This is what Playboy founder Hugh Hefner thought about AIDS and gay rights

Hugh Hefner attends Playboy's 2013 Playmate Of The Year lunch

Hugh Hefner has died at the age of 91, and the Playboy founder is being heralded as a kitsch – if certainly problematic – heterosexual icon.

While any celebration of Hefner should be tempered, given allegations of manipulation from his ex-partner Holly Madison, his contribution in the fight for civil rights, including LGBT rights, should also be acknowledged.

CANNES, FRANCE:  Playboy magazine president Hugh Hefner (C) poses with playmates 14 May 1999 on the steps of the Palais des Festivals before the screening of their movie "Entrapment" in selection for the 52nd Cannes Film Festival. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)


As well as naked pictures of women, Playboy often published short stories from significant authors, including science fiction masters.

One such story published in the 1955 – The Crooked Man by Charles Beaumont – explored the idea of heterosexuals being persecuted in a society dominated by homosexuals.

Hugh Hefner poses at Playboy's 60th Anniversary special event

Hugh Hefner poses at Playboy’s 60th Anniversary special event (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)

The story sparked a backlash, but Hefner said in response: “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society, then the reverse was wrong too.”

He said years later that Esquire had turned down the story before Playboy opted to publish it.

As a swinger in the 1960s, Hefner himself experimented in bisexuality and once said: “Without question, love in its various permutations is what we need more of in this world.”

5th September 1969:  Hugh Hefner, head of the Playboy Clubs on a visit to his London club in Park Lane, London. With him is his 19 year old girl friend Barbara Benton and a group of Bunny Girls.  (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)


For Hefner, a celebration of sexuality meant a celebration of all types of sexuality, and suppression of LGBT rights was a suppression of the sexual revolution that he fought for.

In 2012, Hefner wrote an editorial in the September issue of Playboy outlining his support for same-sex marriage.

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