Richard Hall amplified and humanized the LGBTQ+ community through his words. Born as Richard Hirshfeld, Hall was born in New York, New York to Southern Jewish parents. From an early age, he faced discrimination as his family was the target of an anti-Semintic incident forcing them to uproot and change their surname. After high school, he was drafted during World War II, serving in the U.S. Army.

After WWII, Hall enrolled at Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude in 1948. He entered the advertising and public relations field upon graduating. He worked for J. Walter Thompson and Western Electric and Celanese. His time in those fields led him to switch up his life and enroll in New York University, where he obtained his master’s degree in English Education. After completing his master’s, the writer secured a faculty position at Inter American University in San Juan, P.R. He flexed his writing aptitude as the acting director of the school’s University Press.

After his career in academia, Hall pursued writing full-time and published his most famous work, The Butterscotch Prince, in 1975. He expanded his reach into the magazine industry, contributing both fiction and nonfiction essays to the growing gay and lesbian media. As a book reviewer and critic for publications such as The Advocate, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Village Voice, he became the first openly gay member of the National Book Critics Circle. Hall’s varied talents and interests have allowed him to make a significant impact in the literary world.

As a writer, Hall expanded his repertoire by creating a trilogy of plays called Three Plays for a Gay Theater. He also published several collections of short stories, including Couplings (1981), Letter from a Great Uncle (1985), and Fidelities (1992). His semi-autobiographical novel, Family Fictions, marked his return to writing longer works.

Unfortunately, Family Fictions and Fidelities proved to be his last works as Richard Hall died from complications related to AIDS on October 29, 1992. His death happened four years after his longtime partner Arthur Marceau.

Richard Hall aimed to promote acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ community. Through his writing, he gave the community a platform to express themselves beyond narrow stereotypes. Unfortunately, his contributions have been overlooked compared to other writers of his era. I will say, “Mr. Hall, we appreciate you using your words to take the otherness away from the LGBTQ community.”

Nowadays, a gay novel rarely explains, complains or apologizes.

Richard Hall