Terry Sanderson (writer)

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Terry Sanderson
Terry Sanderson 01.jpg
Terence Arthur Sanderson

(1946-11-16)16 November 1946
Died12 June 2022(2022-06-12) (aged 75)
Occupation(s)Secularist, gay rights activist, author, journalist
PartnerKeith Porteous Wood

Terence Arthur Sanderson[1] (16 November 1946 – 12 June 2022) was a leading British secularist and gay rights activist, author, and journalist. He served as president of the National Secular Society from 2006 to 2017 and was a long-standing columnist for Gay Times.

Early life and career[edit]

In 1946, Sanderson was born to a poor mining family in the South Yorkshire village of Maltby.[2][3] He came out as gay after starting work in Rotherham at the age of seventeen. His parents found out after reading an interview with Sanderson in a local newspaper, concerning his booking a venue for a meeting of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.[4] Moving to London in the early 1970s, Sanderson worked as a disability support worker or other similar jobs,[3] and on the Woman's Own.[3]


Terry Sanderson chairing a panel discussion on religion at the Secular Conference 2014

Sanderson began campaigning for equality for gay people in 1969. His MediaWatch columns for Gay Times have been a feature since 1982, and were described as "probably the most informative record of the extent of press homophobia in the UK in the 1980s".[5] In 1986, after experiencing problems with a Christian-owned publisher, Sanderson established The Other Way Press as a specifically gay-themed publishing house. Sanderson was elected President of the National Secular Society in 2006, having previously served as a vice-president for a number of years. He helped organize protests during the state visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Sanderson was in a relationship with Keith Porteous Wood, the current president of the National Secular Society. They had been together for over two decades before the recognition of same-sex relationships by the state, and they entered into a civil partnership in 2006[7] In 2015 his autobiography The Adventures of a Happy Homosexual was published and then revised with a new epilogue in 2021 as The Reluctant Gay Activist following his diagnosis and treatment for bladder cancer.[8] His cancer returned in 2022 and he died at his home in London on 12 June that year, aged 75.[9][1][10]


  • How to be a Happy Homosexual (1986) London: The Other Way Press, ISBN 0-948982-00-4, (5th ed, 1999)
  • The Potts Correspondence and Other Gay Humour (1987) London: The Other Way Press, ISBN 0-948982-01-2
  • "Gays and the Press" (1989), in Shepherd, Simon and Wallis, Mick, Coming on strong: gay politics and culture London: Routledge; Chapter 13, pp. 231–241,ISBN 0-04-445352-3
  • Making Gay Relationships Work (1990) London: The Other Way Press, ISBN 0-948982-02-0
  • Stranger in the Family: how to cope if your child is gay (1991) London: The Other Way Press, ISBN 0-948982-03-9, (2nd ed, 1996)
  • Mediawatch: treatment of male and female homosexuality in the British media (1995) London: Continuum International Publishing, ISBN 978-0-304-33186-4
  • The Potts Papers (1996) London: The Other Way Press, ISBN 0-948982-09-8
  • Assertively Gay: how to build gay self-esteem (1997) 2nd revised edition, London: The Other Way Press, ISBN 978-0-948982-10-1
  • The Gay Man's Kama Sutra (2003) London: Carlton Books, ISBN 978-1-84222-794-7
  • The Adventures of a Happy Homosexual: Memoirs of an Unlikely Activist (2015) The Otherway Press ISBN 978-1786102331
  • The Reluctant Gay Activist (2021) Independently published, ISBN 979-8452007791


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Former NSS president Terry Sanderson". National Secular Society. 13 June 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  2. ^ The Reluctant Gay Activist. 45 of 5039: independently published. 7 August 2021. ISBN 979-8452007791.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ a b c Wood, Keith Porteous (19 July 2022). "Terry Sanderson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  4. ^ Garner, Lesley "How to be a Happy Homosexual", interview with Terry Sanderson, Evening Standard, 13 April 1999, p.26
  5. ^ Dollimore, Jonathan (1991) Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault, Oxford University Press, p.235
  6. ^ Protests planned for Pope’s visit National Secular Society, 23 September 2009
  7. ^ Annual Report, 2005–06 Campaign for Homosexual Equality
  8. ^ "Terry Sanderson's memoir shows gay and secularist activism go hand in hand". National Secular Society. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  9. ^ "NSS mourns the loss of Terry Sanderson". National Secular Society. 13 June 2022.
  10. ^ "NSS mourns the loss of Terry Sanderson". National Secular Society. 13 June 2022. Retrieved 18 June 2022.

External links[edit]