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Jim Kepner

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Kepner at NAMBLA meeting

Jim Kepner (in full, James Lynn Kepner, Jr.) (born. 1923 – died. 15 November 1997) was an American journalist, author, historian, archivist and leader in the gay rights movement. His work was intertwined with One, Inc. and One Magazine, and eventually contributed to the formation of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives. Assisted by Prof. Walter L. Williams of the University of Southern California (USC), he and Kepner oversaw the merging of the International Gay and Lesbian Archives and the ONE, Inc. library holdings to form the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC, the largest repository of LGBT materials in America and one of the largest in the world.


Kepner started his career as a clerk for a railroad company in San Francisco, California in the 1940s. He joined the Communist Party USA and wrote for a Communist newspaper in New York City, the Daily Worker. However, he was expelled from the party because of his homosexuality. Instead, he joined the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, the main gay organization in the United States at the time.

Kepner's search for information and then community and culture led him to begin a private collection of gay-related materials unlike anything previously compiled. Upon settling in Los Angeles in the early 1950s, Kepner became an essential part of the emergence of modern gay culture through journalism, writing, activism and pioneering archival work. He became one of the main writers for ONE Magazine. Before falling out with ONE in 1961, Kepner wrote many of the magazines' articles and served as co-editor of the magazine. ONE Magazine's documents and Kepner's research materials formed the beginning of today's ONE Archives.

Kepner died on November 15, 1997 at the Midway Hospital in Los Angeles, California, aged 74.


Like fellow pioneer gay activist Harry Hay, Kepner is known to have shown consistent support for NAMBLA, speaking at their events and joining the group as part of gay pride marches.[1] Kepner recalled that "half of gay history is pedophile history."[2]

He is quoted variously as saying:

[I]f we reject the boylovers in our midst today, we'd better stop waving the banner of the ancient Greeks, of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Horatio Alger, and Shakespeare. We'd better stop claiming them as part of our history unless we are broadening our concept of what it means to be gay.

And by NAMBLA:

Many of the men who picked me up so lovingly, would today be stigmatized as pedophiles. They were all kind and respectful and were very important to me. I've seen that same considered manner in most pedophiles I've known, though I don't share their love for children. ... Most, not all, men I've known who were as boys befriended by boy-lovers were grateful to them. Women who act seductively with boys (I often experienced that) are generally ignored -- probably just as well. ...
The upbringing of girls and boys differs so much, that lesbians tend to view all intergenerational sex (or even adult hetero-sex) in "power" terms. Most, not all, boys see it as an adventure, or seek the love their parents fail to give them. ...
Too many in our movement, victims themselves of prejudice and discrimination, pass those hatreds and fears to drag queens, pedophiles, bisexuals, leather men and women, transsexuals, and many other minorities within our community. We talk nicely about diversity, but practicing it is more difficult.

See also