Patricia Nell Warren

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Patricia Nell Warren (born 15 June 1936) is an openly lesbian[1] American author and journalist.


Patricia Nell Warren was born in Helena, MT in 1936. She grew up on the Grant-Kohrs Ranch at Deer Lodge, MT, today a national historic site. She began writing at age 10, and got her first literary recognition at age 18, winning the Atlantic Monthly College Fiction Contest with a short story. In 1957 she married Ukrainian emigre poet Yuriy Tarnawsky. Through her marriage, she learned the Ukrainian language and became associated with a group of other young Ukrainian emigre poets who became internationally known as the New York Group. As a part of their publishing collective, she began writing and publishing poetry in Ukrainian.

In 1959 she went to work for The Reader's Digest and worked there for 21 years, becoming a book editor for both the magazine and the Condensed Book Club. During the Sixties, she and her husband spent some time in Spain, where she learned the language, did part-time work for the Digest and developed a huge empathy for the country as it struggled towards an end to the Franco regime and eventual democracy. Her first novel "The Last Centennial" was published by Dial Press in 1971, under the pen name Patricia Kilina, which she had used on her Ukrainian poetry. The book was reviewed by Library Journal as "impressive...Faulknerian," but didn't sell past a first printing. In 1973 she divorced Tarnawsky and left the New York Group shortly after.

In 1974, as a result of several years' involvement in long-distance running, Warren published her first bestselling novel The Front Runner with William Morrow. With this book she returned to her maiden name as author credit. Told from the point of view of a gay track coach, the story chronicled his struggle to get a talented openly gay runner on the U.S. Olympic team, and to quash his own growing love for his protegé.[2] The controversial book made the New York Times bestseller list. Since its appearance, there has been long-standing interest in its adaptation as a motion picture. Over the years, "The Front Runner" has been translated into 10 languages, and is still her biggest-selling title today. It also inspired the LGBT running and walking organization Frontrunners.

As a runner herself, Warren was one of the first women to run in the Boston Marathon, in 1968. She participated in a group of female runners who got women's marathoning recognized in the U.S .[3]

In 1976, Warren followed with a second novel, "The Fancy Dancer" (Morrow), that made the B. Dalton bestseller list. The story was set in her native Montana, tracking the struggle with sexual-orientation issues of a young Catholic parish priest in a small cow-country town. In 1978 came Warren's third novel, "The Beauty Queen." Also published by Morrow, this book was set in the New York City world where she'd spent many years. The story focused on a socially prominent Manhattan businessman, a closeted gay father trying to get up the courage to come out to his daughter, who had become a fiercely anti-gay born-again Christian politician.

In 1980, Warren left employment at the Digest to become a full-time writer. She moved back out West to pursue research on her next novel, a Western historical opus. It appeared from Ballantine in 1991 under the title "One Is the Sun." Eventually settling in southern California, she made the decision to go independent with book publishing. The result was Wildcat Press, which has published all her books since then, including her 2001 novel, "The Wild Man," inspired by her years in Spain. Wildcat has also brought out her first ventures into nonfiction, with two anthologies of her own short writings on gays in sports ("The Lavender Locker Room," 2007) and her Western roots ("My West," 2011).

During the 1990s, Warren became more active politically. In 1996-99, as a result of her concerns for LGBT youth, she volunteered as a commissioner of education in Los Angeles Unified School District, serving on the Gay & Lesbian Education Commission and later the Human Relations Education Commission. She often travels at the invitation of colleges and universities, public libraries and LGBT rights groups, and is highly regarded as a speaker. In 2006, Warren hired veteran political consultant Neal Zaslavsky and announced her candidacy for City Council in West Hollywood, CA.[4] Warren was unsuccessful in her run, but her campaign was respected for its positive, issue-oriented approach. She put out a white paper proposing that West Hollywood become the first city in the nation to offer a universal single-payer health care system for all residents.

As a sideline, over the years, Warren has done a great deal of magazine and commentary writing, both for print publications and online. Her subjects ranged from human rights to Western history. She writes a monthly column on the politics of AIDS for A & U Magazine. Today she still keeps a close touch with her home state, serving on the board of directors of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch Foundation.

In 2014, Warren was presented the Bonham Centre Award from The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto, for her contributions to the advancement and education of issues around sexual identification,.[5]



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