Chuck Arnett [Edit]

Chuck Arnett (1928-1988) was an American leatherman and artist.

Involvement in Leather

In 1962 Arnett painted a mural of life-size leathermen for the San Francisco gay male leather bar called the Tool Box.

The June 1964 Paul Welch Life magazine article “Homosexuality In America” was the first time a national American publication reported on gay issues; Lifes photographer was referred to the Tool Box for the article by gay activist Hal Call, who had long worked to dispel the myth that all gay men were effeminate. The article opened with a two-page spread of the mural in the Tool Box which had been painted by Arnett in 1962, and described San Francisco as “The Gay Capital of America”. The article inspired many gay leathermen to move there.

Arnett also created a psychedelic black light mural for the Stud, which had been cofounded as a gay male leather bar by Alexis Muir and George Mason in 1966.


Arnett died of AIDS in 1988 and is among those commemorated in the AIDS Quilt.


In 2017, the art installation known as the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley was installed; it consists of four works of art honoring leather culture, and one of them is a black granite stone featuring (among other things) a reproduction of Arnett’s mural that was in the Tool Box. As well, Arnett (among others) is honored in the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley with a bronze bootprint displaying his name and a short statement about him.

Further Reading

Jack Fritscher contributed an article on Arnett (“Artist Chuck Arnett: His Life/Our Times”) to editor Mark Thompson’s book Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People, Politics, and Practice (1991).