The Bay Area Reporter has lost a cherished colleague, Marcus Hernandez, who died late Thursday, October 8 at the age of 77. Known around the world as “Mister Marcus” he created a widely-read weekly column about the BDSM/leather community in October of 1971.

“Mr. Marcus has been a San Francisco institution for decades,” said B.A.R. publisher Thomas E. Horn. “He unapologetically brought his message of pride for the LGBT community in general and his beloved leather community in particular not only to San Francisco but to all the United States and even the world.

“Words cannot express our feeling of loss here at the Bay Area Reporter. His determination, sardonic wit, and compassion have sustained us through the ups and the downs of these last many years. When Bob Ross died in 2003, Marcus became the patriarch of the B.A.R. family. We will miss him terribly.”

Also a writer at the time for The Advocate, Hernandez brought attention to a segment of the LGBT community many wanted to keep in the closet. He used his pen to breakdown stereotypes about leathermen and embraced women into the fold of the kink community.

Part of the enjoyment in writing his weekly column was that he viewed it as a platform by which to educate non-leather members of the LGBT community.

“I’m trying to help people see that it’s not what people perceived it to be – queens pissing on each other,” Mr. Hernandez told the B.A.R. in an interview last month. “The thing was, you do your thing, I’ll do mine and no one gets hurt.”

“There still are people who feel leather is kinky stuff,” he added.

He also helped to raise thousands of dollars for LGBT charities and championed the AIDS Emergency Fund during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. In 1972 he became the first Emperor for the Imperial Court, a philanthropic LGBT organization.

A memorial to celebrate Mr. Hernandez’s life is planned for Saturday, November 21 at 1 p.m. at City Nights, 715 Harrison Street in San Francisco.