Billy Glover

Review of

“Gay Press, Gay Power:
The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America”

by Tracy Baim
Prairie Avenue Productions and Windy City Media Group
468 pages, 485 illustrations
Black & White, ISBN 1480080527, $25

Reproduced here by permission of the author.



While there have been several books and efforts to discuss the publications in the glbt movement/community, finally there is one that contains the basic research so that now there is in one place the basic facts, names, and information of the magazines, newspapers, newsletters that recorded that history which they also helped make. The book covers all publications from the start in the early 1950s to 2012.   It contains new information, corrects some misinformation and gives us information on journalists who worked on the publications.

To put the history in context there is a discussion, with examples, of the horrible coverage the media gave homosexuality until about the late 1960s, when coverage exploded after Stonewall.  The publications started with the movement to gain equal/civil rights for homosexual Americans, and thus this civil rights movement is documented by the very people who were active in the effort.  A historian or researcher trying to see how coverage changed from the 1950s on could see the evidence by looking through editions of the Readers Guide to Periodicals Index.  Baim has done this for the reader.

The first publications are discussed in full in a chapter by C. Todd White.  They started during the worst of times, the McCarthy era when homosexuals and Communists were considered to be allies and were labeled dangerous to the nation's security. The first publication, ONE Magazine,  suffered from the same problems all early ones did, little income, people afraid to have their names as subscribers to a homosexual publication, businesses afraid to place ads, no authors or journalists willing to let their names appear in the publication.  And a problem few other causes had, there were homosexual people in hiding who tried to keep their sexuality from being questioned or discovered by loudly protesting the existence of a publication discussing homosexuality objectively. Many such people later were arrested for homosexual acts and still refused to support the effort to educate the public and change laws.

But ONE was successful, and was joined by the Mattachine Review and then The Ladder-aimed at women.  ONE fought a legal battle with the Post Office to protect its right to publish and mail a magazine with the homosexual viewpoint, and won only at the U. S. Supreme Court level in 1958.  These three magazines were slowly joined by others each few years and together they planted the seeds that are the major media the lgbt movement/community has today.  The early publications were supported by an organization.  Today most are independent.

The book has pictures of most of the publications covered-a great help as it shows the progression from early publications to those of today. 

As a writer says, they are time capsules of their era.  One "clue" to how things changed is the term used in the three eras-first they were called homophile publications, then homosexual, then gay and now gay and lesbian or lgbt.

There are short biographies of some lgbt journalists who helped make the publications successful.  The index shows the large number of people covered, and lists the names of hundreds of current lgbt publications.  Many people may gain a sense of  of pride knowing the history of the lgbt "media's" growth from ONE to hundreds of publications, currently giving the community the news, and views, entertainment and education, continuously revitalizing those who seek to make life better for everyone and to make this a more perfect nation, for all citizens.

No historian or journalist can write on the subject without knowing the contents of this book, because the history of publications is also the history of the movement.