Robert Taylor – author of The Innocent (1997), All We Have Is Now (hardback in 2002, paperback in 2006), Revelation and Other Stories (2002), Whose Eye Is on Which Sparrow? (2004), and A Few Hints and Clews (2007) – was born in Abilene, Texas, on July 22, 1940. He lived in a number of towns and cities in Texas while he was growing up, but thinks of San Antonio as his hometown.
As soon as he learned to read, he fell in love with books and started spending as much time with them as he could. Working on his high school newspaper solidified his interest in writing and led him to major in journalism at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock. He was managing editor of the college newspaper his senior year and president of a number of campus organizations. In recognition of this, he was selected to appear in the 1961-1962 edition of Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges. He graduated with high honors from Texas Tech in the spring of 1962 and was named Outstanding Male Graduate in Journalism.
He had joined ROTC as a way to help pay for college and upon graduation was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Army Intelligence. Graduating first in his class at Intelligence school led to an assignment at the Pentagon, in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. The war in Vietnam kept him from being released after his original commitment of three years was up. He was promoted to first lieutenant and then captain. He was sent to Vietnam in October 1966 and was assigned to the Intelligence staff of the Commanding General at Headquarters, U. S. Army Vietnam. At the end of his year there, he was awarded a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service.
When he returned to the United States in October 1967, he was released from active duty and went back to Washington, D.C., to live. There, he worked as editor of the NHSC Newsletter, published by the National Home Study Council; assistant editor of Music Educators Journal, published by the Music Educators National Conference; editor of Transportation USA, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation; and deputy text editor of America Illustrated, a Russian-language magazine published by the U.S. Information Agency and distributed in the Soviet Union. Under his editorship, Transportation USA was awarded a Blue Pencil Award for best magazine by the National Association of Government Communicators in June of 1980. In 1986, he was given an Outstanding Alumnus Award by the School of Mass Communications at Texas Tech.
During his years in the Army, Taylor had lived with the constant fear that his homosexuality would be discovered, which would have led to an automatic dishonorable discharge. Once he was a civilian again, he was determined to leave that kind of fear behind. Although all the institutions of society were, at that time, still united in their abhorrence of homosexuality, he nevertheless told his family, friends, and coworkers that he was gay and has lived openly ever since.
Soon after the Stonewall Revolution began in 1969, Taylor joined the Gay Activists Alliance and helped with organizing petitions, boycotts, and letter-writing campaigns, all aimed at ending the blatant discrimination then prevalent against gays and lesbians throughout the United States. In June of 1975, at one of the first Gay Pride Day celebrations in Washington, D.C., he was handing out information on GAA when he met Ted Nowick. They were soon sharing an apartment, bought a house the next year, and are still happily together today. Nowick, a sculptor who studied at the Corcoran Gallery School of Art in Washington, has spent the years since then working in clay, marble, wood, bronze, and cast resins.
Taylor left the world of magazine editing in the fall of 1986 and moved, with Nowick, to Blue Hill, Maine, in order to pursue his lifelong dream of writing fiction. He started with a group of short stories, one of which became a novella. He liked the room to maneuver he found in the longer form, and began writing novels.
Taylor’s first novel, The Innocent, was published in the fall of 1997 by Fithian Press in Santa Barbara, California, and is still in print in a second printing. His second novel, All We Have Is Now, was published in hardback by St. Martin’s Press in New York City in June 2002 (later republished in paperback by The Haworth Press in 2006). Eleven short stories and the novella, with the title of Revelation and Other Stories, were published by Puckerbrush Press in Orono, Maine, in the fall of 2002. A third novel, Whose Eye Is On Which Sparrow?, published in 2004 by The Haworth Press in Binghamton, New York, was named the “Best Gay Romance of 2004” by the InsightOut book-of-the-month club and won the 2005 Independent Publisher Book Award for the best book of the year with a gay or lesbian theme, including both fiction and nonfiction. Taylor’s most recent book, a novel called A Few Hints and Clews, published in the spring of 2007 by The Haworth Press, was a finalist for a 2008 Lambda Literary Award.
In May 1994, an essay by Taylor on the history of gay rights in America was included in Gay Pride: Photographs from Stonewall to Today, a book of photographs by Fred McDarrah published by A Cappella Books. A short story, “One Last Drink on the Piazza,” was published in the Winter/Spring 1999 issue of The Peninsula Review. Another, “Death Is Our Destination,” was published in the Winter/Spring 2002 issue of Puckerbrush Review. An essay by Taylor called “The Story of an Almost Marriage” was included in an anthology called I Do/I Don’t: Queers on Marriage, published in 2004 by Suspect Thoughts Press in San Francisco, California. This book won the 2005 Lambda Literary Award for best nonfiction anthology.
From 1994 to the spring of 2008, Taylor was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Pierre Monteux Memorial Foundation, based in Hancock, Maine, which sponsors a six-week school for conductors and orchestra musicians each summer. He served as the Foundation’s treasurer for four years and then as vice president. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Down East AIDS Network, based in Ellsworth, Maine, from 2002 to 2003. From 2001 to 2004, he was a member of the National Council of America Speaks Out, an organization whose mission was to “promote respect and understanding among persons of differing sexual orientations.”
In November 2003, Taylor and Nowick moved to the Kendal at Oberlin retirement community in Oberlin, Ohio. Nowick now concentrates on making mobiles in his studio at the Ginko Gallery on Main Street in Oberlin, which also displays and sells his works. For many years, Nowick was involved with the summer art program at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
In Oberlin, Taylor is an Affiliate Scholar at Oberlin College and is on the Board of Trustees of the Bill Long Foundation, which gives small grants each year to worthy causes in the Oberlin area. He is currently serving as the Board’s vice president and as chair of the Causes Committee. In 2008, he served as president of the Kendal at Oberlin Residents’ Association. In 2009, he was chosen to be one of the three resident members of Kendal at Oberlin’s Board of Directors. In January of 2010, he was appointed Secretary of the Board, which makes him a member of the Board’s Executive and Governance Committees. He is chair of the Board’s Marketing and Admissions Committee and a member of its Master Planning Committee and Committee on Philanthropy.
In Oberlin, Taylor is an Affiliate Scholar at Oberlin College. From 2003 to 2013, he was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bill Long Foundation, which gives small grants each year to worthy causes in the Oberlin area. He served as the Board’s vice president and, for many of those years, as chair of its Causes Committee. In 2008, he served as president of the Kendal at Oberlin Residents’ Association. From 2009 to 2014, he was one of three resident members of Kendal at Oberlin’s Board of Directors. In January of 2010, he was appointed Secretary of the Board, which made him a member of the Board’s Executive and Governance Committees, and he became chair of the Board’s Marketing and Admissions Committee. He was also a member of its Master Planning Committee and Committee on Philanthropy.
In 2010, Taylor was asked to join the Visiting Committee (governing body) of the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, and in 2013 also joined the Advisory Council of the Friends of the Oberlin College Library. He was elected president of that organization in November 2015. Early in 2015, he joined the Board of the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, also in Oberlin, and is a member of its Governance Committee.
At Kendal at Oberlin, Taylor is the editor of Eureka!, a creative arts magazine that is published three times a year; is responsible for rotating art exhibits in the Kendal Gallery; is a member of the Play Selection Committee and also directs and performs in several of the play readings presented at Kendal six times each year.
On April 26, 2014, Robert Taylor and Ted Nowick were married in Cooperstown, New York, just two months before the 39th anniversary of their time together
Taylor was first listed in Who’s Who in America in 2002 and in Who’s Who in the World in 2003.