Farewell to two prominent gay activists

Aristide "AJ" Laurent and Axel Axgil

The international gay community has lost two pioneering activists.

Gay journalist Aristide “AJ” Laurent died at his Los Angeles home on Oct 26, and Danish activist Axel Axgil died in Copenhagen on Oct 29.

Laurent, who died at 70 after a long battle with cancer, was best known as the founder of The Advocate magazine, which he helped launch in 1967 as the Los Angeles Advocate.

An early campaigner for gay rights in the United States, Laurent took part in the pre-Stonewall Black Cat protests against police persecution of gays.

Axgil, a Danish gay activist who died at 96 following complications from a fall, was an early crusader for same-sex marriage in Denmark.

Axgil exchanged vows with his partner, Eigil (who died in 1995), along with 11 other same-sex couples, on Oct 1, 1989, in the first legal same-sex union in the world.

His activism began much earlier, however; he was the founder, in 1948, of one of Europe’s first gay rights groups, the Association of 1948.

In 1955, Axgil (then Axel Lundahl-Madsen) was put in prison on pornography charges for running a gay modelling agency that sold pictures of naked men.

Check out Xtra’s video interview with Axgil here.

Danny Glenwright was formerly Xtra’s managing editor. He has a background in human rights journalism and media training and a masters in international cooperation and development from Italy’s University of Pavia. Before coming to Xtra, Danny was the editor of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary news service in South Africa and a regular contributor to South Africa’s Mail and Guardian news. He has also worked in Sierra Leone, Palestine, Namibia, the United Kingdom and Rwanda.

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