(February 13, 1922 - March 28, 1995) U.S.A.
Writer, novelist, playwright, and essayist
In the early 1950s, a dramatic new era dawned in Gay literature. Eschewing the stereotypical images of Gays in both literature and life, James Barr (pseudonym of James Fugaté) produced three major works of literature that heralded a new paradigm for Gays in America. The homosexual characters in his works did not led lives of depravity that were doomed to failure, suicide, murder, or worst.
Barr set out to prove that Gays could lead normal lives, that they could fall in love with and be loved by other men without a tinge of self hatred or loathing or of calling down divine retribution. Revolutionary by any standard (this was the first time a unapologetic gay had appeared in any publicly printed novel), Barr's characters also refuted the image of Gays as effete sissies-prancing about as Oscar Wildes in New York night clubs. Instead, Barr's characters reflect a deep rooted masculinity that is self assured, rooted in the age old affirmation of male pride and will.
This concept of the unabashed homosexual militant (an honest, open, unapologetic and down to earth persona) reflected Barr's own life in rural Kansas. He saw his closest Gay friend commit suicide because of homophobic panic and terror and had to deal with the same from his own family. He had had sex with farm boys, construction workers, married men, and men in uniform and knew the truth behind America's hetrosexual pieties. He proclaim a new identity for himself and other Gay men. He had the courage to tell the truth.
Although ignored by straight reviewers, Barr's works impressed a number of specialists in Gay literature. Professor Samuel Steward called Barr's first novel one of the most important Gay novels of the century and Paul Austen also cited it as one of the most intelligent American Gay novel ever written. Barr's novels, short stories, and his play, The Game of Fools, were very popular in their day and even now continue to garner new readers. Quatrefoil, his first novel, went through at least 3 initial printings and numerous paperback printings and was reissued twice by Alyson books-once in 1982 and again in 1991. Obviously, his message has been and continues to be resonant among the Gay community.
- Quatrefoil (New York, Greenburg, 1950)
- Derricks (New York, Greenburg, 1951)
- Game Of Fools (play - LA, One Incorporated, 1957)