Freethought of the Day

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There are 1 entries for this date: John Rechy
John Rechy

John Rechy

On this date in 1931, American writer and critic John Francisco Rechy was born in El Paso, Texas, to Guadalupe (née Flores) and Roberto Sixto Rechy. He earned a B.A. in English from Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso), where he edited the school paper. He enlisted in the U.S. Army but was granted an early release to enroll at Columbia University.

Rechy’s novels and essays often documented gay culture. His first novel, City of Night (1963), a largely autobiographical account of the travels of a young hustler, included a description of the Cooper Do-nuts Riot of 1959 in L.A. when LGBTQ community members pelted police with coffee cups and doughnuts to protest ongoing harassment of gays. City of Night became an international best-seller. The Doors incorporated the title in their 1971 song "L.A. Woman." Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” paid homage to its transgender street hustlers.

Rechy has written a dozen novels to date and has had essays and reviews published in The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, The Village Voice, The New York Times, Evergreen Review and Saturday Review. He has taught creative writing at Occidental College, the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

Rechy was the first novelist to receive PEN-USA-West's Lifetime Achievement Award (1997) and has received numerous other writing awards. In October 2019 he was the recipient of the UCLA Medal, the university's highest honor.

“I dislike religion very much, Christianity in particular (especially Catholicism, which is what I was born into), and find it mean and dangerous — and hypocritical about sex.”

—Rechy, Los Angeles Review of Books (Jan. 17, 2015)

Compiled by Paul Epland

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