As a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam, Brian McNaught began his alternative service in 1970 at The Michigan Catholic, weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He worked there as a reporter, columnist, and as an occasional television talk show host. His popular, award-winning, youth-oriented column prompted speaking engagements at local high schools.
When he came out in 1974 after founding the Detroit chapter of Dignity, the organization of gay Catholics, his column was immediately dropped by the newspaper. This resulted in a nationally-covered civil rights battle during which Brian engaged in a hunger fast to call attention to the plight of gay Catholics. The water fast ended after seventeen days when two bishops in Detroit publicly pledged to work to educate the clergy on gay issues. Brian was subsequently fired by the newspaper for his protest.
A syndicated column in the gay press led to the publication by Dignity Inc. of Brian's first book, A Disturbed Peace - Selected Writings of an Irish Catholic Homosexual. This early primer on reconciling sexual orientation and spirituality became a popular "coming out" book and evolved into On Being Gay, which is still in print and is used as a college text. Both titles contain the essay, "The Sad Dilemma of the Gay Catholic," which won "Best Magazine Article of the Year" from the Catholic Press Association.
In 1976, Brian moved from Detroit to Boston where he joined the national office of Dignity and served as the organization's director of social action. In that capacity, he represented gay Catholics at the Call to Action Conference, a bicentennial hearing of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on social justice. He successfully lobbied there for passage by the 1,300 delegates of a variety of pro-gay measures that were later dismissed by the bishops.
In 1982, Brian was hired as the Mayor of Boston's liaison to the gay and lesbian community. In that capacity, he initiated and coordinated the city's response to the AIDS epidemic, conducted a citywide study of constituent needs, and trained police, health, and other service providers. He served in that position for two years.
Named "the godfather of gay sensitivity training" by The New York Times, Brian is now considered the country's leading corporate diversity consultant dealing with gay issues in the workplace. Certified as a sexuality educator, he has addressed hundreds of corporate and university audiences throughout North American and Great Britain.
Brian is the author of four books, including Gay Issues in the Workplace and Now That I'm Out, What Do I Do? He is featured in five educational videos, three of which have been aired regularly by PBS stations. He hosts a radio program in Provincetown, MA, where he lives seasonally with his partner since 1976, Ray Struble. Brian and Ray were married in Ottawa, Ontario on June 30, 2003.
Brian McNaught's papers are held by Cornell University's Human Sexuality Archive.