Herman Lynn Womack was born poor in Mississippi in 1923 and died poor in Florida in 1985. In between, though, he earned a philosophy Ph.D., became a respected college professor, began a gay publishing empire (the Guild Press and its many imprints) in Washington DC that had him dubbed “the first king of pornography,” and fought the United States Post Office, the court system, the FBI, the health department, and anyone else who stood in the way of his providing literature, photography, and art to gay men.
Womack lived a fascinating life and occupied a central position in 1960s gay publishing, including winning the 1962 Supreme Court case of Manual Enterprises v. Day, which confirmed that published materials directed toward gays and lesbians could not automatically be considered obscene. Despite this, he remains remarkably little known. Other than a few passing references in larger histories of the era and a couple of articles published in small circulation journals, Womack’s contributions have gone unmentioned.
The essays about Womack that I have published in the anthologies The Golden Age of Gay Fiction and 1960s Gay Pulp Fiction: The Misplaced Heritage only begin to scratch the surface, and there are still large gaps in our knowledge of who H. Lynn Womack was. Click on the “about this project” tab above to find out more about this project, which seeks to fill those gaps.