Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gay Rights Pioneer Aristide Laurent Dies

Sad news, Aristide ‘A.J.’ Laurent, a pioneer of our gay rights movement & a founder of The Advocate newspaper died at his home in Los Angeles after a long illness he was 70. Laurent helped start The Los Angeles Advocate in 1967, working alongside Richard Mitch (Dick Michaels), Bill Rau & Sam Allen, who had taken over the Pride newsletter & renamed it. Laurent, then working at ABC Television with Rau & Allen, helped produce early issues of The Advocate in the studio’s basement print shop & wrote a nightlife column (“Mariposas de la Noche”) under the name “P. Nutz.” Those were the days that everyone on the paper used pseudonyms, he noted. “It was dangerous to be a ‘pervert’ prior to the liberation movement. You didn’t use your real name for fear of reprisals, not only harassment by the LAPD but the ever-present possibility of losing your day job, family and friends,” he wrote in 2007 marking the publication’s 40th anniversary. Services will be held at St. John’s Catholic Church in Magnolia Springs, Ala., Nov. 5th Memorial contributions may be sent to:
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1 Comments:

Anonymous Rob Wray said...

Laurent was at the forefront of many marches and several causes, including the antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s. In 1967 he participated in pre-Stonewall “Black Cat” protests against police harassment of gays. He was one of the founders of The Advocate newspaper. In the 1980s, he was part of the ACT UP movement that fought indifference to the AIDS crisis. In 1993, he attended the historic gay march on Washington. But it was an act of charity that got him in trouble with the Los Angeles Police Department.

In 1975 Laurent was one of 40 arrested during a charity “slave auction” benefiting the Gay Community Services Center held at the Mark IV Bathhouse in Hollywood. The raid, which deployed more than 100 officers and cost a reputed $150,000, became a public relations disaster for the police and a rallying point for the gay community. Felony slavery charges against those arrested were later dismissed.

He spent his final months in hospice care with several caretakers and “my loyal band of crazy friends.” In his final letter, he wrote, “If you are reading this I’m dead. Deader, as the saying goes, than vaudeville. But don’t feel sorry for me, I’ve had a truly blessed life.”

October 30, 2011 at 7:56 AM  

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