Thursday 3 December, 6.30pm
Drawing on new research carried out as part of EPIC’s LGBTQI Diaspora Project, this talk will explore the extraordinary career of Chester A. Arthur III – later known as Gavin Arthur – an astrologer, sexologist and advocate for sexual liberation who spent a formative period of his life in 1920s Dublin.
In late 1921, Chester A. Arthur III, the grandson of the 21st US President Chester Arthur, disembarked from a ship at Cobh intending to visit his ancestral home. Shortly after his arrival, a conversation with a Kerry republican converted Arthur to the cause of Irish freedom and he became enmeshed in the anti-treaty side in Ireland’s Civil War. For Arthur, a remarkable figure who would later play a role in early LGBTQ movements in the US, life in Ireland would transform his understanding of political and sexual freedom.
By the 1930s, he had changed his name to Gavin – a family name from his Antrim ancestry – reflecting the importance of his Irish experiences to both his political and spiritual identities. This talk ultimately reveals how a man who spent his honeymoon digging trenches for republicans in Killarney during the Civil War later found himself living a bisexual life, establishing an anarchist commune in the California sand dunes and playing a role in initiating San Francisco’s “Summer of Love” in the late 1960s.