John Lyon Burnside (1916-2008) is best known as Harry Hay’s life partner from 1962 to Hay’s death in 2002. Not long after they met, Burnside and Hay formed a group called the Circle of Loving Companions to promote gay rights and same-sex love. In the late 1970s the pair founded, along with Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker, the Radical Faeries,the counter-cultural movement that seeks to redefine queer identity through spirituality.
In secular life Burnside was the inventor of the teleidoscope, the darkfield kaleidoscope, and the Symmetricon. Because he rediscovered the mathematics behind kaleidoscope optics, for decades every maker of optically correct kaleidoscopes sold in the United States paid him royalties.
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