Carl Wittman
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Carl Wittman

Carl Wittman (February 23, 1943 - January 22, 1986) was a member of the national council of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later an activist for LGBT rights. He co-authored "An Interracial Movement of the Poor?" (1963) [1] with Tom Hayden and wrote "A Gay Manifesto" [2] (1970). Wittman declined hospital treatment for AIDS and committed suicide by drug overdose at home in North Carolina.[3]

Early activism

In 1960, Wittman entered Swarthmore College where he became a student activist. Wittman spent summers doing civil rights work in the South, and joined the national council of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1966, after becoming disillusioned with homophobia in the New Left, Wittman left SDS. Wittman married Mimi Feingold the same year.[3]

In 1967, Wittman moved to San Francisco with Feingold where they lived with other activists in an anti-draft commune. Wittman turned in his draft card to the Oakland Induction Center in October 1967 during Stop the Draft Week.

Gay activism

Wittman, while self-identified as gay since the age of 14, remained closeted until coming out in the late 1960s in an article, "Waves of Resistance," published in the November, 1968 issue of the antiwar magazine, Liberation.[4][5]

In 1969, Wittman wrote Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto published by The Red Butterfly cell of the Gay Liberation Front January 1970.[2] It is considered one of the most influential gay liberation writings of the 1970s.

Exclusive heterosexuality is fucked up. It reflects a fear of people of the same sex, it's anti-homosexual, and it is fraught with frustration. Heterosexual sex is fucked up too; ask women's liberation about what straight guys are like in bed. Sex is aggression for the male chauvinist; sex is obligation for the traditional woman.

-- Amerika: A Gay Manifesto I.3[6]

In 1971, Wittman moved to Wolf Creek, Oregon with his then-partner, Stevens McClave. Two years later, he began a long-term relationship with a fellow war resister, Allan Troxler, a conscientious objector.

In the early 1980s, Wittman created the North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project (LGHP) with David Jolly, Timmer McBride, and Aida Wakil to address the health needs of sexual minorities in that state.[7]

Posthumous recognition

Carl Wittman was recognized as a Main Honoree by the Sesquicentennial Honors Commission at the Durham 150 Closing Ceremony in Durham, NC on November 2, 2019. The posthumous recognition was bestowed upon 29 individuals "whose dedication, accomplishments and passion have helped shape Durham in important ways."[8]


  1. ^ Hayden, Tom and Wittmann, Carl Students for a Democratic Society Archive Wisconsin State Historical Society (1963) Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Wittman, Carl A Gay Manifesto A Red Butterfly Publication, New York. (1970) Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Highleyman, Liz. "Who was Carl Wittman?". Seattle Gay News. Archived from the original on April 22, 2017. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ Wittman, Carl. Waves of Resistance Synergy Magazine Vol 13-30, San Francisco Public Library. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  5. ^ Wittman, Carl. Waves of Resistance pg. 29-33 Liberation, New York. (1968) Retrieved August 2, 2011[dead link]
  6. ^ Wittman, Carl (1969). Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifeso. San Francisco: San Francisco Free Press.
  7. ^ Lekus, Ian K. "Health care, the AIDS crisis, and the politics of community: The North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project, 1982-1996." Modern American Queer History Allida Black (ed). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2001.
  8. ^ Durham 150 (2019-11-02). Durham 150 Closing Ceremony Program.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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