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