Serena Freewomyn

Better Know a Contributor: Patricia Nell Warren

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | August 17, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Outsports, Patricia Nell Warren

Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.

In the midst of Olympic mania, I thought it would be appropriate to spotlight our resident sports writer, Patricia Nell Warren. Patricia grew up on a Montana ranch and started publishing poetry and short fiction at age 17. Her bestselling gay novels -- notably The Front Runner, Harlan's Race and Billy's Boy -- started their print history in 1974 and continue today with groundbreaking choices of themes and characters. As an activist, she has been involved in women's rights and free-speech cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. In recent years she turned to provocative editorials, writing about post-9/11 issues, youth, elders, AIDS politics and other issues.

Patricia is a regularly featured writer at, and her latest book, The Lavender Locker Room, is an anthology of historical essays about LGBT athletes over the past 3000 years. Follow me after the jump to read more about Patricia's love of sports and life in Southern California.

1. How did you get involved with TBP?
Bil and I had been in touch for some years previously -- he likes my novels and commentaries. We developed a warm, if occasional, e-mail relationship. When I was running for city council in West Hollywood last year, he helped me put out the word for needed political support. Finally, when Bil and his partner were moving towards launching Bilerico as a "nationwide" blog, he asked me if I would be one of the contributors. I've moved heavily into commentary, so I was very pleased to be asked, and to have such a creative place to sound off.

2. What was your coming out experience like?
Long-drawn-out and agonizing, and mired for many years in a cover marriage. . . like many other coming-outs in my generation. I finally got it done in 1973. Writing The Front Runner, which I started to do in the winter of 1972, gave me a lot of momentum and courage. When William Morrow bought publishing rights to the book in spring 1973, the advance paid for my divorce and a new start in life.

3. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 10 years old, little by little, while reading wonderful books in my parents' home library. I was a precocious kid, and read adult books as well as children's literature. My parents didn't censor my reading. After writing a couple of little short stories at that age, it occurred to me that I, too, could have some books on the shelves like those authors I admired. Especially the women writers, like Willa Cather, Pearl Buck, Margaret Mitchell, Edith Wharton (idols of my 1930s generation).

4. What is the most exciting thing about being a sports writer?
With all their flaws and corruption and commercialism, sports are an amazing mirror of our society. Writing about sports keeps my finger on a specific pulse that is very revealing about where our country and our time is going.

5. Who do you predict will come out on top in this year's Olympic Games? For me, I'm counting on Australia to win the gold in women's basketball. But that's because I have a big gay crush on Penny Taylor. And they've got Lauryn Jackson to boot.
China is definitely doing to give the U.S. a run for their money on medals. Their athletes are under unimaginable pressure. As always, there are going to be upsets and surprises. I am hoping that Germany's Imke Duplitzer (openly lesbian) will gold in women's epee (fencing) -- I've been a fan of hers since writing about her for Lavender Locker Room. I have a huge personal bias for the equestrian sports -- the U.S. has strong contenders in Anne Kursinski and Champ for show jumping, and Debbie McDonald and her wonderful mare Brentina for dressage.

6. What's your favorite thing to do in the summertime?
Writing and gardening...same as wintertime. I live in California, so I get to plant lettuce in December.


Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors
Alex Blaze
Don Sherfick
Sara Whitman
Brent Hartinger
Jessica Hoffman
Cathy Renna
Waymon Hudson
Kate Clinton
Bruce Parker
Jerame Davis
Mercedes Allen
< AHREF="" target="_blank">Monica Roberts
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Steve Ralls
Nancy Polikoff
Marti Abernathey
Nina Smith

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I have to say- The Front Runner was the first gay novel I ever read. I have loved it and Patricia ever since. We are lucky to have as part of the Bilerico family!

PNW is a gem. 'Nuff said. What a privilege to be able to read her newest/latest here.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 18, 2008 4:36 AM

"The Front Runner" was the first book I and my partner read together in 1976. Cheers Patricia!

Patricia Nell Warren is my most admired TBP contributor, and unless I am super-busy (or super-depressed --- I have that problem sometimes) I always am sure to read her posts. They are consistently thorough, comprehensive, thought-stimulating, and often on unusual and unexpected topics. Reading her posts is often fascinating, like watching a fine installment of NOVA. I feel honored to have exchanged email with her (even when she is ever-so-kindly pointing out a few of the gaffs I've made here). Writers of any stripe don't come much better than Patricia!

I couldn't have said that better myself, A.J. She'll always be a star in my eyes. I'm honored to have her on the site. It's getting to work with one of my heroes!