RIP Bill Brent

Bill Brent


I just found out that writer, editor, publisher and friend Bill Brent killed himself over the weekend. I don’t know any more than that…just that he commited suicide.

Bill was the publisher of The Black Book, a sexuality resource guide, and of Black Sheets, a punk queer underground sex zine and one of the first zines to publish my writing. He also founded Perverts Put Out, the long-running reading series at which I was a frequent reader for many years, and Black Books, the paperback publisher that published the third book in my Noirotica series. He was also a punk rock fan and a hell of a good friend.

Bill’s importance to the San Francisco community and his influence on my writing and life simply cannot be overestimated.

There is nothing I can say that would do anything close to justice to Bill’s life, work, and friendship. The best I can do is go back to the punk roots Bill and I shared…and quote Lester Bangs. Because at moments like this I don’t know what the fuck else to do.

“Everybody always talks about the poor homeless orphan waifs, but what about the homeless fathers? The time has come to call the fathers home from the stale curbstone shores. Sometimes they’re bad…But who then do they finally hurt but themselves? And when they give of themselves, they reaffirm what great art has always been: an act of love toward the whole human race. Then it becomes time to give at least a little love back.”

–Lester Bangs Reviewing Lou Reed’s The Bells, Rolling Stone, June 1979

The last post on Bill’s blog, from August 13, is a cheerful video of this Hawaiian slack-key guitarist — Bill lived in Hawaii for a time with his partner Puma. Bill said, “Very sunny tune, plus this guy’s playing made me laugh — so take two minutes of your life to enjoy this:”

And here, in case you need some words of wisdom, is a screencap of Bill’s page at Author’s Den. The text is like this:

“Each of us wants to hear someone shouting back as we scream into the abyss.” –profound Bill

“Every mind needs candy.” –goofy Bill

Bill Brent 2


Wishing you a beautiful day, and this time of all times, I really, really mean it.

Rest in peace, Bill…my heart is breaking.


9 thoughts on “RIP Bill Brent

  1. keith

    Bill was so good. Generous, gentle, consistent, responsible, so fucking supportive of so many of us, nurturing kink perv queer geek family around the Bay and everywhere. I am stunned and sad. Thank you Bill for your work and love.

  2. Elise Matthesen

    Bill. You made a difference. Over and over again. The bisexual extended-family-community-whateverthehell it is wouldn’t have been the same without you. You mattered.

    Damn it. It’s not like we can spare people, you know?

    Sad lioness is sad.

    1. thomasroche Post author

      Elise, thanks for your sentiments…Bill really did make a difference, in so many people’s lives and in the culture overall. The world won’t be the same without him, but then, it wouldn’t be the same without him. It’s so frustrating to know he’s gone.

    1. thomasroche Post author

      Thank you Thea, it is so good to hear from you. Your writing is some of the most vivid I remember from those years when I first knew Bill (and everyone in the scene). Thanks for your sentiments and I hope you’re doing well. Keep writing!

  3. David Steinberg

    I just found out about Bill’s death. I feel punched in the stomach, to say the least. Bill was one of the very special people, not only for what he did and what he contributed to the community and the world, but even more for who he was as a person. Funny, wise, generous, honest, playful, full of love of life (can I say that about someone who has committed suicide?), of irony, of contradiction, of truth in all it’s wonderful and horrible complexities. I cannot believe that he is gone, and gone in this way. The world has just become a much smaller place.

    1. thomasroche Post author

      Thanks for coming by, David. It is good to hear from you. It’s so true that the world feels smaller without Bill. It still boggles my mind. Hope you are well.

  4. Pingback: Bill Brent’s Memorial Tonight in San Francisco |

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