Tim Campbell (1939-2015)


Not Surprisingly, Lavender’s 2015 Person of the Year(s) Wrote His Own Obituary

Gay rights activist Tim Campbell died December 26, 2015, in Houston, Texas, at the age of 76, from esophageal cancer.

Campbell was perhaps best known as the publisher of the GLC Voice newspaper in Minneapolis, which came out from 1979 through 1992. During that period he was the go-to person in Minneapolis for the media whenever they needed a quick quote on some gay-related event.

Photo by Mark Luinenburg, courtesy of Tim Campbell

Photo by Mark Luinenburg, courtesy of Tim Campbell

Because Campbell was also known for a number of street-theater type gay-rights protests scattered over the years, it chagrined a few more polite gays and lesbians when he became their “voice.” Campbell often remarked that he made a terrible mistake when he named his paper the GLC Voice.

Campbell was pushed into an openly gay lifestyle by the U.S. Army in 1962 when he was called to register for the draft. He checked the box for people who had “homosexual tendencies” even though he had never yet acted on them. For years thereafter, Campbell had to list “1Y” as his draft status on every application for employment he filled out. This had a chilling effect on his pursuit of highly respectable employment, so he worked in department stores and waited tables.

Campbell was asked by Fight Repression of Erotic Expression (FREE), a University of Minnesota gay and lesbian group, to be their spokesperson with the press at a rally for equal employment for gays and lesbians. That march passed from the university campus downtown to the offices of Northwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1971. From then forward, the local press kept his phone number handy.

Campbell himself often said his most important contribution to the national drive for gay rights was some energy he put, during 1974 and 1975, into convincing The Advocate (a national gay publication); the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers, including the university’s Minnesota Daily; the Washington Post; Dear Abby (Van Buren); and the New York Times to direct their style sheets to use “gay” or “gay and lesbian” or “lesbian and gay” instead of “homosexual.” Ever since the mid-1960s, gays themselves throughout the gay bar system and other fledgling organizations had started using “gay” for ourselves.

Campbell was also very involved in helping gays, lesbians, and others to recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. He sobered up August 25, 1973, in Minneapolis. He was the founding chair of the Lambda Sobriety Center in Minneapolis in 1981.

Campbell received his master’s in French Literature from the University of Texas in 1969. He studied in Tours, France, and was theoretically working on his doctoral dissertation while teaching at the University of Minnesota, Morris Campus, from 1970 through 1972. Just last year, Campbell finally wrote up a lot of his studies about Marcel Proust and posted them on a blog called ProustByCampbell.blogspot.com.

From 1973 to 1974, Campbell joined with Jack Baker and Mike McConnell in conducting accredited seminars in sensitivity training on gay issues for students in the Education Department at the University of Minnesota. He conducted similar seminars for police officers and other professionals, including chemical dependency counselors, over the next few years. Campbell, Baker, and McConnell encouraged each other in the belief that they could “change the way people see gays” by working to do so. That was the purpose of Jack and Mike’s gay marriage, the first of its kind in the United States, in May 1970.

Campbell was born December 18, 1939, in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was preceded in death by both parents, William Patrick Campbell and Betty Jane Dusenbery Campbell, and by his sister Patricia Campbell. He is survived by brothers Bill Campbell of Roswell, GA; Ed Campbell of Beaumont, TX; Mike Campbell of Beaumont, TX; and Charlie Campbell of Seattle, WA; and by sisters Clarice Campbell Hebinck of Mary Esther, FL; and Dee Ann Campbell Soileau of Beaumont, TX.

Campbell was also preceded in death by Jerome L. Smith, who partnered with him to found the Lambda Sobriety Center in Minneapolis, and by Bruce Brockway, who partnered with him to start the Positively Gay newspaper, which soon became the GLC Voice newspaper.

Besides his living brothers and sisters, honorable pallbearers include Lad Sledz of Minneapolis; Vickie Judkins of Eau Claire, WI; Brian Stacey of Arizona; Ed Bloomquist of Minneapolis; and Luke Coulson, Don Kelly, and Philip Bowman, all of Houston.

In lieu of flowers or other memorials, persons so moved are encouraged to engage in random acts of kindness, generosity, or courage.

(This obituary was written by Campbell himself, with date of death and age at death supplied by family.)



Tim Campbell in 1985


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