Scope and arrangement
The collection reflects Mass's activities as a gay physician, writer, and activist, chiefly in New York City during the 1980s. Nearly all of the materials in the collection have some connection to Mass's interest in gay men's health and sexuality, their treatment by health professionals, the depiction of homosexuality in the media and the oppression and/or invisibility of gays in the music world and American society in general. The papers include personal, professional, and family correspondence, 1966-1995; subject files; copies of his published and unpublished writings in the form of notes, typescripts, proofs and published copies; audio tapes of interviews, videotapes of public affairs television programming and documentaries; and some personal materials, including clippings of articles about Mass and his work, photographs of Mass at parties, conferences, protests, on vacation, as well as professional portraits, and ephemera and from gay pride celebrations and fund-raising activities.
The collection contains little material documenting his career as a physician (other than medical writing).
Correspondents include fellow gay writers and critics, members of the public writing to comment on his work, medical colleagues, psychiatrists, and friends. Correspondence regards publication of his writing, his letters to the editor, and personal matters. Family correspondence includes chiefly cards and letters from his family along with letters to his parents written during his college years, and correspondence with his sister during the 1990s-2000s.
The Lawrence Mass papers are arranged in seven series:
The correspondence contains letters to and from gay writers, editors and publishers, physicians, psychologists, personal friends and family. The chiefly incoming letters are filed alphabetically for those correspondents represented by more than one letter, or to whose letter was attached additional materials. The correspondence is not extensive and there are rarely more than a few letters from any single correspondent. The exceptions are the letters from Nathan Fain, his close friend and co-founder of the GMHC, who wrote to Mass frequently from Texas in 1982 about his research and investigative writing on the AIDS crisis. Smaller number of personal letters from 1983-87 including three snapshots of Fain performing in a drag show. Other correspondents include Dennis Altman, Robert Chesley, Martin Duberman, John Cavendish (Mass's first lover), and single letters from Randy Shilts, Virginia Apuzzo, Ed Koch, Quentin Crisp, Terrence McNally, and Ned Rorem. A complete list can be found in the container list. Along with the correspondence are filed typescripts, clippings, reprints, and other printed material by and about the correspondent. Additionally, some folders contain drafts of short articles and essays sent by the correspondent for Mass's review.
The family correspondence contains several letters between Mass and his parents while an undergraduate at University of California at Berkeley. The remaining correspondence are letters and greeting cards from his mother, step-father, sister, and nephew through the 1980s-2008.
Subject files material collected while researching various topics, most connected with gay men's sexuality and health. The subject files contain clippings, journal articles, holograph notes, newsletters and pamphlets collected by Mass on topics that interested him and/or on which he planned to write, including his contracts and correspondence with his literary agent, Norman Laurila. Additionally, there are files containing personal remembrances and obituaries of friends who have died. There are files on homosexuality as it relates to issues of health, psychiatry, sexual practices, and the bear subculture, as well as writings by and about prominent figures in the gay community and their opponents. In addition, there are files for newsletters and other mailings from human rights and medical organizations such as Gay Caucus of the American Psychiatric Association, Gay Psychiatrists of New York, East End Gay Organization for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and New York Physicians for Human Rights. Also present are two files related to a planned study of singers' health to be undertaken by Mass and Conrad L. Osborne and one file on Mass's participation in the documentary "Gay Sex in the 70's."
Mass's writings are arranged in three sections: Writings on AIDS, Essays and Reviews, and Books. This series contains both published and unpublished work. The section on AIDS contains a copy of his first report on the epidemic, which appeared in the New York Native in 1981, and several editions of the booklet, Medical Answers About AIDS, and its predecessors, which he wrote for the GMHC in 1984 and regularly updated. There are also copies of other articles he wrote for the Native, a book manuscript "Chronicles of Violaceous Death" which was to contain his articles on AIDS and some other health-related topics, and printed matter and clippings which he collected about the epidemic.
The essays and reviews section contains drafts, typescripts, and published copies of his shorter writings, most of which appeared in the gay press. There is a typescript of his unproduced screenplay, "Confessions of a Mask," about author Yukio Mishima. This subseries includes material relating to Mass's column "Bears and Heath," which was regularly published in American Bear and A Bear's Life and an article on Hepatitis C for New York magazine. Also contains research materials, holograph notes, and drafts for a project entitled "Health and Health Care of the Professional Singer in the United States". Also included are short, autobiographical pieces like "Entering Lawrence." In addition, there are typescripts of talks Mass gave at conferences and symposiums on matters related to healthcare and homosexuality.
Book related materials include notes, proposals, synopses, drafts, typescripts, author's proofs, and uncorrected book proofs of his autobiographical work Confessions of a Jewish Wagnerite (originally titled Synchronicities). Also present are drafts and published copies of the chapters as they appeared in Christopher Street. The series also contains materials about his two-volume collection of interviews conducted between 1979 and 1989, Dialogues of the Sexual Revolution. These include drafts of Mass's introduction to the book, comments about the manuscript by Martin Duberman and Jeffrey Escoffier, correspondence with the publisher, Haworth Press, copies of Haworth's catalogs, publicity materials and advertisements for the book, and clippings of the reviews and notices it received. Following these materials are files for sixteen of the interviews Mass conducted for the book, including one with Terry Stein that was not published. The files, which vary in size and completeness, include transcripts of the interview, correspondence with the interviewees, lists of the questions to be asked, responses by interviewees who received the questions in advance, copies of their publications or clippings about them, and Mass's notes on them and their work. Audiotapes of the interviews with Martin Duberman, John Boswell, Rosa von Praunheim, Paul Schrader, Richard Plant, John d'Emilio and Estelle Freedman, Ned Rorem, and George Heymont can be found in Series V. Artifacts and audiovisual materials.
Additionally, there are files on each contributor for We Must Love One Another Or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer and transcripts of an interview between Mass and Kramer, with holograph corrections. There is also correspondence regarding the controversies surrounding Michelangelo Signorile, a contributor in the book, who was publicly criticized by the group Sex Panic. Material for Mass's unpublished book, Musical Closets includes transcripts of an interview with Lou Harrison.
This series contains typescripts and page proofs of published and unpublished literary work sent to Mass for criticism, comment, or review. Works include Ned Rorem's "Knowing When To Stop", "Benjamin Britten by Humphrey Carpenter", and the poem "I Ate Borscht" by Michael Moshe Gans. Works by Larry Kramer include the play "Four Friends" as well as the original draft of the play, titled "Sissies' Scrapbook"; "We Are Not Crumbs; We Must Not Accept Crumbs", remarks made by Kramer on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of ACT UP; and "The Bloods", a short story. Also includes a typescript of the play "Signs" by Paul Schmidt, Mass's review and the typescript for "Sexual Minorities and Selection of a Primary Care Physician", "Murder on the High C's" a book proposal by George Heymont", among other works. Many of the typescripts contain holograph revisions by Mass.
- 1979-2005, undated
Includes Mass's collection of autographs and pictures of famous composers, conductors, and singers, and awards and certificates regarding his medical practice.
Photographs are unsorted and primarily are snapshots that document Mass's personal life, his book signings and readings, protests at the FDA, the AIDS quilt in Washington, D.C., and a dedication by GMHC at the Colonial House Inn. Personal photographs include photographs of vacations Mass took with Kantrowitz, various bear social events, parties in Mass and Kantrowitz's Manhattan apartment, and Lou Harrison and Bill Colvig at their home in California. Also includes pictures of Mass during his college years, pictures of his family; and professional portraits of Kantrowitz and Mass. Notable subjects include Larry Kramer, Vito Russo, Martin Duberman, Maxine Wolfe, and Jim Owles.