Brian McNaught is an award-winning writer and an internationally acclaimed corporate diversity trainer. His five books in print are used as college texts. He speaks globally to senior managers on gay and transgender issues.
Brian is the middle child of seven Irish Catholics, born in Detroit, and raised in Flint, Grand Blanc, and Birmingham, Michigan. He is the product of sixteen years of Catholic education, having graduated from Brother Rice High School in Birmingham and Marquette University in Milwaukee. Wisconsin. His degree is in journalism. Brian was an altar boy, patrol boy, and Boy Scout. He studied briefly as a postulant with the Christian Brothers of Ireland.
As a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam, Brian began his alternative service in 1970 at The Michigan Catholic, weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He worked there as a reporter, columnist, and as an occasional television talk show host. His popular, award-winning, youth-oriented column prompted speaking engagements at local Catholic high schools. When he came out in 1974 after founding the Detroit chapter of Dignity, the organization of gay Catholics, his column was immediately dropped by the newspaper. This resulted in a nationally-covered civil rights battle during which Brian engaged in a hunger fast to call attention to the plight of gay Catholics. The water fast ended after seventeen days when two bishops in Detroit publicly pledged to work to educate the clergy on gay issues. “…we have a serious obligation to root out structures and attitudes that discriminate against the homosexual as a person,” Bishops Thomas Gumbleton and Joseph Imesch wrote in a letter to Brian. Yet, he was nevertheless fired by the newspaper for his public protest.
A twelve-year syndicated column in the gay press led to the publication by Dignity Inc. of Brian’s first book, A Disturbed Peace - Selected Writings of an Irish Catholic Homosexual. This early primer on reconciling sexual orientation and spirituality became a popular coming out book, and evolved into On Being Gay, (St. Martin’s Press) which is still in print and is used as a college text. Both titles contain the essay, “The Sad Dilemma of the Gay Catholic,” which won “Best Magazine Article of the Year” from the Catholic Press Association. The newer edition includes “Dear Anita, Late Night Thoughts of an Irish Catholic Homosexual.” This open letter to the well-known leader of the anti-gay movement in the late 1970s prompted a television debate between Brian and Anita Bryant Ministries in 1978.
In 1976, Brian moved from Detroit to Boston where he joined the national office of Dignity and served as the organization’s director of social action. In that capacity, he represented gay Catholics at the historic Call to Action Conference, a bicentennial hearing of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on social justice. He successfully lobbied there for passage by the 1300 delegates of a variety of pro-gay measures that were later dismissed by the bishops.
In 1982, Brian was hired as the Mayor of Boston’s liaison to the gay and lesbian community. In that capacity, he initiated and coordinated the city’s response to the AIDS epidemic, conducted a citywide study of LGBT citizens needs, and trained police, health, and other service providers. He served in that groundbreaking position for two years.
Named “The godfather of gay sensitivity training” by The New York Times, Brian is now considered the world’s leading corporate diversity consultant dealing with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues in the workplace. Certified as a sexuality educator, he has addressed hundreds of corporate and university audiences throughout North American, Europe, and Asia.
Brian is the author of six books, including Gay Issues in the Workplace and Now That I’m Out, What Do I Do? (St. Martin’s Press,) “Sex Camp,” and “Are You Guys Brothers?” (Author House.) He is featured in seven educational videos/DVDs, three of which have been aired regularly by PBS stations. His most recent training film is “Anyone can be an Ally: Speaking Up for an LGBT Inclusive Workplace.” All of the DVDs are used extensively in corporations, schools, and other professional settings.
In 2012, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates gave Brian a lifetime achievement award for his pioneering work as an educator on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.
Brian and his spouse Ray Struble have been partners since 1976. They were married in Ottawa, Ontario on June 30, 2003.
Brian McNaught’s papers are held by Cornell University’s Human Sexuality Archive.
(This biographical statement provided by Brian McNaught.)
Biography Date: October, 2003
An interview with Brian was recorded by Steven Dansky for the Outspoken Project and can be viewed here: https://www.outspoken-lgbtq.org/interviews-c21aq
All of Brian McNaught's books can now be downloaded for free from this page on his website:
Catholic (Roman) | Dignity | Activist (church change) | Author/editor | McNaught, Brian | Bryant, Anita