Arnie Kantrowitz: Gentle and Fierce Avatar of Conscience and Kindness

Arnie Kantrowitz (left) and Larry Mass. Gay Pride 2019, the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Photo by Fred Orlansky
Under The Rainbow, 1977. Republished with a new Preface in 1996 by St. Martin’s Press, Stonewall Inn Classics
Larry Mass (left) and Vito Russo (right) with Arnie Kantrowitz, from the personal photos of Larry Mass
photo by Larry Mass
from Arnie’s wall of images
Arnie Kantrowitz (right) with Gay Activists Alliance Candlelight March, June 24, 1971; NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Arnie’s copy of the novel, Last Of The Just, by Andre Schwartz-Bart
Protester Arnie Kantrowitz chased by mounted policeman, NYPL Archives, 1971
from a protest flier issued by Arnie Kantrowitz and others, and in association with The Calamus Soceity, at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Dedication, Hungtington, Long Island, May 31, 1997

Stop Insulting America’s Intelligence. Give us the real Walt Whitman in all his glory. How would you feel if no one mentioned that
Walt was an American because his poetry belongs to the world?
It’s time to tell the truth. Walt Whitman was gay.
WE DEMAND that the new installation at this New York
State historical site be revised to represent the truth of
Whitman’s gay life. This must be done in consultation with lesbian/gay scholars.

To place Arnie and his gay activism in broader perspective, think not of Michel Foucault and queer theory so much as of Walt Whitman and Gay Liberation. Towards the end of his life, Arnie became evermore “short-spoken,” as I called it. Though still trenchant in observation and opinion, he spoke less and less. But when he did speak, he was as he had always been — plain-spoken, still something of an anomaly in intellectual discourses.

A framed image of Walt Whitman, placed so that his gaze met Arnie’s whenever Arnie sat at his desk.
trophy professor

“The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.”

― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Arnie joins his wall of images



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