The Reactions To Hugh Hefner’s Death Are Everything & Nothing You’d Expect

Hugh Hefner, the most iconically horny man of all time, left a considerable legacy in his 91 years on Earth.

Yes, he’s best known for elevating smut to a mass commodity, but the Playboy founder’s death has kickstarted conversations about his other contributions to popular culture.

In life and death, Hefner has been praised as one of the leading figures in America’s post-war turn away from old-school notions of morality. That didn’t extend solely to presenting nude models for the (mostly) heterosexual male gaze; Hefner saw sexual liberation as one aspect of broader cultural change.

Another vital aspect of that worldview was Hefner’s advocacy for gay rights at a time when it wasn’t exactly PC.

Hefner was also a noted supporter of civil rights. The Washington Post notes that in 1961, he bought back the rights to independently-run Playboy clubs which turned away black patrons.

In a follow-up letter, he said “we are outspoken foes of segregation [and] we are actively involved in the fight to see the end of all racial inequalities in our time.”

That kind of support has been remembered by civil rights legend Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr:

Hefner was also a staunch supporter of reproductive rights for women, and funded several court cases advocating for legal access to birth control. Not one to refrain from tooting his own horn (take that as you will), he told Esquire in 2002 that “I was a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism.”

For a while there, he also threw some parties. Some folks are are pretty cut up about it.

The rest of you? Well, you’re all cracking jokes about how thirsty the bloke was, all the time. Evidence suggests this was the case, and truth be told, he’d probably be happy you have the freedom to say what you want about him.