Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →
Born in Woodsfield Ohio, Steward was educated at Ohio State University, and in the 1930s and 1940s taught literature at a number of colleges, including Loyola and DePaul in Chicago. Drawn to writing early on, he published a novel, Angels on the Bough, in 1936. He also became close friends with a number of important gay and lesbian cultural figures, including Thornton Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Paul Cadmus, George Platt Lynes, and many others. Fascinated with the gay sexual underworld, Steward in 1949 met Alfred Kinsey, who encouraged him to keep detailed records of his sexual experiences, which Steward began doing. By the early 1950s, he had given up teaching and trained himself as a tattoo artist, at a time when tattooing was considered socially unrespectable and mainly took place in disreputable parts of the city. Steward also began writing gay pornographic novels under a variety of pseudonyms, including Phil Andros. His best known was Stud (1966), an unapologetic presentation of gay sexual exploration. He later wrote Dear Sammy (1977), a chronicle of his relationship with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and a memoir, Chapters of an Autobiography (1981). Moving from Chicago to the San Francisco area in the 1960s, he was for a time the chief tattooist for the Hell’s Angels. Seward died in 1993. He is the subject of a major biography by Justin Spring, Secret Historian (2010).