Once in the city, Whitmore found employment as an editorial and administrative assistant at two non-profit agencies, Planned Parenthood (1968-1972) and the Citizens Housing and Planning Council of New York (1972-1981); both positions gave him experience in writing copy, reviewing books, and turning out concise feature articles under deadline. Concurrently, Whitmore maintained a parallel career as a freelance writer, reporter, and critic for several gay periodicals including The Body Politic, Christopher Street, Gay Sunshine, and Gaysweek, as well as serving as contributing editor and literary critic at the San Francisco Advocate from 1974 to 1976. In addition, he wrote on topics of interest to the gay community for other magazines such as the Soho Weekly News, Harper's Weekly, and the Washington Post Book World. His book-length study of Henry David Thoreau was published by the Gay Academic Union in 1977-1978.
George Whitmore at the World's Fair, 1987, by Robert Giard
George Whitmore was a poet, playwright, critic, novelist, and freelance writer. He was a member of the Violet Quill with Christopher Cox, Michael Grumley and Robert Ferro, Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano and Edmund White. He met his partner Michael Canter in 1984 and after 6 months, George was diagnosed with HIV. “I miss the brave books I‘m sure he would have written. But I miss his humor and his penetrating smile more. I miss his phone calls. The missing never stops.” Victor Bumbalo.
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Whitmore also worked in fiction throughout his life, composing poetry and short stories that were published in both gay and straight periodicals, as well as issued under his own imprint, the Free Milk Fund Press, which was headquartered in his Upper West Side apartment. He received a New York State CAPS grant for poetry in 1976, and regularly presented his poems at public readings during the 1970s and early 1980s. Three of Whitmore's plays were produced in New York: The Caseworker (1976), Two Plays for Three Women: Flight/The Legacy (1979), and The Rights (1980), and three of his novels were also published there: The Confessions of Danny Slocum (1980), Deep Dish (serialized between 1980 and 1982), and Nebraska (1987). The latter, loosely based on Whitmore's childhood memories, was developed from an earlier unproduced play and written during his residencies at the Edward Albee Foundation (1983) and the MacDowell Colony (1985). Whitmore was a member of a literary group known as the Violet Quill, whose seven authors, as men creating literature for men, are regarded as the strongest voices of the gay male experience in the post-Stonewall era. Christopher Cox, Robert Ferro, Michael Grumley, Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, Edmund White, and Whitmore met several times in 1979, 1980, and 1981, to read aloud from and discuss their works in progress, as well as those by their friends. Also on their agenda were discussions of how they could work together to promote recognition, acceptance, and publication of gay literature beyond the boundaries of their own community.
In the 1980s, Whitmore worked as a freelance reporter and features writer for popular magazines and newspapers including Travel and Leisure, House and Garden, House Beautiful, and the New York Times; his specialty was covering people, places, and events connected with art, design, and architecture. At the same time, his personal and professional communities were rapidly being overtaken by the shadow of the AIDS epidemic, as gay male friends and colleagues around him began to sicken and die. Whitmore's response was perhaps his most important contribution to non-fiction literature: three interrelated articles and one book that focused on human face of AIDS. Relying on his reporting skills and journalism contacts, he fashioned the first article for a general public already frightened by rising morbidity statistics: "Reaching Out to Someone with AIDS," a profile of the daily life of an AIDS patient and his volunteer advocate, appeared in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday, May 19, 1985, some months before President Ronald Reagan publicly acknowledged the disease. A second article, "Someone Was Here," ran in GQ the next year. Whitmore reused the title for his 1988 book, Someone Was Here: Profiles in the AIDS Epidemic, which expanded on his Times article by looking at the lives of patients' families and medical professionals as well as the patients themselves, thereby emphasizing the toll of the disease on both the heterosexual and homosexual populations. The book's epilogue was published in advance in the January 31, 1988, issue of The New York Times Magazine. In that essay, "Bearing Witness," Whitmore revealed that he too was a victim of AIDS, having been diagnosed a year after the publication of his "Reaching Out" article. He was 43 years old when he died in New York on April 19, 1989, from AIDS-related complications.
George was living with AIDS. It should be remembered that he sued the Northern Dispensary, a Greenwich Village clinic, after it refused to treat him because he had AIDS. The clinic was fined $47,000 by the City‘s Human Rights Commission. It closed.Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
After the book party for Nebraska, a group of us went to a restaurant. George, always a great looker, was in a wonderful mood and looking quite handsome. He was surrounded by his friends and his dear lover, Michael Canter. I was unusually quiet. At one point George turned to me and asked, ―What‘s wrong with you?‖ I lied and told him that I was fine. George could read me, and I could tell if I continued to sit there withdrawn, he would get really pissed. So I started to yak it up, but didn‘t do a very good job of acting. I couldn‘t stop myself from foreseeing what was going to happen to my friend. We‘d seen too many friends in hospitals and sat together at too many of their funerals. That night I was down that road, somewhere in the future. And in doing so, I was ruining that most special moment — mainly for myself. I was missing the opportunity to bathe in the love and success of a close friend who was such a part of me. George, wiser than I was, did not ruin that night for himself. [...]
In his life, he loved order, quiet, loyalty and the company of his friends. In his work he was a true daredevil.
I miss the brave books I‘m sure he would have written. But I miss his humor and his penetrating smile more. I miss his phone calls. The missing never stops. George died in 1989, two years after Nebraska was published and a year after Someone Was Here. He was 43 years old. -- From Victor Bumbalo's essay on Nebraska for The Lost Library
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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