Red Jordan Arobateau

Red Jordan Arobateau Finding Aid

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Red Jordan Arobateau

Red Jordan Arobateau Fonds

Red Jordan Arobateau (1943-2021) was an American author, poet, playwright, visual artist, and trans man.  The fonds primarily consists of records related to Red Jordan Arobateau’s life as an author, poet, and playwright. These include early and late drafts of written works. The fonds also contains some personal papers, photographs, audio-visual materials, and several artefacts.

Personal Life

Arobateau was born on November 15, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. His father was Honduran and mother was African American. He began writing stories at the age of 13 as a form of self-expression, during what he has described as a turbulent childhood. During his adolescence, Arobateau began frequenting gay bars at a time when it was illegal to engage in same-sex relationships. In 1967, after briefly living in New York City, Arobateau moved to San Francisco.

Literary Life

In San Francisco, Arobateau wrote extensively. He began producing a large body of street lit, erotica, and autobiographical works. Arobateau had difficulties finding a publisher for his writing, and took to self-publishing, including hand-making and distributing his work in lesbian bars, women’s bookstores, and on the street. He funded his writing mostly by working various jobs, including as a karate teacher, cashier, office clerk, and a housekeeper.

Over the years, Arobateau began to receive more attention in lesbian and feminist literary circles and his writing began to be picked up by small publishers. Additionally, his short stories and poetry have been included in anthologies such as, Out from Under: Sober Dykes & Our Friends (1978), True to Life Adventure Stories (1978), Daughters of Africa (1992), and Off the Rag: Lesbians Writing on Menopause (1996). He has also appeared in documentaries such as Before Stonewall (1984), Nobody’s People: Portrait of a Christian Pornographer (1992), as well as Transgender Tuesdays: A Clinic in the Tenderloin (2012).

Final Years

In 2019, Arobateau became the first person to move into the Marcy Adelman and Jeanette Gurevitch Community, an LGBTQ+ friendly senior housing initiative.

By the end of his life, Arobateau had produced over 60 paintings and 80 literary works.