1943 - 1986

While studying at Swarthmore College in 1963, Carl Wittman became a leader in the radical left wing organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1967 he moved to San Francisco to work as a labor organizer. When he came out as gay in an anti-war publication he faced an onslaught of homophobia within the leftist movement, a response that opened his eyes to the prejudice all around him. Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto, written shortly before the Stonewall Riots of 1969, was published in 1970 and quickly became a guide to gay activism - used in particular by the Gay Liberation Front. "Where once there was frustration, alienation, and cynicism, there are new characters among us. We are full of love for each other and are showing it; we are full of anger at what has been done to us. And as we recall all the self-censorship and repression of so many years, a reservoir of tears pours out of our eyes. And we are euphoric, high with the initial flourish of a movement." By the mid 1970s Wittman had relocated to Wolf Creek, Oregon with his lover, Allan Troxler, and began a commune to cultivate a simpler life. In time they began the popular queer rural “zine” ‘RFD’ (Radical Faerie Digest) which promoted sexual freedom and celebrated the magic and wonder of nature. During this time Wittman also became a “tree activist,” founding the forest activist group Headwaters to battle logging interests. On January 22, 1986, with his HIV at a hopeless and unbearable stage, Wittman gathered his friends together and, surrounded by their love, orchestrated his own death.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present) Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution





Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Created the North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project (1983)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell