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Gay History – July 23, 1909: The Secret Gay Historian Samuel Steward (aka Phil Andros) Born

Samuel Steward

Legendary  poet, novelist, and university professor Samuel Morris Steward also known as Phil Andros  and Phil Sparrow was born on this day in Woodsfield, Ohio.  

Born into a Methodist household, Steward converted to Catholicism during his university years, but by the time he accepted his teaching position at Loyola University he had long since abandoned the Catholic Church.

Steward led one of the most extraordinary (and unknown) gay  lives of the twentieth century.  Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail.  He was also was an intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder,

After leaving the world of academe to become Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicago’s notorious South State Street, Steward met famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in late 1949 and subsequently became an unofficial collaborator with Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research. During his years of work with the Institute, Steward collected and donated sexually themed materials to the Kinsey archive, gave Kinsey access to his lifelong sexual records, introduced him to large numbers of sexually active men in the Chicago area, and provided him with large numbers of early sex Polaroid photographs which he took during the frequent all-male sex parties he held in his Chicago apartment. He also allowed Kinsey to take detailed photographs of that sexually-themed apartment. He ultimately donated a large numbers of drawings, paintings and decorative objects that he himself had created to the Institute.

In spring of 1950, at Kinsey’s invitation, he was filmed engaging in BDSM sex with Mike Miksche, an erotic artist from New York also known as Steve Masters.

After Gertrude Stein, Kinsey was Steward’s most important mentor; he later described Kinsey not only “as approachable as a park bench” but also as a god-like bringer of enlightenment to mankind, thus giving him the nickname, “Doctor Prometheus.”

During the early 1960s, Steward changed his name and identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat pro-homosexual pornography under the name of Phil Andros.  Initially he wrote for the Danish magazine Eos/Amigo. Some of his early works described his fascination with rough trade and sadomasochistic sex; others focused on the power dynamics of interracial sexual encounters between men. In 1966, thanks to changes in American publishing laws, he was able to publish his story collection Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade""“>Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade” states so eloquently:  “He paid the price for being himself, but at least he got to be himself.”

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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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1 thought on “Gay History – July 23, 1909: The Secret Gay Historian Samuel Steward (aka Phil Andros) Born”

  1. Great article and glad to see Sammy remembered. I discovered his porn writing in 1978 and became an enthusiastic reader of his. I find most porn pretty boring, but Sammy’s literary background made his books very readable.
    After my first exposure to his books, I then discovered his more mainstream literature, including his correspondence with Gertrude Stein (collected in “Love, Sammy”) and Alice B. Toklas. Last year, I found a copy of “Secret Historian,” which I love.

    Thanks for this remembrance of Steward. He was truly a pioneer and, in my opinion, a better writer than John Rechy.

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