COCOA BEACH, Fla. -- Jack Nichols, a writer and editor who was a pioneering member of the gay rights movement in the United States, died yesterday at Cape Canaveral Hospital of complications from cancer. He was 67.
''Jack was among the gay pioneers who stepped out of a debilitating closet and helped crack the cocoon of invisibility," said Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum, a Philadelphia-based gay rights group.
Mr. Nichols helped found chapters of the Mattachine Society, an early support group for gays, in Florida and Washington, D.C., in the early and mid-1960s.
He also helped plan some of the nation's first gay and lesbian civil rights demonstrations, including a protest outside Philadelphia's Independence Hall on July 4, 1965.
In addition, Mr. Nichols was among the first gay activists to challenge the American Psychiatric Association's position that homosexuality was a mental illness.
From 1969 to 1973, Mr. Nichols and his partner, the late Lige Clark, were editors of GAY, America's first gay weekly newspaper. The two also wrote a nonfiction memoir called ''I Have More Fun with You than Anybody."
Mr. Nichols wrote other books, including ''Men's Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity" and ''The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists."
His most recent book, published last year, was ''The Tomcat Chronicles: Erotic Adventures of a Gay Liberation Pioneer."
From 1997 to 2004, he edited the Internet news magazine GayToday.com.
''Everyone who met him felt like he was there for just them," said Steve Yates, a longtime friend. ''Beyond gay rights, he was a human rights advocate. That was his true goal."