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Joseph Hansen (1923-2004) wrote nearly forty novels in the course of a long career, but is best known for the groundbreaking series of twelve Dave Brandstetter crime novels. Brandstetter was a pioneering character: a tough private eye and happily uncloseted gay man. Hansen was an active campaigner for equal rights (though he disliked the word 'gay' and always described himself as 'homosexual').

During a life of activism Joseph founded the pioneering gay journal Tangents in 1965, hosted a radio show called Homosexuality Today, and was involved in setting up the first Gay Pride parade in Hollywood in 1970, the same year that the first Brandstetter novel was published. In 1992, he won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. He died in 2004.