100 Heroes: Boyd McDonald

The gay man who published for an under-served community.

100 Heroes: Boyd McDonald

Boyd McDonald was the creator, editor, and publisher of the long-running x-rated gay zine STH or Straight to Hell.

Early Life

McDonald was born in in 1925 in South Dakota.

After high school, McDonald went to Harvard and studied American history and literature.

McDonald is quoted as saying that “of all the benefits I got from Harvard, I am most grateful for the opportunity it gave me, albeit unwittingly, to come out fast and thoroughly.” Contrary to the usual beliefs about pre-Stonewall gay sex, and despite sodomy being a felony in Massachusetts, late-night gay parties were frequent. In his words, “these parties quickly turned into orgies.” Many “straight” boys attended, including one year most of the football team. His “first serious lover” was a straight football player, met at an orgy. “When I was at Harvard, I was glad to be homosexual… I thought it was extraordinary and heterosexuality was ordinary and I was lucky to be chosen for this minor elite.”

After graduation, he lived in New York City.

McDonald describes his time in New York: “My principal activity was taking advantage of the city’s public sexual recreation facilities. As a sideline I worked as a hack writer at Time, Forbes, IBM, and even more sordid companies.”

Straight To Hell

In 1973, McDonald founded his long-running zine STH or Straight to Hell, which consisted primarily of readers’ submissions of their sexual experiences, together with Boyd’s sexual or political commentary and single male pictures, reader-sent or from studios such as Old Reliable or Athletic Model Guild. He also published a number of anthologies of reader-contributed true sex histories.

At its peak, STH had a circulation of ten thousand.

Later Years

McDonald died in September 1993, two months after completing his final book, Scum.

He died of complications from emphysema.

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