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Did Hugh Hefner Support LGBTQ Rights?

Hugh Hefner built a worldwide enterprise by creating the adult Playboy magazine, which showed great success even in the publishing of the first issue. With his death in 2017, talks of his early support for the LGBTQIA+ community circulated online. 

Hugh Hefner showed no reservations in his gay rights advocacies when he published the Crooked Man, a short story that showed a future where homosexuals oppressed heterosexuals. 

The Early Life and Legacy of Hugh Hefner

Most known to be the man behind the adult Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner had majorly profited from adult entertainment, starting from the 1960s with his first issue that included photos of Marilyn Monroe from which she received no compensation.

Born on April 9, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois, Hugh Marston Hefner emerged as the eldest of two children from a family of conservative Methodists. As he attained his high school education, not only did he become the student council president, but Hefner also established the school newspaper, hinting at his early talents in the field of journalism.

Before earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Illinois during the late 1940s, he joined the United States Army for two years. In the early 1950s, Hefner stayed briefly at his job at the Esquire magazine, solidifying his decision to leave when they refused his demand for a $5 raise.

Without a stable job, Hefner produced his publication with the aid of $8,000 from more than 40 investors. To ensure evident success for his first publication, he purchased full-color nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe as the centerfold of the first Playboy issue. With its release, it immediately sold more than 50,000 copies, pushing the Playboy to immediate fame.

Playboy soon expanded the scope of its magazine, adding articles and a more polished appearance. Soon, Playboy became a multimillion corporation and an esteemed international enterprise. He lived a life brimming with success, passing away in 2017. (Source: Biography

Hugh Hefner As a Gay Rights Advocate

In the early years of Playboy, Hefner released a short story entitled The Crooked Man, written by Charles Beaumont, in 1955. The Crooked Man depicts a fictional society where heterosexuals experienced injustice as homosexuals oppressed them, criminalizing heterosexual relationships. Rejected by Esquire due to the controversy it was bound to bring at that time, Hefner had no issues publishing it.


Faced with abundant amounts of hate mail and overwhelming controversy, Hefner continued to defend and show his support to The Crooked Man.

If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society, then the reverse was wrong, too.

Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner continued to show his advocacies for the LGBTQ+ community by supporting same-sex marriage, speaking out on the HIV/AIDS crisis during the 1980s, and incorporating an openly transgender model in Playboy.

Despite his advocacies, many stand by their view of Hefner being a misogynist due to the legacy he established by sexualizing women and damaging their rights. Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of the American LGBTQ Advocacy Group called GLAAD, expresses her dismay.

Hefner was not a visionary. He was a misogynist who built an empire on sexualizing women and mainstreaming stereotypes that caused irreparable damage to women’s rights and our entire culture.

Sarah Ellis

(Source: NCBC

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