elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Sasha Alyson (born May 22, 1952)

Sasha Alyson (born May 22, 1952) is an American businessman who started Alyson Publications in 1979. It was based in Boston, Massachusetts, where Alyson lived at the time. The company concentrated on subjects important to gay people. The company particularly focused on groups that were under-represented in gay literature, including gay youth, black gay men, and older gay people. In 1990, he created the imprint "Alyson Wonderland" to publish children's books that depicted families with lesbian and gay parents. Under the penname Johnny Valentine, Alyson wrote some of these children's books including "The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans" (1991) which won a Lambda Literary Award.

In 1988, Alyson initiated publication of the book "You Can Do Something About AIDS," in which members of the publishing cooperated to produce a 126-page book that was distributed free through bookstores. Other publishers and writers contributed articles and funding, and Elizabeth Taylor wrote the book's introduction. A first printing of 150,000 copies was gone in 10 days, and the book went through additional printings. As a result of this work, Alyson received the first Lambda Literary award for Publisher's Service.

By 1992, Alyson Publications had become the largest independent publisher of gay and lesbian books, with sales of almost one million dollars a year. Alyson, and his company, were named "Publisher of the Year" by the New England Booksellers Association in 1994.

Alyson announced in 1992 that he had decided to retire, and was taking steps to find a way for the company to continue without him. Three years later, he sold the business to Liberation Publications, publisher of the gay magazine, "The Advocate." The new owner moved the offices to California (and later to New York) and renamed it "Alyson Books".

Alyson also founded Bay Windows, a weekly gay newspaper in Boston, in 1983. It is still published, under different ownership.

After selling the publishing business, Alyson started the company Alyson Adventures, which offered outdoor and adventure travel for gay people. He owned and operated that company from 1995 to 2002, then sold it to Phil Sheldon of Key West, Florida, to be operated in conjunction with Hanns Ebensten Travel.

The travel business took Alyson to southeast Asia for the first time. He moved there in 2003. He founded, and currently serves as full-time volunteer adviser for, Big Brother Mouse, a publishing and literacy project in Laos. There, he works with young Laotians to create new books, in the Lao language, that will inspire children to read. Some of these books are traditional Laotian fairy tales; others are works, often inspired by popular children's books from other countries. Big Brother Mouse distributes the books to rural villages, traveling by road, by river, and sometimes by elephant to reach remote locations, often giving children the first and only book they have ever owned.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sasha_Alyson

Sasha Alyson, 1988, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123721)
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)

More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices

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Tags: essayist: sasha alyson, particular voices

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