In 2000 I was in contact with the gay-libn group part of the USC, and a request came up about ‘what was the first gay magazine or gay magazines’? Obviously, the US had the first [?] and it was called ‘One’ published in 1952. This was not an auspicious time for a gay magazine anywhere, but in the USA Dwight Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10450, and it said:
…gays and lesbians were perverts, criminals, mentally ill, and must be blocked from any kind of federal employment…JSTOR Daily
This soon led to the FBI monitoring all the magazines posted through the USA postal system, and for employers being ‘advised’ to no longer employ these deviants.
But, in 1954 a new magazine hit the UK newsstands, Film & Filming magazine! Not an inspiring title or magazine at first glance, but as Dr Bengry, senior lecturer in queer history at Goldsmiths University of London, said:
…If you go through it, for many of us, it will tweak our gaydar looking at those 1950s issues – because there seems to be more bare-chested men than you’d expect…and also the personal ads of young bachelors looking to meet other young bachelors…
It was in 1885, that “gross indecency” between two men was made illegal, and believe it or not, in 1921 a similar law was discussed for women as well.
Last week we saw the demise of Gay Times as a print magazine, it is still available on the internet, but like its predecessors Gay News (which ran from 1962 to 1970, and Capital Gay which ran from Jun 1981 to June 1995, it is no longer something tangible you can get hold off from the newsstand, supermarket or other outlets. This is a large blow, because we fought to have gay magazines removed from the top shelf and available for everyone to get hold of, and it was no small fight. By moving the magazine from the top shelf (and even in some cases out of the plastic bag) we provided visibility to all of the reading population, and also enabled those who were in the closet or to frighten or to stretch for it, to be able to get a copy and purchase it along with their ordinary magazines and newspapers.
When you look back at these old newspapers and magazines you realise that the standard of news capture was of extremely high quality, and these outlets covered the news across all of the UK, and even indeed other parts of the globe.
The question is how in today’s world of almost instantaneous news through ‘social media’ and supposed 24-hour news coverage can we be sure that the news we are getting is accurate and relevant to the area we live in. It is up to all of us to report the news to a responsible outlet or journalist – remember that the print newspaper and magazines will want to sell papers and magazines – so what is news to you may not be news to the, or indeed they may even flip the story and give it a totally different slant.
There are gay journalists, I am one and I operate through my blog ‘ACOMSDave’, I write reviews of books and movies, and also articles relevant to us in Northern Ireland – so write and let me have your stories.
- Wikipedia – Gay News
- Wikipedia – Capital Gay
- BBC News – Pride Month: The LGBT history you probably didn’t learn in school
- Happy 250th Gay Times!
- Linenhall Library – the Linenhall Library holds a set of the Gay News for research