Bill Brent: 1960-2012

BCN 116 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 116, December 2012

Bill Brent, the founder and editor in chief of Black Books, jumped from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and took his own life at the end of August this year.

Bill was a bisexual activist who moved easily in gay men’s circles. According to fellow publisher and writer Cecilia Tan he arose from the punk community into leather, and into pansexual publishing and activism. His colleague and friend, Thomas Roche, wrote briefly about his death on FetLife.  In the 1990s Bill published The Black Book, which Cecilia Tan calls “the leather community ‘yellow pages’ – something completely necessary in the years before the World Wide Web.”

It was one of the first and most important pre-web guides for information about alternative sexuality and included a listing of psychotherapists who could be trusted with people’s erotic identities, where I was pleased and proud to appear.

With The Black Book he founded Black Books and the literary zine Black Sheets, which Cecilia Tan called “the ‘must read’ magazine for bisexual and sexuality activists everywhere.”

Black Sheets profoundly affected the rise of literary erotica not only in San Francisco but well beyond, particularly in the leather and queer communities. Bill later published edited and published numerous anthologies, including Best Bisexual Erotica and Literotica, and founded Perverts Put Out, a literary salon cum reading series still active in San Francisco.

Bill will be missed by his friends and acquaintances, and his death is an absolute loss for the queer publishing world and for the world of queer sexuality activism.

William Henkin