Owner of Calamus Bookstore, author, revolutionary
Nationally renowned bookstore owner and activist John Mitzel died in his sleep on October 4, from complications resulting from cancer treatments. Mitzel owned and operated Calamus Bookstore and managed the now closed Glad Day Bookshop, both in Boston. He was a fixture in the Boston LGBTQ communities for over forty years and is one of the founders of the tradition of queer radical publications.
The fall after the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Mitzel attended Boston University and connected with other gay and lesbian students who were active in the early gay rights groups. In an interview posted on Vimeo, Mitzel and the others decided to publish a newspaper in 1971, Lavender Vision. The publication was targeted and produced by both men and women, but the women wanted to publish a newspaper for and by women only. Mitzel and the men responded in kind. Fag Rag, named by Mitzel, hit the streets quarterly starting in 1971 and published for about 10 years.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mitzel arrived in Boston in 1965 after leaving home after his mother institutionalized him to cure him of his homosexuality.
Mitzel was associated with many firsts – he was also one of the organizers of Boston’s first Gay Pride March; he was a projectionist at the South Station Cinema, the first gay porn movie house in Boston.
Glad Day bookstore closed in 2000 and Mitzel opened Calamus. Calamus is one of the few LGBTQ bookstores left in the country.
As an author, Mitzel published several books: Last Gleamings, Boston Sex Scandal, Doubly Crost, Inferno Heights, Some Poems.
Friday, October 11 at 7 p.m. there will be a memorial service at Calamus Bookstore, 92 South Street by South Station, to honor the life of John Mitzel.
Watch the Fag Rag interviews here http://vimeo.com/fagrag/videos