David Carter attended college at Emory University, where he majored in religion while also taking many French courses. He received his MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin. Soon after moving to Wisconsin, he became a gay activist. Carter is the founder of the Madison Committee for Gay Rights and cofounded The United and served as one of their spokespersons. He and two friends started what was apparently the nation’s second gay television series, Glad To Be Gay, and, for a spin-off of that program, Nothing To Hide, he interviewed one of his favorite writers, Allen Ginsberg. Through the activism of this period, a grass roots movement was created that resulted in Wisconsin passing the first statewide gay rights law.
Carter moved to New York in 1985 where he began working for Chelsea House Publishers, then the nation’s premier publisher of young adult multicultural books. While there he proposed the creation of two new series, a lesbian and gay biography series and a lesbian and gay studies series, both of which he helped Chelsea House launch before leaving the company.
Hired by Allen Ginsberg to edit his interviews, Carter published the compilation of those interviews as Spontaneous Mind (2001) after Ginsberg’s death. Carter is also the author of Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution (2004). In 1998, Carter received a grant from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation to research a nomination to put the site of the Stonewall Riots on the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination, written by Carter and three preservationists resulted in the Stonewall site getting on the National Register in 1999, the first time that a site was listed because of its role in LGBT history. The following year the site was declared a National Historic Landmark, the highest recognition given by the United States government.
David Carter is researching his next book, a biography of the pioneering gay activist Dr. Frank Kameny, who was responsible for getting the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness and who coined the phrase “Gay Is Good” before the Stonewall Riots.