Arthur, Gavin (1901-1972)

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Arthur, Gavin (1901-1972)

Gavin Arthur, an astrologer and occultist, was born Chester Alan Arthur III, the grandson and namesake of the 21st President of the United States. He grew up in wealth, but did not pursue a career in the professions, choosing instead to join the Merchant Marines. He later panned for gold and sold newspapers. In the 1930s he traveled widely and came to know many of the counterculture elite of his day. Among his acquaintances were pioneer sexologists Havelock Ellis and Alfred Kinsey.

In the 1950s he settled in San Francisco and devoted his time to astrology. He began to move in the alternative spirituality and sexuality community that first became known for its identification with beat Zen, and he became well-known as an astrological counselor. He began to develop a perspective on astrology that, contrary to the mainstream of astrological writing, took account of homosexual and bisexual gender preferences. His ruminations culminated in 1966 with his major writing, The Circle of Sex, for which Alan Watts wrote an introduction.

Arthur moved beyond traditional observations on sexual roles (that continue to dominate astrology books) that treat issues of sexual attraction and compatibility to argue that each person possesses a distinct combination of Yin and Yang. We attract and repel others as they tend to balance our own combination of male/female attributes. He then placed this under-standing that allowed for women with much Yang and men with much Yin, into a complex system of correspondences that involve the astrological signs, the planets, and houses of the horoscope.

Drawing on his reading of gay writers, Arthur concluded that sexuality needs to be separated from the single need to procreate. Heterosexuals need to be free of the constraints of marriage, for only then will the transgendered, homosexuals, and bisexuals be liberated.


Arthur, Gavin. The Circle of Sex. Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1966.

. "Document Received from the Hands of Gavin Arthur and Its Authenticity Vouched for by Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco 1967. [previously unpublished]." Gay Sunshine: A Journal of Gay Liberation 35 (winter 1978). 29.

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Arthur, Gavin (1901-1972)

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