Jack Nichols co-founded The Mattachine Society of Washington (1961) and The Mattachine Society of Florida (1965). Starting in 1963, he chaired the Washington Society's Committee on Religious Concerns and initiated the first organized dialogues on America's East Coast between LGBT activists and clergy representing various denominations. The Committee later developed into the Washington Area Council on Religion and the Homosexual which met in the mid-1960s at the American University. In January, 1966, Nichols attended the first meeting in New York City between LGBT activists and religious representatives at the National Council of Churches. Nichols himself is not a member of any church, but instead calls himself a "philosophical child" of Walt Whitman's.
In 1981, Nichols delivered a speech about the movement strategies he has long espoused, a tradition based on the 19th century works of Edward Carpenter and Walt Whitman (www.gaytoday.com/garchive/viewpoint/120197vi.htm). Biographical accounts of Nichols' life can be found in a variety of histories, including Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context, edited by Vern Bullough, Ph.D., R.N., Harrington-Park Press, 2002.
With his long-time comrade, the late Lige Clarke, Nichols co-edited America's first gay weekly newspaper, GAY (published in Manhattan, 1969-1973). Also with Clarke, he co-wrote the very first non-fiction memoir by a male couple: I Have More Fun with You Than Anybody, St. Martin's Press, 1972 (www.gaytoday.com/reviews/031003re.asp), and the first non-fiction collection of letters from gay men seeking advice from the two GAY editors: Roommates Can't Always Be Lovers, St. Martin's Press, 1974, with an introduction by Dr. George Weinberg.
Following Clarke's 1975 murder (he was gunned down at a mysterious roadblock), Nichols' major philosophical work, Men's Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity, dedicated to Clarke, was published in 1975 by Penguin Books (www.gaytoday.com/garchive/viewpoint/073001vi.htm). Nichols also wrote Welcome to Fire Island , St. Martin's Press, 1976. In 1996, Prometheus Books published his polemic, The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists (www.prometheusbooks.com/site/catalog/book_129.html ). On May 25, 2004, Harrington-Park Press (Haworth) is publishing Nichols' uninhibited memoir The Tomcat Chronicles detailing his erotic adventures while hitchhiking across America in the early 1960s (www.haworthpressinc.com/store/product.asp?sku=5038)
Since February, 1997, Nichols has been Senior Editor at www.GayToday.com, a popular online newsmagazine. He lives directly on the ocean in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Nichols died of complications from cancer on May 2, 2005.
(This biographical statement provided by Jack Nichols with death notice added later.)
Biography Date: May, 2004
Gay Spirituality | Council on Religion and the Homosexual | Mattachine Society | Author/editor | Gay Liberation Movement | Nichols, Jack | EXHIBIT Council on Religion and the Homosexual
“Jack Nichols | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed February 26, 2021, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/jack-nichols.
“Jack was a good friend and my mentor. I wrote for him occasionally for Gay Today from 1997 to 2003 when Gay Today ceased publication. His death effected me deeply. After years of seeing the gay civil rights movement fracture into small pieces and lose it's singular momentum toward complete equality I felt I owed it to Jack's memory to start LGBT-Today.com and try to reassemble as many of his original writing staff from Gay Today as I could. As a matter of fact for the last year of his life, Dr. Frank Kameny wrote exclusively for LGBT-Today. We miss him deeply, too.
Jack was an atheist but had a sort of deep inner spirituality about him. He was obsessively curious about everyone's spiritual beliefs. I myself am an ordained Wiccan High Priestess and he would spend hours picking my brain to understand what Wicca was all about. I loaned him books and he read about it and found it fascinating. Before Jack died he left a mostly-finished autobiographical manuscript with author Paul D. Cain that he decided to give up on in favor of Louis Campbell's biography of him. Paul Cain and I are joining forces to try and get this autobiography under the present working title of O Captain! My Captain! The Posthumous Autobiography of Jack Nichols (with a little help from Paul D. Cain and Stephanie Donald) printed sometime this year. Thank you so much for the opportunity to remember Jack. He was an incredible man that I was honored to have known.”
– as remembered by Stephanie Donald on January, 2012
Know Jack Nichols? Tell us your experience.
(All entries are reviewed by the LGBT-RAN office before posting.)