Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Gay studies expert Louis Crompton dies


Gay studies expert Louis Crompton. Photo: Courtesy Luis Diaz-Perdomo
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East Bay resident and gay studies expert Louis Crompton, Ph.D., died in El Cerrito, California on July 11. He was 84.  

The cause of death was cancer, said his partner, Luis Diaz-Perdomo.

Mr. Crompton was born in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada, on April 5, 1925. He was the son of Clarence Crompton, master mariner, and Mabel Crompton. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a master's degree in mathematics in 1948, and from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in English in 1954. After teaching mathematics at the University of British Columbia and English at the University of Toronto, he joined the English department at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1955, retiring in 1989. In 1959 he taught as visiting professor at the University of Chicago and in 1961 at the University of California at Berkeley.  He especially enjoyed teaching graduate students and mentoring candidates for the doctorate.

His fields of specialization included 19th century British literature and gay studies. In 1966 he was awarded the Frank H. Woods Foundation Fellowship to do research on Bernard Shaw at the British Museum. His book on Shaw's plays won him the national Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism for 1969. In 1970 his pioneering course in gay studies became an issue in that year's state elections; one legislator not averse to controversy introduced a bill banning the teaching about homosexuality at any state college. The bill failed.

In 1974 Mr. Crompton founded the Gay and Lesbian Caucus for the Modern Languages, which attracted a large membership. In 1985 the University of California Press published his Byron and Greek Love , which was widely reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic. His last book, Homosexuality and Civilization , published by the Harvard University Press, covered 2,500 years of Western history and was awarded the Bonnie Zimmerman and Vern L. Bullough prize of the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality award for 2003.

Diaz-Perdomo said that there would be a documentary coming out next year in which Mr. Crompton participated.

In addition to his partner, Mr. Crompton is survived by his brother Gordon Crompton, sister-in-law Marion Crompton, and his nephew Robert Crompton of St. Catharines, Ontario, and by his niece Nancy Crompton, New Westminister, British Columbia.

Memorial donations can be made to the Louis Crompton Scholarship Fund for GLBT Students, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, Nebraska 65808.

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