Born in York, Pennsylvania, USA. His mother ran a small beauty shop from the front room of the family house. His father was a Scottish immigrant of Welsh descent who worked on assembly lines. The father was an alcoholic who battered both his wife and his children.
Arthur Evans graduated from High School in 1960. He was given a four-year scholarship from the Glatfelter Paper Company in New York to study chemistry at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. While there he and friends formed the Brown Freethinkers Society who described themselves as "militant atheists" with the objective of combating the harmful effects of organised religion. Also during this time he participated in his first political demonstration, a black civil-rights march at the York County House.
Although he had known that he was gay from about the age of ten he remained closeted until he read an article in Life magazine that many homosexuals lived in Greenwich Village, New York. He dropped out of Brown University and moved to Greenwich Village in 1963 and became the lover of Arthur Bell who was to become a columnist for Village Voice. Arthur Evans resumed his studies at City College of New York but switched his major from political science to philosophy. He graduated in 1967 and began a doctoral programme in philosophy in Columbia University where he specialised in Greek philosophy.
He became involved in many anti-war protests during this time. He also felt a powerful effect of the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. He also joined the Student Homophile League founded by Nino Romano. Some weeks after the Stonewall riots in 1969 he and Arthur Bell joined the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Arthur Evans and some friends formed the Radical Study Group to investigate the historical roots of sexism and homophobia (although the word 'homophobia' itself was not coined until 1972 when used by George Weinberg).
On 21st. December 1969 about twelve people met in Arthur Bell's Manhattan apartment and founded the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). Arthur Evans wrote the statement of purposes and much of the constitution. The group spearheaded the practice of 'zaps' which were non-violent actions to face homophobia. Arthur Evans participated in zaps and was often arrested. In November 1970 Arthur Evans and Marty Robinson appeared as guests on the Dick Cavette show, and were the first militant gay activists to appear as guests on national television.
In 1971 Arthur Evans and Arthur Bell had an acrimonious separation. Arthur Bell wrote the book Dancing the Gay Lib Blues which was a critical account of the GAA and included a personal attack on "Paul Cliffman" which was a pseudonym for Arthur Evans. Arthur Evans conceded that he had been self-centred and inconsiderate but denied that he had been dishonest and manipulative. Arthur Evans and Arthur Bell were later reconciled and Arthur Bell regretted the harshness of his attacks.
Early in 1972 Arthur Evans withdrew from Columbia University without submitting his PhD dissertation. He and his new lover Jacob Schraeter, left New York in April 1972 and moved to Seattle and formed the Weird Sisters Partnership and began homesteading in Washington State at a site they named New Sodom.
Arthur Evans continued his research into the historical origins of the counterculture and began publishing his findings in 1973 in the New York gay journal Out, edited by Ernest Cohen. When Out folded the series was continued in the radical underground gay paper Fag Rag. Arthur Evans also wrote articles on political strategy and zapping in the Advocate.
In 1974 Arthur Evans moved to San Francisco after he and Jacob Schraeter found that their settlement had been unsuccessful. In the Autumn of 1975 Arthur Evans formed Faery Circle which combined neo-pagan consciousness, gay sensibility, and ritual play. In 1976 he gave a series of lectures called 'Faeries" and these led to the 'Radical Faeries'. He was also involved with the San Francisco version of the GLF and GAA, the Bay Area Gay Liberation. He was also involved with the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club which later helped elect Harvey Milk. In the late 1970s he distributed a series of leaflets in San Francisco under the name "the Red Queen" and satirised the Castro Clones.
In 1986 he was re-admitted to Columbia University to complete his PhD, but after failing to find anyone to supervise him he decided to publish it himself as a trilogy. The first volume was published as Critique of Patriarchal Reason in 1997.
Arthur Evans has himself been HIV-negative but at the same time very active in AIDS politics in San Francisco. He was arrested twice while campaigning against Burroughs-Wellcome.