Tag Archives: Good Gay Poets Collective

Exhibition: Charles Shively: Cambridge Poet and Activist, 1937-2017

Charles Shively and Cat, photograph taken from Shively’s memorial service in December 2017.

Charles Shively:  Cambridge Poet and Activist, 1937-2017

Exhibition Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library

This exhibition, curated by Daniel Wuenschel, features a selection of photographs of and poems and books by Charles Shively, Cambridge poet, author, and activist.   Shively was active in the Boston LBGTQ+ movement in the 1970s, helping to form Gay Men’s Liberation.  In 1971,  he helped found the Fag Rag Collective, which published the Fag Rag, the first national post-Stonewall gay political journal.   Shively published a series of twelve essays, in Fag Rag beginning with “Cocksucking as an Act of Revolution,” a piece that became seminal to gay male political theory in the post-Stonewall era.

Also, Shively founded Fag Rag Books, the Good Gay Poets Collective and Press, and Boston Gay Review, a journal of cultural criticism.  Shively gained fame during the 1977 Boston Gay Pride March by nearly causing a riot for burning pages from the bible, his insurance policy, his Harvard diploma, and a teaching contract.  In the late 1980s, Shively published his research on Walt Whitman in two volumes:  Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman’s Working Class Camerados (1987) and Drum Beats: Walt Whitman’s Civil War Boy Lovers.  He was a tenured professor at U-Mass Boston in the American Studies Program.  He died on October 6, 2017, just shy of his 80th birthday.

Shively’s 1975 book of poems, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores: The San Francisco Experience, which is featured in the exhibition, is from the Louisa Solano Papers, 1956-2013.


Read Shively’s obituary in the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide by Michael Bronski, Professor of Practice in Media and Activism in Studies of Women, Gender, and at Harvard University.