James W. Fugaté was born in Missouri on February 13, 1922. Fugaté was still a child when his mother died and, having never met his father, was relocated several times before a foster couple decided to raise him. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Fugaté studied professional writing at a university, but soon dropped out and moved to New York City where he earned a living writing advertising copy for television.
His experience in the Navy was the inspiration for his book, the groundbreaking novel, Quatrefoil, first published in 1950. Written under the pseudonym, James Barr, Quatrefoil is hailed as one of the first novels to present a frank and positive depiction of same-sex love. Following the success of Quatrefoil, he published a volume of short stories, Derricks (1951), and the play, Game of Fools (1955).
During the Korean War, Fugaté reenlisted in the U.S. Navy, but he was discharged when a background check by Naval Intelligence revealed him to be the author of Quatrefoil. Following the incident, he moved to Los Angeles where he became aware of ONE, Inc., the Mattachine Society and the early gay rights movement. As an early activist, he contributed a number of articles to homophile periodicals--such as ONE Magazine, Der Kreis ( The Circle) and Mattachine Review--throughout the 1950s. By the mid-1960s, however, he lost touch with the gay rights movement and returned to the Midwest, where he earned a living in a variety of jobs, including laborer in oil fields and reporter for the Kansas City Star. He eventually settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he died on March 28, 1995.
Source: James Barr Papers, Coll2008-043, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California