In Remembrance: Peter Burton

On November 10th, Peter Burton, writer, editor and trailblazer in the field of gay journalism, died after he was believed to have suffered a heart attack.  He was 66.

Born in 1945 in London, England, Burton wrote, edited, or contributed to over twenty books, including six anthologies, three of which were nominated for Lambda Literary awards. His books include: A Casualty of War (2009), What Love Is, published earlier this year, two volumes of memoirs, Parallel Lives (Gay Men’s Press, 1985) and Amongst the Aliens: Some Aspects of a Gay Life (Millivres, 1995), and A Life On the Town, an authorized biography of Rod Stewart.

While a prolific writer and editor of books, Burton was principally noted for being at the forefront of the gay journalism movement in England.

Speaking to, in January, Burton stated, “…I had been there from the very beginning—the moment when the gay press burst out of its shell to publish openly and legally.”

Starting in the 1960s, Burton wrote for Spartacus and Jeremy, two of the UK’s first gay magazines.

In the 1970s, Burton began working at the Gay News, eventually becoming the broadsheet’s literary editor. It was during Burton’s tenure that Gay News published James Kirkup’s notorious poem “The Love That Dares to Speak its Name,” a poem about a Roman centurion who sodomizes the body of Christ after its removal from the cross. When Gay News closed in the early 1980s, Burton was hired as the literary and features editor at Gay Times. Burton remained at the Gay Times until 2003.

His partner Ian predeceased him. Burton is survived by his sister Pamela.

Gary Pulsifer, the founder of Arcadia Books,  provided this lovely piece about Burton in The Guardian.

[via The Guardian]


Photo by Mark Vessey