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

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Montgomery Humanists, to the American Huma...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

As we have seen by the recent murders of three nonreligious bloggers—Ananta Bijo...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jennifer Bardi, editor-in-chief of the Humanist magazine, recaps the AHA's 74th...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Prospective Student Webinar this Thursday! Considering the next class of The Hum...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Help the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers represent humanists at this year's...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Pioneer Awardee Isaiah Smith, stands up for separation of church and st...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

A South Carolina court has ruled that prayer in public school graduations doesn'...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Right-wing media loves terrorism stories, so how did they all manage to miss thi...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Omaha Metro Area Humanist Association, a chapter of AHA, is participating in Oma...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist, Becky Garrison sits down with Quiet Company's Taylor...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss the Humanist "Ask Me Anything" session with Kristin Wintermute, Execu...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

We love to see our fellow free-thinkers doing what they can to help out humanity...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

With the number of Christians declining and the unaffiliated rising in the US, w...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Ethical Dilemma: How much would you change for your significant other's beliefs?

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Palm Beach Humanists, to the American Huma...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Bob Diven, AHA celebrant in New Mexico, recently participated in a debate about...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Washington DC does something right, and we aren't talking about the feds!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

On May 13, the AHA joined other members of the National Coalition for Public Edu...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Ethical Dilemma: What to do about a rude house guest. Tell us your experience w...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss the Humanist Institute's upcoming "Ask Me Anything" session with Kris...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

On this week's episode of the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo Bennett interviews singe...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

A very happy 127th birthday to Inge Lehmann, the Danish seismologist and geophys...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do community events like "Draw Mohammad" contests promote freedom of speech or j...

9 days ago