of a once-green city; farmlands gone to dust; tinderbox forests burning every summer and no end in sight.

My journey returns me to a personal paradox: the need for peace within even at the risk of closing myself off to exterior upset. But that is what I wanted to get away from; it's why I came to California in 1971- not to shut down but to be open, more engaged. I was blessed. I fulfilled my personal destiny. Still, finding myself numbed by the murders in Charleston, I want to cocoon and tell myself: this can't be happening again. Surely, America must have realized some basic truth by now. Surely, we must have evolved past this sticking point, to be so hemmed in by race. No. Sadly, that is not so. And so I come around the far turn of my life in a different America where East came West, but one in which the North/South divide- socially and politically- still haunts us with the unfulfilled promises of a nation which bled so much so long ago.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Author Adrian Brooks, "Flights of Angels", and "The Right Side of History", book review by Amos Lassen

A lovely review by Amos Lassen, who writes the following:

"With his wonderful prose and writing style, Brooks takes us on an exploration of our history and we go back Edwardian America and to the beginning of the struggle for gay rights in America. Once again, we see how our history is just part of the larger history of civil rights and activism. I first met Adrian Brooks via his book “Flight of Angels” several years ago and I remember being awed by his prose. I am even more awed by this book because it is our story and we are all a part of it. This is a fascinating read that you will go back to time and time again."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Craig Makler... since 1973

Since 1973, writer Adrian Brooks- born Craig Makler in Philadelphia in 1947, has been noteworthy in LGBT culture. From 1966-1972, he volunteered for Martin Luther King; attended the international Quaker school- Friends World Institute; and was in SOHO in NYC, where he knew Andy Warhol. From 1973-1980, Brooks was a poet, novelist and performer/script-writer for San Francisco's iconic free theater, the "Angels of Light", in addition to being a non-fiction writer, a spiritual teacher, activist for Human Rights and a world traveler.

One review of Brooks' theater memoir of his years in the Angels of Light- FLIGHTS OF ANGELS, is on Google. The article to which that (anonymous) reviewer refers- the piece written by John Karr, the porno film critic for San Francisco's "Bay Area Reporter"- can also be Googled. Still more reviews can be found on amazon, in addition to other reviews and Brooks' other published works.

Brooks' most recent book is THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY: 100 Years of LGBTQI Activism.  Published in June 2015 by Cleis Press, it includes a Foreword by Jonathan Katz- formerly the Head of Gay Studies at Yale and features contributions from: Judy Shepard, Barney Frank, Evan Wolfson, Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown, Julie Rhoad (Director of the Names Project); James Gilliam (California Head of the ACLU), and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, one of the transgender heroines of Stonewall, recently honored at the White House with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Adrian Brooks, Author list: THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY

The lineup of the new anthology in THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY- the past 100 year struggle of LGBTQI activists for Human Rights, just published by Cleis is extraordinary. See for yourself.

The Foreword is by Jonathan Katz, former Head of Gay Studies at Yale. The book itself is dedicated to: Bayard Rustin and Josephine Baker. The contributors, supporters, or contributing voices include (in order of appearance): Adrian Brooks, Hayden L. Mora, Eric A. Gordon, Patricia Nell Warren, Anahi Russo Garrido, Charlotte Bunch, Victoria A. Brownworth, Neeli Cherkovski, John d'Emilio, Jean-Claude Baker, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Paul Gabriel, Jeanne Cordova, Max Wolf Valerio, Jack C. Jackson Jr., Merle Woo, Julie Rohoad, Matt Ebert, Tiger Devore, Barney Frank, Brenda Knight, Sultan Shakir, James Gilliam, Evan Wolfson, Angela Dallara, Rita Mae Brown, Mark Segal, Father Daniel Berrigan, David Mixner.

Author Adrian Brooks and "Foreword This Week"

I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Howard Loxy for Foreword This Week. We spoke about my new anthology from Cleis Press: THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY. It includes many of the most out front LGBTQI leaders in the US as contributors, people such as: Barney Frank, Evan Wolfson, Charlotte Bunch, Miss Major Griffin-gracy, Rita Mae Brown, Judy Shephard and has a beautiful foreword by Jonathan Katz, former Head of Gay Studies at Yale. The essential theme is that LGBT people have always been in the forefront of the struggle for Human Rights in this nation and, as such, are true to its founding principles. Beyond the upcoming decision by the Supreme Court on marriage equality, there remain other, vital issues to be addressed: job security and bullying, for example. I'm pleased to have had the chance to speak with Howard Loxy and say that the interview is now online.

Adrian Brooks, Author, and Edie Windsor... Heroine

I'm thrilled to say that Edie Windsor- the heroine who pursued her case of marriage equality to the Supreme Court (and won), has invited me and my partner to be her guests in New York. I can't wait! I asked Edie if she'd like to do an event organized to celebrate THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY- my LGBTQI anthology. An activist friend- Tami Gold, the well known filmmaker has offered to set up a reading. Tami and I went to the same school in the 1960s: Friends World Institute- a Quaker school which became a college- was set up to create social revolutionaries.  It looks like it did a good job!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Author interview with The Matthew Shepard Foundation

Earlier this morning, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Greg Miraglia, one of the Directors of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. This was in conjunction with THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY, my newly released anthology, published by Cleis Press. The book contains my interview with Matthew's mother, Judy Shepard, and the interview with Greg relates to how we can draw attention to- and, hopefully, prevent- the appalling rate of LGBT teen suicide in this country.

The final edited interview will be about 25 minutes.  It will air on June 28 at 8PM on KRCB Radio.  Locally (which means the Bay Area), it’s at 91.1 and 90.9FM and streams worldwide at and   It will be available on-demand starting at 9PM that same day on and outbeatnews on iTunes.

Thank you.