William Armstrong Percy III
|William Armstrong Percy, III|
December 10, 1933 |
|Occupation||Professor, historian, encyclopedist, and gay activist|
William Armstrong Percy III (born December 10, 1933) is an American professor, historian, encyclopedist, and gay activist and pederasty rights advocate. He taught from 1968 at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and started publishing in gay studies in 1985.
Early life and education
William was born to Anne Minor Dent and William Armstrong Percy, II, of the Mississippi Percy family. His mother was raised by her widowed uncle, the distinguished Memphis lawyer Dent Minor, scion of 17th-century settlers of those names in Maryland and Virginia. His great-uncle John B. Minor taught law at the University of Virginia from 1845 to 1895 and served for decades as dean of the Law School.
After graduating as valedictorian of Middlesex School (in Concord, Massachusetts) in 1951, Percy went to Princeton University, where he entered the Special Program in the Humanities. He struggled with the rejection and persecution of gays during the McCarthy years. At a time when conscription was still in effect, he volunteered for the U.S. Army. In his military stint, Percy studied Norwegian at the Army Language School. He worked as a French interpreter on loan to the Central Intelligence Agency on the island of Saipan.
Following the completion of his military service, Percy completed his B.A. in 1957 at the University of Tennessee. He spent a year obtaining a Certificato from the University of Naples. He went on to earn an M.A. from Cornell University, followed by an A.M., and in 1964 his Ph.D. from Princeton.
Percy taught at the University of New Orleans, Louisiana State University, and the University of Missouri at St. Louis for two years each. In 1968 he moved to the University of Massachusetts at Boston. After gaining tenure and promotion to full professor there, in 1975 Percy "came out" to colleagues. He joined the fight for equal rights for gays in 1982, and three years later began publishing in gay studies.
Paul Cartledge, of the University of Cambridge, described Percy's Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece (1996) as the first work to try to go beyond Kenneth Dover's groundbreaking but homophobic Greek Homosexuality..
At the time he published Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence (1994), Percy announced that he was offering a bounty of $10,000 for the person who successful "outed" a living American cardinal, a sitting justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, or a four-star officer on active duty in the U.S. military. In light of the 2003 Supreme Court decision that decriminalized sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas), he amended his bounty offer to exclude a Supreme Court justice, but increased the bounty to $20,000 for a cardinal or a four-star officer.
- Paul Cartledge, "Review: William Armstrong Percy III, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece", International Historical Review, 19, 1997, p. 887
- The Age of Recovery: The Fifteenth Century (Vol. X, The Development of Western Civilization series), with Jerah Johnson. New York: Cornell University Press, 1970.
- Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, Ed. Wayne R. Dynes. 2 vols. New York: Garland, 1990.
- Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, with Warren Johansson. New York: Haworth Press, 1994.
- Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece. Campagne/Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996. ISBN 0252022092
- The Age of Marriage in Ancient Rome, with Arnold Lelis and Beert Verstraete. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003.