AHA News |  

Remembering Gore Vidal: A Masterful Humanist Voice


American Humanist Association honorary president forced us to look at our prejudices

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Magee, 202-238-9088 ex 105, bmagee@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, DC - Aug. 1, 2012) - The death of Gore Vidal on July 31, 2012 at the age of 86 has humanists mourning the loss of perhaps American’s best known public intellectual. As honorary president of the American Humanist Association since 2009, Vidal added an enthusiastic, progressive and dynamic voice to the AHA and the humanist movement.

“The progressive and humanist values Gore Vidal repeatedly espoused moved the culture in a positive direction,” said David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. “He spent his life pointing out the places in society that needed the most attention without worrying who might be embarrassed or upset by his opinions.”

He’s been called an iconoclast, a provocateur, and a misanthrope,” said Humanist magazine editor Jennifer Bardi. “And of course Gore occasionally said things that gave humanists pause. But he was forever dedicated to the cause of enlightenment and exposed injustice and hypocrisy at every turn."

Vidal succeeded Kurt Vonnegut as the AHA’s honorary president, saying he would be “most honored to succeed my old friend as honorary president of the Association: Although he himself is hardly easy to replace, I will do my best to fill the great gap.” A seven-part video interview featuring Vidal can be seen here.

The targets of Vidal’s criticism included the Religious Right, American expansionism, political changes done for “national security,” and the military-industrial complex, among others items. His advocacy for individual liberty, separation of church and state, and reason and rationality embodies the mission of the American Humanist Association.

Vidal first made a name for himself with the 1948 publication of The City and the Pillar, a book that created turmoil because its main character is openly gay without also being seen as unnatural. He was forced to write several subsequent novels using a pseudonym because reviewers and advertising outlets blacklisted him.

In 1969, Vidal wrote in Esquire, “…homosexuality is a constant fact of the human condition and it is not a sickness, not a sin, not a crime . . . despite the best efforts of our puritan tribe to make it all three. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Notice I use the word 'natural,' not normal."

At first known for his novels, he later became known as one of the greatest essayists of the twentieth century.

In 1950 Vidal met his long-term partner Howard Austen, who died in 2003.

While Vidal was seen as one of the early champions of sexual liberation, he was also politically active in many areas. In 1960 he launched an unsuccessful campaign for New York’s 29th congressional district seat, and in 1982 he failed to unseat California Gov. Jerry Brown

###

The American Humanist Association (www.AmericanHumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, its work is extended through more than 150 local chapters and affiliates across America. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.


Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

American Humanist Association

Washington Post illustration by Herblock from 1963. Still an unsettled issue......

8 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Our lawsuit challenging 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance is trending on F...

9 hours ago

American Humanist Association

A major newspaper in New Jersey. The Star-Ledger, published an editorial in supp...

12 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Did you catch Roy Speckhardt's interview on Fox and Friends this morning? Watch...

13 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss it! AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt will be on Fox and Friends...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Pledge of Allegiance without the use of "Under God" did not cause harm to t...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Great News! Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island just issued a proclamation r...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

A great video for Earth Day! Isaac Asimov discusses saving the planet for future...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Responding to reporters this morning as the AHA's latest case gets national atte...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Lots of press coverage this morning on our New Jersey lawsuit challenging 'under...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Earth Day Everyone! Be kind to your Earth. It's where you live!

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to Ventura County, California for now officially recognizing May...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Taken from a 1940's Justice Society Of America comic before "Under God" was adde...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association has filed lawsuit against “Under God” in the P...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The 2014 American Atheists Conference was awesome! Check out pictures of the Ame...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Poll! http://thehumanist.com/arts_entertainment/culture/your-humanist-...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Announcing our 2014 AHA Annual Conference Keynote Speaker, Professor Max Tegmark...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you had this problem? The Ethical Dilemma: My Son Sends Me E-Mails Signed...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hurry! Going to the AHA annual conference in Philly? May 5th is the last day to...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Rules Are for Schmucks: Darwin Award Nominee by Luis Granados. http://thehumani...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Cartoon History of Humanism Episode Three: The Archpoet, 12th-Century Gang...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! The January/February, 1989 issue of the Humanist magazine...

6 days ago