Richard Summerbell is a Canadian mycologist, author and award-winning songwriter. He was editor in chief of an international scientific journal in mycology from 2000 to 2004. In the 1970s and 80s, he was a gay activist and an early commentator on (then) controversial topics such as AIDS and promiscuity and attitudes to homosexuality in organized religion. Summerbell trained as a botanist, receiving his master's degree from the University of British Columbia and his doctorate degree from the University of Toronto. He has lived with his partner, Ross Fraser, since 1978 and currently resides in Toronto, Canada. In 1985, he published a humorous look at gay life and culture entitled Abnormally Happy: A Gay Dictionary that satirizes stereotypical views
of gays and lesbians. As a songwriter and musician, Summerbell released an independent CD, Light Carries On, in 2004. One song from the CD, Thank you for being My Dog, won the 7th Annual Great American Song Contest in the Special Music category and won Summerbell a place in the Great American Song Hall of Fame.
Together since 1978: 37 years.
Richard Summerbell (born June 29, 1956)
Ross Fraser (born March 26)
Married: December 1, 1978
The anniversary of our self-annealed union is December 1. That's in memory of December 1, 1978. We'd first met in October, when he came to a house party I'd organized, with friends, for the new school year's members of what was then called Gay People of UBC, in Vancouver. I noticed a remarkably attractive and intelligent boy talking to one of our resident geniuses, librarianship student Bill Richardson - later to become a CBC host and well known writer of humour. Ross Fraser, the boy was called. I was busy being a host that night, but at a later event, a downtown gay club tour for students, I danced with him. He was sure I'd ask him home, but I went into a sort of courtship mode and didn't press. So at our third social encounter, the gay club's Christmas dance, he took the initiative and invited me to his '28th Floor Apartment' (The title of the most popular song I ever released). He shocked me by ordering a cab and taking me all the way from UBC on Point Grey to the West End - what a gesture for a student! That was December 1. Then he went home and spent Christmas with his mom in Nova Scotia, and, while there, drew a pencil sketch of a beautiful young man who had a distinct, idealized resemblance to me. I'm not a visual artist, but in some way, a similar sketch of him has remained in my heart to this day.-- Richard Summerbell
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
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