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Gay History – March 12: Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac the Bisexual King of the Beat Generation

“The only people for me are the mad ones: the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who… burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles.” – Jack Kerouac

JACK KEROUAC, (born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kéroua) was an American writer, novelist, poet and artist. Along with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, he is among the best known of the writers (and friends) known as the Beat Generation.

Kerouac was never labeled homosexual, nor he did publicly self-identify as one. However it is believed that he had homosexual encounters although they were occasional. Kerouac in his letters exchanged with Allen Ginsberg questions his sexual identity, but at the same time he was not in a great favor of homosexuals. Kerouac, in his novel cites several instances of his road companion Neal Cassady’s bisexuality, and it is difficult to hide his attraction towards him. About Neal Cassady, he wrote: “With the coming of Neal there really began for me that part of my life you could call my life on the road…”

Kerouac had three wives in his life and preferred heterosexual relationships with female partners, but many of the letters shows that he had occasional homosexual encounters whether there were a intercourse or not. The famous story of Jack Kerouac had an intercourse with Gore Vidal, which insists Vidal, is an widely known story, although according to William Burroughs it is not true since Vidal was a ‘liar.’(Paul Maher Jr., , 2007).

Kerouac is recognized for his style of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as his Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.

Jack Kerouac and his literary works had a major impact on the popular rock music of the 1960s. Artists including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, The Grateful Dead, and The Doors all credit Kerouac as a signifi cant influence on their music and lifestyles. This is especially so with members of the band The Doors, Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek who quote Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road as one of the band’s greatest influences.

In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking. Since his death, Kerouac’s literary prestige has grown, and several previously unseen works have been published.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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