LGBT Info

Joe Randolph "J. R." Ackerley (4 November 1896 – 4 June 1967) was a British writer and editor. Starting with the BBC the year after its founding in 1927, he was promoted to literary editor of The Listener, its weekly magazine, where he served for more than two decades. He published many emerging poets and writers who became influential in Great Britain. He was openly homosexual, a rarity in his time when homosexual activity was forbidden by law and socially ostracized.

Ackerley's extramarital half-sister was Sally Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster.

Sexuality

Ackerley was openly homosexual after his parents' deaths, having realized his homosexuality while interned in Switzerland during the First World War. Ackerley plumbed his sexuality in his writings. He belonged to a circle of notable literary homosexuals. They flouted convention, specifically the homophobia that kept gay men in the closet or exposed openly gay men to legal prosecution.

While never finding the "Ideal Friend" he wrote of so often (at least in human form), he had many long-term relationships. Ackerley was a "twank", a term used by sailors and guardsmen to describe a man who paid for their sexual services. He described the ritual of picking up and entertaining a young guardsman, sailor or labourer. Forster warned him, "Joe, you must give up looking for gold in coal mines."

His memoir serves as a guide to the sexuality of a gay man of Ackerley's generation. W. H. Auden, in his review of My Father and Myself, speculates that Ackerley enjoyed the "brotherly" sexual act of mutual masturbation rather than penetration. Ackerley described himself as "quite impenetrable".