Stephen Wayne Foster

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Stephen Wayne Foster

Stephen Wayne Foster (b. 1943) was an American gay writer and activist. Described as "the leading expert on American boy love poets"[1] by historian William Percy, he was a leader of the gay movement in Miami, Florida, 1972. He was profiled approvingly as a gay historian by South Florida Gay News.[2]

Foster first realized he was gay at age 13. When Foster was 17-years old and in high school, he discovered gay history. "I came across Sir Richard Francis Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights from 1880 which included a very long article about the history of homosexuality." In 1972, along with Barry Spawn, Bob Barry, Bob Basker (one of our testimonies), and Frank Arango, Foster helped create the 'Gay Activists Alliance of Miami', with Foster as the treasurer. GAA-Miami and Foster remained active, filing a class action suit against Miami Beach in 1972, challenging its laws against cross-dressing in public.

By the late seventies, Foster had become a major contributor to the growing field of gay studies. Foster's "introduction as a gay historian" was an essay on Sir Richard Francis Burton. ["The Annotated Burton"] that appeared in the anthology The Gay Academic, edited by Louie Crew [ETC, 1978]. "At the same time I was helping Jonathan Ned Katz write his book Gay American History [Crowell, 1976]. I gave him very significant help." In his groundbreaking book, Katz gave credit to "Foster's inspired research assistance [which] led to the discovery of numbers of important documents." Percy notes that Foster attempted to interest Katz in including the American Uranian poets in the book, but wasn't successful. Percy also archived some letters between Foster and Walter Breen, author of Greek Love.[3]

Though Foster was never a member of the Gay Academic Union, like Warren Johansson he contributed to the GAU's periodical "The Cabirion," aka "Gay Books Bulletin" [1979-85]. Through the efforts of "Cabirion" editor Wayne Dynes, he contributed to the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality [Garland, 1990], articles on such diverse topics as Adelswärd Fersen, Afghanistan, Sir Richard Burton, Ralph Chubb, Charles Fourier, Henry B. Fuller, Robert de Montesquieu, Pirates, Poetry, Travel and Exploration, Edward Perry Warren and Oscar Wilde.

In partnership with Donald Mader, in 1973 Foster reprinted the first anthology of American homosexual literature - Men and Boys: An Anthology (1924) - by Edward Mark Slocum.