Thank goodness for Armistead Maupin.
The San Francisco-based author, who turns 76 today, made his career writing a column about life in the city for The San Francisco Chronicle. That column, Tales of the City served as the basis for one of the seminal sagas of queer life in the 20th century.
Maupin grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and served in the US Navy before he decided to pursue a career in writing. He moved to San Francisco in 1971 and began penning Tales of the City three years later.
Tales of the City won praise for its groundbreaking portrayal of life in San Francisco, with an emphasis on LGBTQ characters. The earliest of Maupin’s newspaper installments he later collected into novels, which also furthered the popularity of the series. In all, Maupin would pen nine novels in the Tales series, the first three of which would also be adapted into popular miniseries beginning in 1993. Netflix released a follow-up series in 2019, which integrated original material and characters as well as plot points from Maupin’s novels.
Maupin never hid his sexuality throughout his career, involving himself in activism beginning in the 1970s. That work continued throughout the AIDS crisis, and into the era of marriage equality.
At 76, Maupin has yet to retire, so we can only hope for more original work from his writing desk. His Tales of the City portrays queer life as something of a utopia, which gives us both a fantasy to indulge in, and a reality to strive toward.