John Lyon Burnside III


John Lyon Burnside III (November 2, 1916 – September 14, 2008) was the inventor of the teleidoscope, the darkfield kaleidoscope and the Symmetricon, and, because he rediscovered the math behind kaleidoscope optics, for decades, every maker of optically correct kaleidoscopes sold in the US paid him royalties. He was the partner of Harry Hay for 40 years, from 1962 until Hay's death in 2002. He lived in San Francisco California, until his death from complications of brain cancer on September 14, 2008.

An only child born in Seattle, he was raised by his mother after his father left the family; being poor, she periodically placed her son in the care of orphanages. He served briefly in the Navy, and settled in Los Angeles in the 1940s.

Burnside married Edith Sinclair in Los Angeles, the pair had no children.

Burnside later met Harry Hay in 1962 at ONE Incorporated; the two fell in love and became life partners. Burnside and his partner Hay formed a group in the early 1960s called the Circle of Loving Companions that promoted gay rights and gay love. In 1966 they were major planners of one of the first gay parades, a protest against exclusion of homosexuals from the military, held in Los Angeles. In 1967, they appeared as a gay couple on the Joe Pyne television show.

In the late 1970s, they founded, along with Don Kilhefner and Mitch Walker, the Radical Faeries.

Burnside died Sunday, September 14, 2008 at the age of 91.