Arthur Bell (journalist)

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Arthur Bell (November 6, 1939 – June 2, 1984)[1] was an American journalist, author and LGBT rights activist.

Early life[edit]

Bell, an early member of the Gay Liberation Front and a founding member of the Gay Activists Alliance in New York City, wrote two books. Dancing the Gay Lib Blues was published in 1971 and he published Kings Don't Mean a Thing in 1978.


Bell wrote his first piece for the Village Voice in 1969, an account of the Stonewall riots, a confrontation between police and the patrons of a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn that became a flashpoint of the Gay Liberation movement. He became a regular columnist in 1976 with his column "Bell Tells".[2]

Bell wrote a series of columns about a string of unsolved murders of gay people; these columns, along with the novel Cruising by Gerald Walker, were the inspiration behind the William Friedkin film Cruising.[3] Ironically, Bell wrote additional columns condemning Friedkin and Cruising after reading a leaked early screenplay, deploring what he viewed as its negative depiction of gay people and claiming that it would inspire violence against homosexuals.[4] At Bell's urging, gay activists disrupted the filming of Cruising and demonstrated at theatres where the film was playing.


Bell met author Arthur Evans, at the time a film distributor, and the two entered into a relationship in 1964. They parted on bad terms in 1971 and Bell included an unflattering portrait of Evans in his book Dancing the Gay Lib Blues. The two reconstructed their friendship and Bell dedicated his second book, Kings Don't Mean a Thing, to Evans.


Bell died June 2, 1984 at the age of 44 from complications related to diabetes.[2]


Playwright Doric Wilson based a character in his play The West Street Gang on Bell.[5]


  1. ^ Eagan, from Bronski, p. 45, 48
  2. ^ a b "Arthur Bell, 51, a Columnist, Homosexual Rights Activist". The New York Times. 1984-06-04. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  3. ^ Simon, Alex (September 2007). "Crusing with Billy" (PDF). Venice magazine. pp. 68–71. Retrieved 2009-02-10. [dead link]
  4. ^ Williams, p. 135
  5. ^ Nelson, p. 447


  • Eagan, Joseph M. "Arthur Bell". Collected in Bronski, Michael (consulting editor) (1997). Outstanding Lives: Profiles of Lesbians and Gay Men. New York, Visible Ink Press. ISBN 1-57859-008-6.
  • Nelson, Emmanuel Sampath (2003). Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-to-Z Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-32232-5.
  • Williams, Linda Ruth (2005). The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34713-0.

Further reading[edit]

Archival Resources[edit]