Scott Symons, Canadian-born author of Place d'Armes, died Monday in Toronto at age 75.
Place d'Armes, first published in 1967 by McClelland & Stewart, and re-released in 2005 by Insomniac Press, is known for its groundbreaking gay themes and experimental style.
"At a time when Toronto was still stiff and very narrow in its focus, he blew the doors open," Cormorant Books owner Marc Côté said of Symons.
"He deserves a lot of credit because in the late 1960s, before Pearson and Trudeau legalized homosexuality, he came bounding out of the closet."
Place d'Armes, featuring a character who moves from Toronto to Montreal to escape repressive Anglo-Canadian morality, was presented as a novel within a journal in an unusual stream-of-consciousness style.
It also involved a male prostitute who becomes an angel of redemption, an idea that repelled many reviewers at the time.
"It is the manifesto of a homosexual ... and Symons mixes it all up with religion, with his hero attending mass at Notre Dame, even taking communion," a reviewer wrote in the Montreal Gazette.
By the time the book was published in 1967, Symons had scandalized Toronto by leaving his wife and young son, and running off to Mexico with a 17-year-old male lover.
Born Hugh Scott Brennan Symons in Toronto on July 13, 1933, Symons was raised in Rosedale and had degrees from the University of Toronto, Cambridge University and The Sorbonne.
Evades Mexican police
In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked as a reporter, for the Quebec Chronicle Telegraph and La Presse. He was known for chronicling Quebec's Quiet Revolution.
He then became curator of the Canadian collection at the Royal Ontario Museum where he wrote Heritage, A Romantic Look at Early Canadian Furniture.
After leaving Canada, Symons had to evade Mexican police who sought him at the request of his family and his lover's family.
He moved to Morocco, where he lived for 25 years.
He worked for 15 years on another novel, Helmet of Flesh, about a man who goes to Morocco seeking erotic experiences. It was published in 1986.
Symons is also author of a satiric novel set in Toronto, Civic Square, and Marrakech, which was published in French. His essays are collected in Dear Reader.
Symons came back to live in Toronto in 2000 until his death.