By Jackie Adkins
Hugh Hefner may have been the hero to straight men everywhere, but the Playboy magnate championed gay rights from very early on.
The founder of Playboy magazine died at 91, it was announced today (28 September). But what you might not know about the bathrobed lover of women was how he struck against conservatism in 1950s America.
Charles Beaumont, author, had written a science-fiction short story that depicted a world where straight people were in the minority and gay people were the majority. Esquire, including many other magazines, rejected it. However, Hefner accepted the piece and published it in a 1955 edition of Playboy, then a relatively new publication.
After letters of outrage of Beaumont’s The Crooked Man flooded the Playboy offices, Hefner stood his ground. ‘If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society,’ he said in response, ‘then the reverse was wrong, too.’ Hefner continued to fight for rights of gay people, fighting against Republicans who wished to discriminate against them on religious grounds.
‘Without [marriage equality], we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time,’ he predicted in a Politico piece in 2012. Hefner: ‘The idea that the concept of marriage will be sullied by same-sex marriage is ridiculous.’
‘Today, in every instance of sexual rights falling under attack, you’ll find legislation forced into place by people who practice discrimination disguised as religious freedom. Their goal is to dehumanize everyone’s sexuality and reduce us to using sex for the sole purpose of perpetuating our species. To that end, they will criminalize your entire sex life.’
And also in 2009, he said the idea of two men or two women getting married wouldn’t hurt anyone. ‘Without question, love in its various permutations is what we need more of in this world,’ he said. ‘The idea that the concept of marriage will be sullied by same-sex marriage is ridiculous. Heterosexuals haven’t been doing that well at it on their own.’