One of the great figures in the intellectual and political history of Toronto's gay and lesbian people.
One of thousands who had fled to Canada from the United States during the Vietnam War (he was just 19 when he arrived), in 1977 he joined a small group of Toronto lesbian and gay activists who were publishing The Body Politic, a 'gay liberation journal' that had soared to prominence both in Canada and abroad. He helped make it the best designed gay publication of its day, and his writing, always passionate and smart, helped shape the gay community's politics and strategies.
Like many other refugees who have settled in Toronto, he was passionate about the city that had embraced him, eventually becoming a Canadian citizen and editing, in 1972, The Open Gate: Toronto Union Station, a book that helped prevent the destruction of that iconic building.
His web site, rbebout.com, almost Proustian in its length, features as just one of its many chapters a loving, astute and vibrant history of the city's Queen Street, east and west. His decades-long correspondence with novelist and essayist Jane Rule is being edited for publication.
After The Body Politic ceased publication in 1987, he devoted his considerable energies to AIDS work, in particular with the AIDS Committee of Toronto.
In 1999, he received the Ontario AIDS Network Honour Roll Award for his contributions to preventing the spread of HIV. He spent much of his last year confined to his apartment, but never lost his taste for cute boys, good scotch and animated conversation on topics ranging from the virtues of pornography to the banality of gay marriage to the celebration of, as he put it, "seeing the world from a distinctly queer place -- a perspective oblique, maybe, but precisely because of that informed, revealing, powerful."