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    AC Benus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 50. Gavin Arthur “…his tongue flickered over me like summer lightning…”

*Warning: sexy content ahead*



Gavin Arthur, President Chester Arthur’s grandson, in his early twenties


The Gay Succession

Walt Whitman Slept with Edward Carpenter
Edward Carpenter Slept with Gavin Arthur
Gavin Arthur Slept with [Neal Cassady]
[Neal Cassady] Slept with Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg Slept with . . .


[Winston Leyland:] The following document first appeared in Gay Sunshine Journal 35 (1978), and was reprinted as an appendix to the Allen Ginsberg interview in the book Gay Sunshine Interviews, Volume 1, Gay Sunshine Press, 1978.

Allen Ginsberg writes: "The late Gavin Arthur, San Francisco astrologer & companion of Sufi Sam, died in 1972 after a long, loving life. I asked him to set [an] account in writing of his memory of [his] encounter with Edward Carpenter, who in turn, G.A. said, had [had] love encounter[s] with Walt Whitman. […] Thus, this is a document given me by Gavin Arthur in 1967, the year of the First Human Be-In in San Francisco.”

Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was a writer and Gay mystic who lived in England all his life. Although ordained an Anglican priest in 1869, he soon renounced religion and became a Fabian socialist. Among his works on social reform is Towards Democracy (1883-1902), a long, un-rhymed poem revealing the influence of his friend Walt Whitman. He edited the first Gay literary collection [in English], Ioläus: An Anthology of Friendship (1902) He is one of the most important precursors of present-day Gay Liberation. In 1924 he met with the American:

Gavin Arthur (1901-1972) was grandson of President Chester Alan Arthur. Educated in fashionable boarding schools, Gavin (the name he took in preference to his real name of Chester Alan Arthur III) worked his way around the world in the merchant marine, panned gold, and even sold newspapers for a while for a living. He was a friend of Havelock Ellis, [Dr. Alfred] Kinsey, and the great German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld. Arthur’s own philosophy is set forth in the book The Circle of Sex (1966). He lived in San Francisco for many years before his death.


GAVIN ARTHUR WROTE: You asked me to tell you about my visit (in 1924) with Edward Carpenter, who gave up the chance to be tutor to Queen Victoria’s grandchildren and even as a D[octor of] D[ivinity] crossed the Atlantic [in] steerage to sit for a whole year at Whitman’s feet. I was 23 and came up the garden path with the letter of introduction awkwardly in my hand. He seemed to know I was coming for he opened the door and held out his arms. “Welcome, my son,” he growled affectionately as if he had known me for ever. He did not read the letter but drew me into the cozy study by the fire and introduced me to his comrade George, and George’s comrade Ted. George was about 60 and was pouring tea. Ted was about 40 and was sticking flowers in a vase. Both were warm in their welcome. [As I mentioned,] I was about 20, and Carpenter, about 80.

They all talked to me as if we were old friends. That is what Mother used to call “Le don fatale de la familiarité” [“The fatal gift of familiarity”] which only [a] few people like Havelock Ellis, [Dr.] Kinsey and F.D.R. possess. We talked about Walt and E.C. gave me the young picture, which is the frontispiece of his book about WW. He said Walt would have loved me, and the others agreed, and my heart beat hard. He also talked about their friend Mrs. Gilchrist and how she had wanted to go to bed with Walt and how gently Walt had put her in her place and consoled her by letting her be his hostess to all the European celebrities who kept coming to see Walt.

I started back to my inn, but Carpenter insisted that I stay for supper. After supper, Ted suggested a walk in the moonlight (it was June) and we talked all the time about Carpenter, and he said, “Why don’t you spend the night? It would do Eddy so much good to sleep with a good-looking young American like you. Even [Tsar] Peter the Great in his old age used to sleep between two of his healthiest guards. It used to recharge his battery, so to speak.”

I said I would love nothing better – that next to Whitman, I admired Carpenter more than any man, anywhere, [at] anytime. Ted said he would put a flea in the old man’s ear. Which he did.

We had some mattè [tea] someone had sent him from Brazil […]. Carpenter asked me if I would do him a favor and sleep with him. “George and Ted need a rest.” He grinned.

He had a growly way of talking like an old dog that growls his affection. The other two went up to bed, and the old man and I sat by the fire. I wish I had had a camera. The firelight on that wonderfully human face; with its sensitive bones and rough silver beard; the skin so coppery from the sun; the eyes so blue. He said he was looking forward to dying, to see if reincarnation was really true. I asked him if “The Secret of Time and Satan” was not the distillation of his wisdom – what he had learned from the great YANG guru in America (meaning, Walt Whitman) and the great YIN guru in India. He agreed. I asked him if he had ever been to bed with a woman, and he said no – that he liked and admired women, but that he had never felt any need to copulate with them. […]

“I suppose you slept with him?" I blurted out, half-scared to ask.

“Oh, yes – once in a while – he regarded it as the best way to get together with another man. He thought that people should ‘know’ each other on the physical and emotional plane as well as the mental. And that the best part of comrade-love was that there was no limit to the number of comrades one could have – whereas the very fact of engendering children made the man-woman relationship more singular.” […]

“How did he make love?” I forced myself to ask.

“I will show you.” He smiled. “Let us go to bed.” It was a warm night and we had just a light eiderdown over us. We were both naked and we lay side by side on our backs holding hands. Then he was holding MY head in his two hands and making little growly noises, staring at me in the moonlight. ‘This is the laying on of hands,’ I thought reverently. ‘Walt. Then him. Then me.’ I had recently seen some neophytes made priests in Maynooth, and their faces had shown the same emotions as I now felt.

He snuggled up to me and kissed my ear. His beard tickled my neck. He smelled of the leaves and ferns and soil of autumn woods. A song my shipmates used to sing intruded rudely into my worshipful thoughts. “If you can’t get a woman, get a clean man!” Is that what he wanted from me? I remembered Walt’s bizarrely indignant denial to [John Addington] Symond’s inquiry [if he] was he queer. The old man at my side was stroking my body with the most expert touch. It was as exquisite as the little bubbles that come up from decaying vegetation in a mud bath, caressing the flesh with a feather lightness.

I just lay there in the moonlight that poured in at the window and gave myself up [to] the loving old man’s marvelous petting. Every now and then he would bury his face in the hair of my chest, agitate a nipple with the end of his tongue, or breathe in deeply from my armpit. I had of course a throbbing erection, but he ignored it for a long time. Very gradually, however, he got nearer and nearer, first with his hand, and later with his tongue, which was now flickering all over me like summer lightning. I stroked whatever part of him came within reach of my hand but I felt instinctively that this was a one-sided affair, he being so old, and I so young, and that he enjoyed petting me as much as I delighted in being petted. There are so many possible relationships, and one misses so much if one limits oneself to one sex, or color, or age.

At last his hand was moving between my legs and his tongue was in my bellybutton. And then, when he was tickling my fundament just behind the balls, and I could not hold it any longer, his mouth closed just over the head of my penis, and I could feel my young vitality flowing into his old age. He did not suck me at all. It was really karezza, which I knew he recommended in his books. I had not learned the control necessary to karezza, and he did not want to waste that life-giving fluid. As he said afterward, “It isn’t the chemical ingredients which are so full of vitality – it’s the electrical content, like you get in milk if you get it direct from the cow – so different from cold milk!” He was in no sense a succubus, like so many old men, draining the young men of all the vitality they can get, like a vampire. The emphasis was on the caressing and loving. I fell asleep like a child, safe in father-mother-arms, the arms of God. And dreamed of autumn woods with their seminal smell.

The next morning he made love to me again, this time gazing at my body rapturously between kisses and growling ecstatically. And the same thing happened at the end. I had the distinct feeling that he felt my coming as if he were coming himself – that in that moment he was me. Afterwards he said, “When I was a clergyman, I thought at Communion I was at one with God. But I realize now that this is a much more intimate communion – for is not Man made in the image of God? And I have reason to believe that this was the beginning of the Communion Service – the young man laid out on the altar to be circumcised – and all his male relatives eating his ‘body’ and drinking his blood.” Much later I heard [Dr.] Kinsey lecture on this subject and say this was still practiced in very remote Jewish communities near the Caucasus. Carpenter had been dead for many years, but in that western lecture hall, I could see him bending over me so reverently and hear his loving growl.

—Gavin Arthur,[i]

1967, remembering events of 1924



Edward Carpenter at 30 years of age




[i] “The Gay Succession” Gavin Arthur testimony recorded by Allen Ginsberg and reprinted in Gay Roots, Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine: An Anthology of Gay History, Sex, Politics and Culture [Winston Leyland, Editor] (San Francisco 1991), ps. 323-325


Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Here is an intimate and beautiful recollection of what connections one could make, and what lines we can still draw through time. 

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3 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

Here is an intimate and beautiful recollection of what connections one could make, and what lines we can still draw through time. 

Thank you, Parker. What the men responsible for relaying this sacred piece of Gay History may not have realized is how much their path reflected the common path for the transmission of same-sex love culture. So often, and still today, it is given from lover to lover. Special books, films, the knowledge of who was Queer in history, this is passed directly from one Gay person to the next, and then so on and so forth. In an age where homophones have a firm grip on no one in history being allowed to be Gay on wiki, and the wicked proliferation of the H-word (that is, being talked "about" rather than talked "to"), this intimate passing of the torch is as vital as ever.

Thanks once more for your wonderful comment 

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On 3/5/2022 at 4:34 AM, Lux Apollo said:

Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

Thank you, @Lux Apollo, for reading and commenting :)


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