I first learned about H. Lynn Womack and his Guild Press around 2004, when I discovered an auction on Ebay for the book Of Hot Nights…and Damp Beds by J.J. Proferes (a frequent Guild Press author). The auction’s description mentioned that the book had been published in Washington DC in 1965, from an address in DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Living right outside DC, which has traditionally had a public reputation as a buttoned-down town, I was immediately intrigued by the idea that a gay publishing house had been operating in the mid-1960s in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol building.
Purchasing that book has led me on what is now a 10-year quest to collect Guild Press and related publications and to research H. Lynn Womack’s story. The relatively small body of writing about Womack’s work tends to focus solely on the Supreme Court decision Manual Enterprises v. Day (admittedly an important decision in obscenity law and gay history; see the “About H. Lynn Womack” tab for more information). The even smaller amount of writing about Womack as a person usually begins and ends in mentioning his weight, his being albino, and the seeming incongruity of a highly educated man being closely associated with pornography. While these things are all true and important, they can reduce Womack to a caricature when his experiences are much more complicated and have many intriguing connections to the history of how gay men, in particular, experienced their lives from the 1940s to the 1970s.
It is my goal through my research and writing to tell both Dr. Womack’s personal story and this broader history. To find out more about my work and to contact me, particularly if you knew Dr. Womack or otherwise have information that might be of assistance, please see the “about the researcher” and “contact” tabs near the top of the page.