Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Edward Field

Gay poet Edward Field was born in 1924 in Brooklyn and attended New York University before enlisting in the Air Force in 1943. During the war, as a navigator in heavy bombers, he flew 25 missions over Germany. Field began writing poetry during his military service but did not gain recognition until his collection of poems, Stand Up, Friend, With Me, was awarded the Lamont Poetry Selection prize in 1962. The collection was published the following year.

Field uses words in a straightforward way, and he does not expect his audience to have arcane knowledge. He says he was asked to translate a book of Eskimo poems for children, because he was the only writer the publisher could find whose poetry could be understood by ten-year-olds.

There is also a confessional nature to his poetry. While earlier poems contained subtle references to homosexuality, A Full Heart (1977), is a collection of genial poems in which Field came out as a gay poet. His gay manifesto is "The Two Orders of Love." In this poem, he sees homosexuality as a natural and necessary condition:

Nature needs both to do its work
and humankind, confusing two separate orders of love
makes rules allowing only one kind
and defies the universe.

Terrence Johnson sums up Field’s place in the genre of contemporary literature: “Field's poetry is a pleasurable and valuable account of coming to terms with homosexuality in the literary world of New York in the second half of the twentieth century.”

His honors include an Academy Award for the documentary film “To Be Alive” (1965) for which he wrote the voice-over narration, the Shelley Award, a Lambda Award, and the Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award.

Field, who maintains a web site at, has given readings at hundreds of colleges and other institutions, including the Library of Congress. You can hear him reading poetry at:

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