Harvard University, 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138
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Lake Preston Cemetery Lake Preston, Kingsbury County, South Dakota, USA
Boyd Emmett McDonald (July 17, 1925 - September 18, 1993) was an American writer, editor, and publisher of the long-running gay pornography and erotic literature zine S.T.H., or Straight to Hell. He sometimes prefixed his name with the title of "Reverend," from a mail-order divinity degree he purchased.
Boyd Emmett McDonald was born in Lake Preston, South Dakota in 1925. He attended Lake Preston, South Dakota High School, but did not graduate. Despite his lack of a high school diploma, he was admitted to Harvard University and given a small scholarship. He was soon drafted into the Army. After discharge from the Army he returned to Harvard (Eliot House) and earned a degree in American history and literature. He said that "of all the benefits I got from Harvard, I am most grateful for the opportunity it gave me, albeit unwittingly, to come out fast and thoroughly." He frequently attended gay parties "that quickly turned into orgies;" his "first serious lover" was a straight football player he met at one such party. Late in his life, McDonald stated "I feel homosexuality is a gift, an advantage." He explained that the main advantage of homosexuality was the opportunities it provided for sexual encounters with many men, which promiscuity he endorsed and celebrated. He believed all men wanted these sexual encounters, even if they would not admit it to themselves. He was as contemptuous of monogamous gay couples as of straight ones, and opposed so-called Castro clones who were "determined to take homosexuality out of the toilet" and "introduce their lovers to Mom and Dad." He had his greatest contempt for hypocrites, those engaging in gay sex while publicly defending heterosexual monogamy. Homosexuality "was for McDonald an obsession, as he often said." He never spoke of sex as "fun" or "playful"; "he wanted to return to sex its raw, unpretty power.... As a lover of facts about sex, Boyd was necessarily a hater of respectability.... To him, in fact, 'there was no such thing as an open homosexual. There are people who are openly gay, which is something else again.'"
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After graduation, he worked as a writer for Time, Forbes, IBM, and for several Wall Street firms. He found the jobs to be "irredeemably corrupt," and the stress caused him to begin drinking. He credits abandoning his traditional career with "saving his life." He subsequently began to live a transient, keeping personal possessions to a minimum. In 1973, while living on welfare in an Upper West Side SRO (for years before his death he was living in "Riverside Studios" at 342 West 71st St.), he founded his long-running zine S.T.H. or Straight to Hell, which consisted primarily of readers' submissions of their sexual experiences, together with Boyd's sexual or political commentary and single male pictures, reader-sent or from studios such as Old Reliable or Athletic Model Guild (always credited). He also published a number of anthologies of reader-contributed true sex histories. McDonald was friends with a number of other gay pornographers and pro-sexual figures, such as David Hurles and Kenneth Anger.
In later years, McDonald was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder, and rarely left his home. In 1992, he wrote in Lewd that "as the years have gone by and it has become more difficult than it was in childhood to find men to molest me and perpetrate crimes against nature, I have come to love abusing myself more and more." In a 1981 interview with The Advocate, he boasted that "recently I jacked off almost continuously for five days—except for when I went out for food." McDonald died in September 1993 as a result of a pneumococcal infection complicated by emphysema, two months after completing his final book, Scum. Much of his correspondence and papers were discarded by his relatives.
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