Long before Life magazine called San Francisco the “gay capital of the world” in 1964, the city was a mecca for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) people. San Francisco had a well-deserved reputation as a “wide-open town” that tolerated sexual and gender nonconformity.1 In the early twentieth century, as lesbians and gay men were drawn to the city to be with others like themselves, queer gathering places began to emerge, particularly in neighborhoods frequented by tourists, such as North Beach. Demographic changes wrought by World War II expanded queer life in the city, which was home to many military bases and industries. Lesbians moved to the Bay Area to take advantage of well-paying jobs in wartime industries. Veterans - those who were discharged (both dishonorably and honorably) or who disembarked in San Francisco - stayed and made their homes in the city. Bars catering to gay and lesbian military personnel multiplied. During the McCarthy era, when police and state repression against gays and lesbians in San Francisco increased - as it did across the country - the city’s nascent GLBT communities fought back, both in the bars and through homophile organizations, such as the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). Transsexuals, who had moved to San Francisco in the 1950s to seek the services of Dr. Harry Benjamin, one of the leading medical experts on transsexuality, began to organize in the 1960s. In 1966, three years before Stonewall, transgendered residents of the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood responded to police harassment at Compton’s Cafeteria by rioting. This marked the beginnings of a militant transgender movement in San Francisco and helped generate a complex of medical, social, and psychological support services for transgendered people. Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, San Francisco was a center of countercultural activity. Inspired by the student movement, anti-war activism, the Black Freedom movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), women’s liberationists, Chicano and Asian power activists, the hippies of Haight Ashbury, and the sexual revolution, gay liberationists and gay pride activists in San Francisco flourished, and the movement for GLBT freedom matured.
“You Can Help Preserve Lesbian and Gay History!”: A Brief History of the GLBT Historical Society2
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a burgeoning interest in preserving GLBT history and culture on the part of both community historians and academics. Community-supported institutions, such as queer archives, bookstores, and presses, proliferated across the country. Given San Francisco’s reputation as the “gay capital,” and its role as a unique bastion of GLBT culture and politics, it is surprising that no public or private institution systematically documented the Bay Area’s incredibly rich queer history. A group of community historians and activist scholars responded to this lacuna by establishing the San Francisco Bay Area Gay and Lesbian Historical Society (SFBAGL) - permanent archives dedicated to preserving local queer history and making it accessible to the public. The organization, which later changed its name to the GLBT Historical Society of Northern California, was officially founded in 1985, but it had its roots in a periodicals archive that was created several years earlier. Willie Walker, an archivist who was one of the many founders of the Historical Society, also worked as a nurse on the so-called AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. Like others who witnessed the AIDS epidemic firsthand, Walker was convinced that if no one collected and preserved these records, before long, vital information about the collective past of San Francisco’s queer community - our stories - would be lost forever. In 1982, Willie Walker and Greg Pennington, another founder of the Historical Society, compiled the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Periodical Archives from a number of private collections. The publications in these archives, which also included newsletters, provided an indispensable source of documentation of GLBT history, culture, and politics. Immediately recognizing the historical importance of these documents, publishers and community members played a role in preserving GLBT history by offering complimentary subscriptions or by donating periodicals and newsletters to the archives. By 1985, the Periodical Archives had over 600 individual titles, 200 of which were published in the Bay Area. Today, the Historical Society’s collection of periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, journals, and ‘zines has grown to over 3,000 titles.
The Historical Society maintains one of the largest collections of queer historical materials in the world, and is, perhaps, the preeminent collection of GLBT materials in the United States. In addition to periodicals and newsletters, the collection houses rare books, personal papers, organizational records, oral histories, historic photographs, printed ephemera such as posters, fliers, leaflets, and matchbook covers, artifacts, original artwork, and textiles. Hundreds of researchers use the collection every year, and the Historical Society makes these materials available to the public through exhibits, public programs, and collaborations with other community institutions. The Historical Society’s mission is to increase public understanding, appreciation, and affirmation of the histories and cultures of the incredibly diverse queer communities in the Bay Area and beyond.
The microfilm edition of the Historical Society’s Periodical and Newsletter Collection replicates the spirit in which the archives were founded. From the beginning, the founders of the Historical Society made every effort to ensure that their holdings reflected the vast diversity of GLBT life. Not surprisingly, the Periodical and Newsletter Collection has exceptionally rich holdings from the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. However, the collection also boasts a large selection of important periodicals and newsletters from across the United States and around the world. The collection documents nearly sixty years of queer life in big cities and small towns across the United States, and in Canada, Europe, and Latin America. Over time, the GLBT population fragmented into separate interest groups. As organizations and institutions sprang up to represent nearly all of these groups, journals and newsletters became more specialized. The collection provides a wealth of primary source materials that document the evolution of GLBT identities, pride, and politics; the formation of GLBT communities, professional groups, and support networks; and the ways in which the GLBT community was divided by such issues as race, gender, and class. The collection, which spans from 1947 to 2004, includes rare editions of some of the earliest publications pertaining to GLBT life, as well as substantial runs of newsletters from well-known organizations and popular periodicals.
The Periodical and Newsletter Collection covers a wide variety of topics pertinent to GLBT people. Subjects represented in the collection include: the homophile movement, gay liberation, radical lesbianism, the men’s movement, economic and racial justice, civil rights legislation, civil liberties, poverty, urban life, rural life, sexism, sexual politics, electoral politics, domestic violence, interracial relationships, censorship, homophobia and hate crimes, ageism, aging, student activism and GLBT student groups, community building, GLBT identity, the politics of representation and the media’s portrayal of GLBT individuals, bisexuality, transvestism, transsexuality, transgendered lives, the medical profession, AIDS, mental health, disabilities, abortion and abortion rights, education, business, spirituality and religion, gay parenting, raising queer children, support groups, GLBT history, the Gay Games, queer film, GLBT book clubs, science fiction, music, fiction, poetry, art, and photography.
Historians, sociologists, political scientists, and urban anthropologists will make extensive use of these sources. Scholars in GLBT studies, American studies, departments of religion, cultural studies, library and information science, communication studies, journalism, ethnic studies, and women’s and gender studies will also find the collection essential to their research. Whether they are writing monographs on a specific topic or syntheses of their major field, scholars in these subject areas will be richly rewarded by the materials in the collection. Moreover, the periodicals and newsletters will provide both graduate and undergraduate students with a myriad of ideas and evidence for their dissertations, masters’ theses, or honors theses. Any scholar writing about queer life and culture in the post-war United States needs to consult this collection.
This microfilm edition comprises Series 8 and Series 9 of Primary Source Microfilm’s (an imprint of Thomson/Gale) Gay Rights Movement series. Series 8, Gay and Lesbian Politics and Social Activism: Selected Newsletters and Periodicals from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society focuses on political and social activism. Series 9, Gay and Lesbian Community, Support, and Spirit: Selected Newsletters and Periodicals from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society focuses on spirituality, community building, and support groups. However, there is some overlap between the two series; activist organizations also helped build community and offered support to GLBT people. Most of the religious and spiritual organizations and support groups represented in the collection have played activist roles, either through ministering to the GLBT community or by advocating for tolerance and equal rights. Moreover, in both series of the microfilm edition of the collection, scholars will find ample primary source materials on many separate constituencies, such as homophiles, transgendered people, senior citizens, and rural Californians.
The collection contains some of the earliest and most significant homophile publications, representing many of the movement’s most important organizations. It also includes treasures from the earliest days of queer journalism, such as eight of the nine issues of Vice Versa: America's Gayest Magazine, the first lesbian periodical in the United States. Lisa Ben (an anagram of “lesbian”), the Los Angeles secretary who created Vice Versa in 1947, chose the name “because in those days our kind of life was considered a vice.”3
San Francisco’s reputation as a gay capital often overshadows the fact that GLBT subcultures and homophile organizations existed in cities across the United States. The collection has substantial runs of newsletters, spanning the 1950s through the 1970s, from national and local chapters of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society, the nation’s first lesbian rights organization and gay rights organization, respectively. These newsletters are invaluable resources for compiling regional histories of the homophile movement in the United States and for examining gay consciousness prior to Stonewall. Local DOB chapters represented in the collection include Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. In addition, the collection has near-complete runs of two journals of lesbian feminism, poetry, literature, and politics issued by DOB: Focus, published by the Boston chapter between 1971 and 1983, and the national magazine Sisters, published in San Francisco between 1971 and 1975.
In addition to the national Mattachine Interim Newsletter, local chapters represented in the collection include Chicago, Denver, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mattachine Midwest, New York, and Washington, D.C. Series 9 includes the Homosexual Citizen, a more militant magazine founded in 1966 by Washington Mattachine Society members Frank Kameny and Jack Nichols. Only eighteen issues were produced, and the collection has the first six.
Other important regional publications include Philadelphia’s Homophile Action League Newsletter (1969-1970) and the Kansas City, Missouri magazine Phoenix: Midwest Homophile Voice (1966-1969). The collection also includes the first thirty issues of Drum, published between 1964 and 1969. Editor Clark Polak thought of Drum as a gay lifestyle magazine: “I envisioned a sort of sophisticated but down-to-earth, magazine for people who dug gay life and Drum’s view of the world.”4 Readership revealed that many people embraced Drum’s vision; circulation quickly climbed to 10,000, the highest figure of any GLBT publication at the time. Drum was published in Philadelphia by the Janus Society; the collection includes the first incarnation of the society’s newsletter (1963-1967).
The collection includes substantial runs of several newsletters from the Los Angeles-based One Institute, from 1957 to 1995. The One Institute conducted classes, sponsored lectures, operated a counseling center, participated in research projects about homosexuality, and published several influential homophile magazines, including Homophile Studies, a journal of reviews, education, philosophy, and history. The collection has a full run of the journal from 1958 to 1964, as well as scattered issues from 1966 and 1970. These publications will be invaluable for scholars interested in documenting the activities of One Institute.
Scholars looking for an international perspective on the homophile movement will find a remarkable selection of early gay publications from Britain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The collection includes Arena 3: A Special Monthly Publication for Women, a British magazine published by the lesbian organization, Minorities Research Group (1964-ca. 1972); selections from Arcadie, a literary and scientific review published by the Mouvement Homophile de France, from the 1950s through the 1980s; eight issues of Gay, a homophile magazine from Toronto (1964); Vennen (The friend), a Danish magazine (1954-1969); and ICSE Newsletter, published by the Foundation International Committee for Sexual Equality in Amsterdam (1955-1961).
Of course, San Francisco homophile organizations are also well represented in the collection and provide important resources for scholars who want to document an important time of social and political fermentation in the city. The collection includes extensive runs of the Gold Sheet and its successor, the Insider (1967-1976) - newsletters of the Society for Individual Rights (SIR), which was, at one point, the largest gay rights group in the United States. The collection contains a rare 1963 issue of the News, an incarnation of one of the first gay papers in San Francisco, and the official publication of the League for Civil Education. The League, formed in 1961 by Guy Strait, was one of the first groups to try to organize a gay voting block in San Francisco.
The primary sources available in the collection reveal that activist agendas were quite fluid in the early days of the GLBT movement. As indicated by the dates of these periodicals and newsletters, militant activism (e.g., envisioning a “gay lifestyle”) preceded the rise of gay liberation, while homophile activism was not completely eclipsed by the more radical gay liberationists. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, GLBT political, social, cultural, commercial, and religious institutions proliferated, as did the GLBT press. The Historical Society made a concerted effort to collect and preserve periodicals, newspapers, and newsletters that documented the growth of these institutions. These extraordinary holdings also detail the development of an activist, or movement, press, which advocated for gay rights, reported news of interest to the queer community, published positive representations of queer life, and provided a forum where GLBT people could exchange ideas. Scholars interested in this period will find a gold mine in the materials of the collection, which document a wide range of activity in the gay liberation movement, from fairly moderate tabloids to the more radical publications of the Gay Liberation Front.
The geographical scope of the collection’s gay liberation holdings is remarkable, encompassing California and the American Midwest, Vancouver and London, and Philadelphia and New York. Immediately after the Stonewall Riots, a number of queer activists in New York formed the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), a group that embraced revolutionary politics rather than an assimilationist approach. The organization did not last long, but from 1969 to 1971 dozens of independent chapters formed across the nation and around the world. Series 9 includes three GLF magazines - New York’s Come Out!: A Liberation Forum for the Gay Community (1969-1972); Gay Flames: A Bulletin of the Homofire Movement (1970); and London’s Come Together (1971-1972).
The Committee for Homosexual Freedom, a pre-Stonewall gay liberation group, was a vocal and militant presence in the Bay Area between 1969 and 1972. The collection’s holdings include the group’s own newsletter, as well as newsletters it issued jointly with the Berkeley Gay Liberation Front (1969-1970). The collection also includes several rare issues of the Bay Area Gay Liberation newsletter (1975 and 1978). Hollywood, California is represented by several publications; there is a near-complete run of the liberationist and socialist paper Come Out Fighting: The Newspaper of the Lavender & Red Union (1975-1977) and scattered issues of the Homosexual Information Center Newsletter (1972-1996).
Queer students played an important role in the gay liberation movement. The collection includes newsletters from some of the earliest gay student organizations. Series 8 includes several incarnations of the newsletters produced by the Gay People’s Union at Stanford (1974-1977). Series 9 includes Homosexuals Intransigent!, a publication of an early student gay rights organization at the City University of New York (1971-1972).
The collection includes most of the first forty-eight issues of the influential Detroit Gay Liberator (1970-1976). Scholars interested in studying the fractious nature of gay liberation politics will find a case study in the collection’s holdings. In October 1970, the gay liberation organization in Chicago split into two groups: Chicago Gay Liberation and Chicago Gay Alliance. The collection has five issues of the former’s newsletter (1970), and the first sixteen issues of the newsletters published by the latter (1970-1971).
Scholars interested in New York’s gay liberation press will find the collection’s holdings essential for their research. There are substantial runs of Gay Activist, the newsletter of the Gay Activists Alliance in New York (1971-1973, 1977, 1979), and three early gay newspapers: Gay (1969-1974), Gay Power (1969-1975), and Gay Scene (1970-1986). In addition to reporting news, politics, and entertainment of interest to the GLBT community, these newspapers affirmed and celebrated gay men’s sexuality by featuring beefcake and homoeroticism. Gay liberationists embraced two fundamental principles articulated by the women’s movement: “The personal is political” and “Sexual politics matter.” They viewed the validation of their sexual identity as a political act, and the fight for their sexual autonomy as a political struggle.5 Scholars exploring this topic will be particularly interested in the substantial run of newsletters from the sex-positive organization, the San Francisco Sex Information Center (1973-1996).
The growth of lesbian feminism in the 1970s also fueled a proliferation of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters. Many important lesbian feminist journals from all across the country are housed in the collection. Holdings from the 1970s through the 1990s include the aforementioned Sisters, extensive runs of The Lesbian Feminist, the newsletter of Lesbian Feminist Liberation from New York City (1976-1979), Out and About: Seattle Lesbian Feminist Newsletter (1976-1985), Los Angeles’s monthly, The Lesbian News (1976-2004), and the first eighteen issues of Rundbrief (later Spinnboden), the newsletter from the Citizens of Berlin Lesbian Archives, the largest lesbian collection in German-speaking countries (1982-1992). Part Two of the collection includes all six issues of New York’s Dyke (1975-1978) and San Francisco’s Dykespeak (1993-1995). These publications are invaluable to scholars who want to document the emergence and evolution of lesbian feminist consciousness, politics, and culture.
The collection has a number of publications from across the country that document feminism in the men’s movement. Series 8 includes Seattle’s Morning Due, a “journal of men against sexism” (1975-1977), and Berkeley’s Brother, which was both “a male liberation paper” and “a forum for men against sexism” (1971-1975). Series 9 includes Double-F: A Magazine of Effeminism, from New York (1972-1976).
The collection has a considerable number of local publications that document women’s activism and feminist community building in San Francisco and the East Bay. Although these publications are not specifically queer, they offer evidence of the ways lesbians, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual women formed alliances. They are important resources for any scholar researching the history of women or feminism in the Bay Area. Union W.A.G.E. For Equal Rights, Equal Pay, and Equal Opportunity, published by Union Women's Alliance to Gain Equality (1972-1980), deals with labor and class politics. So does the newsletter of the socialist-feminist organization, the Berkeley/Oakland Women’s Union (1974-1974), which is in Series 9. Other especially rich resources are the extensive runs of various newsletters from several local women’s community centers, the Women's Switchboard and Women's Centers (1974-1979), and its successor, the San Francisco Women's Center and Building (1981-1991). The Women’s Building, which celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2004, is a multi-cultural institution that gives girls and women the resources they need to achieve full participation in society.
The GLBT communities in San Francisco have a long history of activity in electoral politics. The potential of the queer political constituency - initially realized when Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco - can be traced back to the early 1960s and the activities of José Sarria and the League for Civil Education. In 1961, Sarria, a popular drag performer at San Francisco’s famous “bohemian” bar, the Black Cat, ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and received 5,600 votes. Scholars interested in GLBT participation in electoral politics in San Francisco will find a wealth of material from diverse political affiliations in the collection. These include extensive runs of the publications produced by the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, the first gay Democratic club in California (1972-2002), as well as newsletters from Log Cabin Republicans (1984-2002) and Libertarians for Gay and Lesbian Concerns (1983-1993).
In the 1970s and 1980s, increased political power, economic clout, and visibility led to a proliferation of activist and professional groups that advocated for GLBT rights in the Bay Area. The Historical Society’s holdings in this area are extensive. They include runs of newsletters from Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (1988-1993), Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights (1979-1998), and Communities United Against Violence (1984-1988). One remarkable collection is the near-complete run of newsletters of the American Legion, Alexander Hamilton Post #448 (1985-2003). Formed in San Francisco in 1984, Post 448’s predominantly GLBT membership of honorably discharged veterans is recognized nationally for its activism on behalf of all veterans and for its efforts to end discrimination against gays in the military. Another noteworthy holding is a substantial three-year run of the newsletter of PLAGAL, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, formerly Gays Against Abortion (1992-1995).
Local professional organizations, such as the Bay Area Network of Gay and Lesbian Educators (BANGLE), the Golden Gate Business Association, and Bay Area Career Women, offered social events for queers; addressed issues and needs specific to the GLBT community; provided mentoring, education and support services; and created networks through which queer people could advance their careers. Scholars interested in the histories of organizations catering to the GLBT community as well as queer people within certain professions will find extraordinary documentation in Series 9 of the collection’s newsletters.
The collection also affords scholars an opportunity to examine primary source materials that document the history of the numerous national and local GLBT cultural institutions that sprung up in the 1970s and 1980s. Series 9 includes all nine issues of Gay Olympics, the newsletter documenting the first-ever Gay Games, which took place in San Francisco in 1982 (November 1981-August 1982). It also features a variety of newsletters and primary source documents pertaining to San Francisco’s Frameline, the producers of the oldest and largest LGBT film festival in the world. In addition to its own newsletters, Our Stories, the Historical Society has collected the publications of other community-based institutions that preserve GLBT history. A number are included in the collection, such as the Gerber-Hart Library in Chicago, the Midwest's foremost GLBT archive (1990-2002).
While the geographical breadth of the collection is remarkable, the Historical Society’s commitment to preserving local queer history makes it the preeminent repository of GLBT history in Northern California and, consequently, indispensable to scholars doing research on this region. The collection includes numerous locally produced periodicals and newsletters that are dedicated to serving particular geographical communities. There are substantial runs of local publications from San Francisco, the East Bay, the Silicon Valley, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Marin County, and Sonoma County. These include early treasures, like San Francisco’s Rip Off Rag (1976-1979) and the Marin Women’s Newsletter/Journal (1973-1975), as well as more contemporary publications, like a near-complete run of newsletters from the Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center in San Jose (1983-2002) and San Francisco’s Spectrum (1998-2003). Queer publications like these were particularly important before the advent of the Internet, especially for GLBT people who lived outside major metropolitan areas. They afforded queer people a sense of local community while keeping them connected to the larger GLBT world. Many of the collection’s holdings are publications that enabled queers who lived in more rural areas of Northern California to connect with one another. These include Novato’s Wishing Well (1978-1986) and the newsletter of the Lesbian and Gay Resource Network of Sonoma County (1982-1984). These primary sources will provide a wealth of materials for scholars interested in studying how GLBT communities developed outside of urban centers.
The GLBT Historical Society’s collection of periodicals and newsletters related to transvestism, transsexuality, and transgender issues is one of the best in the western United States. These publications, which span the 1950s through the 1990s, are essential for any scholar who wants to document the emergence and evolution of trans-identities, trans-services, and trans-communities. Series 8 includes substantial runs of early publications, such as Transvestia: Journal of the American Society for Equality in Dress, and TV Clipsheet, which was a compilation of news clippings from the 1960s about cross-dressers and transsexuals. Transvestia was created by Virginia Charles Prince, founder of one of the first peer support and advocacy groups for male-to-female transsexuals in the United States. Issues in the collection date from 1952, and from 1960 to 1969; some consider the early issues to be markers of the beginning of the transgender rights movement in the United States. Both these magazines were produced in Los Angeles, but the collection also includes publications from New York; New England; Toronto; Baton Rouge; Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia; and the Bay Area. There are several journals for female-to-male transsexuals, such as Toronto’s Metamorphosis (1982-1988) and, in Series 9, all fifty-three issues of FTM Newsletter (1987-2003).
Scholars interested in bisexuality will find national publications, as well as newsletters from bisexual support groups in San Francisco and Boston in the collection. Series 8 includes the first twenty-two issues of the Bay Area’s Anything that Moves, a magazine whose mission was to provide as diverse a view as possible of bisexual, transgendered, and “gender fluid” communities (1991-2001). Series 9 includes BiNet News, the newsletter of Bisexual Network USA (1996-2000).
Though people of color are represented in other materials throughout the collection, the archives include a strong selection of periodicals and newsletters produced specifically by and for people of color. These publications were dedicated to building community, combating racism and homophobia, sharing literary work, and instilling pride in their readers by presenting positive representations of GLBT people of color. One example of a publication that promoted coalition building is Morena: Women of Color Press Empowering Our Communities, a newspaper from Berkeley for African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American women (1988-1991). African Americans are represented in the collection by sizeable runs of the local publications: Aché, a journal for lesbians of African descent produced in Albany, California (1989-1993); and Whazzup! Magazine, a free monthly newspaper produced in Oakland for GLBT African Americans (1996-1998). The collection includes newsletters from Asian/Pacific Islander groups from the Bay Area, Massachusetts, New York, and Toronto. Highlights include substantial runs of Lavender Godzilla, the newsletter of the Bay Area’s Gay Asian Pacific Alliance for Gay and Bisexual Asian/Pacific Islander Men (1988-2004), Celebrasian, Toronto’s newsletter for Gay Asians (1983-1995), and San Francisco’s Phoenix Rising: The Asian Pacifica Sisters Newsletter (1986-1994). Many of the publications produced by the Latino community are bilingual, or in Spanish or Portuguese. The collection includes various newsletters from the Washington, D.C.-based National Latino/a Lesbian and Gay Organization (1994-1997), and the San Francisco-based Associación Gay Unida Impactando Latinos A Superase in San Francisco (2000-2003). It also includes substantial runs of the Brazilian magazine Nos Por Exemplos (1992-1995), the Mexican lesbian magazine, Amantes de la Luna (1994), and Chicago’s En La Vida: voces de lesbians, gays, bisexuales y transgéneros latinos (1997-1998).
The Historical Society has an outstanding collection of newsletters from two multiracial, multicultural groups devoted to promoting interracial cooperation, friendship, and understanding. Black and White Men Together (later Men of All Colors Together) was founded in San Francisco in 1981 by Michael Smith. While it is a social group, it is also dedicated to fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. The collection’s holdings are substantial. In addition to newsletters from the national organization, there are newsletters from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s from almost all the local chapters, including the San Francisco Bay Area; Atlanta; Baltimore; Cleveland; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Memphis; Tallahassee and Big Bend, Florida; San Diego; Philadelphia; Austin; Chicago; Dallas; New York; Kansas City; Boston; Connecticut; Indianapolis; Louisville; Milwaukee; Los Angeles; Youngstown; Oakland; and the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Series 9 includes significant newsletter collections from the local Bay Area organizations Pacific Friends San Francisco and Pacific Friends, South Bay (1986-1996). Founded in 1984, these organizations promote community service and camaraderie among gay Asians/Pacific Islanders, their partners, and their friends.
The collection features a number of publications devoted to more mature members of the queer community. Series 8 contains newsletters from organizations serving seniors, like San Francisco’s New Leaf Services (1984-2003). Series 9 has substantial runs of newsletters from Lavender Seniors of the East Bay (1995-2003) and SAGE - Seniors Active in a Gay Environment (1982-2002). In addition, Series 9 includes an extensive compilation of newsletters from the Prime Timers, an international organization for gay men over forty. Retired professor Woody Baldwin founded the Prime Timers in 1987 in Boston as a social and cultural organization dedicated to assisting and supporting aging gay and bisexual men. There are over fifty chapters across the world. In addition to Prime Timers Worldwide (based in Manchacha, Texas), the collection includes substantial runs of newsletters from all over the United States and Canada, from the 1980s through today, including chapters in Atlanta; Baltimore/Washington, D.C.; Boston; central Florida; central Oklahoma; Chicago; Colorado; Edmonton; the Gulf Coast; Houston; Las Vegas; New Orleans; New York; Palm Springs; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; Shreveport; Tampa Bay; Toronto; the Tri-State Area; Tulsa; Vancouver; Victoria; and Winnipeg. These materials are a potential gold mine for scholars researching the effect of demographic shifts and the aging of the baby boom generation on the GLBT community in North America.
The breadth and depth of materials pertaining to organized religion in the collection is remarkable - and invaluable to researchers studying religious and spiritual practices in the GLBT community. Almost every major religion is represented - Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism - as are most denominations of Christianity, including Catholicism, Lutheranism, Mormonism, the United Methodist Church, evangelical Christianity, Presbyterianism, and the Episcopalian Church. The collection includes substantial runs of various newsletters from the first church with a primary, positive ministry to the GLBT community - Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) San Francisco (1970-1996). Today, MCC has over 43,000 members worldwide. There is a near-complete run of the Jewish Gaily Forward, the news magazine from San Francisco’s Reform congregation, Sha'ar Zahav. There are also newsletters from the San Francisco chapters of the Gay Buddhist Fellowship/Fraternity (1992-1999), and Sadhana Brothers, a San Francisco group for gay men pursuing a Hindu/yoga/mystical path (1994-1997).
Most of the religious organizations represented in the collection recognize and affirm their congregants’ sexual orientation. Remarkably, however, the collection also includes the newsletters Regeneration News (1996-2004) and Wellspring (1998-2004), from several ministries that believe that GLBT people can become heterosexual through faith in Jesus Christ.
Also noteworthy is the collection’s selection of publications by gay and lesbian atheists. These include fairly complete runs of newsletters from the national and San Francisco chapters of the American Gay & Lesbian Atheists (1989-1995 and 1982-1987, respectively), and the journal GALA Review, which was published in conjunction with the Gay Atheist League of America (1978-1985 and 1985-1989).
Researchers interested in alternative religions and spirituality will find plenty of sources in the collection. Highlights include Faerie Dish Rag, a magazine from the Radical Faeries (1991-1997), and Cerunnos News: Wiccan Newsletter for the Bay Area (1982-1986).
These days, there is nothing extraordinary about the idea of queer people raising children. In fact, there is a veritable baby boom in the GLBT community and a proliferation of resources for GLBT parents. Not so long ago, however, this was not the case. The collection contains newsletters from some of the earliest groups that offered support to, and fought for, the well-being and rights of GLBT parents, prospective parents, and families. There are substantial runs of newsletters from several groups, including two local organizations, San Francisco Bay Area Gay Fathers (formerly Gay Fathers San Francisco Bay Area, 1982-1989) and Berkeley’s Lesbian/Gay Parenting Group (1987-1992), the precursor to the San Francisco-based support and civil rights group, Our Family Coalition.
One of the most remarkable holdings in the collection is the extensive selection of national and local newsletters, from the 1980s through the present, of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG), an advocacy, education, and support organization for GLBT people, their families, friends, and allies. Approximately twenty people attended the first formal meeting of PFLAG in New York in 1973. Today, PFLAG is the largest grass roots family organization of its kind, with over 200,000 members, and chapters in nearly 500 communities across the United States and throughout the world. The depth and breadth of the holdings are impressive. In addition to the national newspaper, there are newsletters from local chapters throughout California - Chico, Los Angeles, Marin County, the mid-Peninsula, Mill Valley, Orange County, and San Francisco - and across the United States: Akron; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Houston; New York City; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Rochester, New York; and Washington, D.C.
GLBT people have been ignored, marginalized, and deliberately erased from history by mainstream society. In the words of the founders of the Historical Society, “For generations our letters have been burned, our names blotted out, our books censored, our love declared unspeakable, our very existence denied.”6 GLBT people recognize that denying and distorting their history facilitates their oppression. Consequently, the founders of the Historical Society have spent the last generation accumulating periodicals and newsletters that document the history and culture of nearly sixty years of queer life in and beyond the Bay Area. They know that history is instrumental in creating a positive sense of queer identity and pride, and in building political movements that can fight for the equal rights they have long been denied because of their sexual orientation. The microfilm edition of the Historical Society’s Periodical and Newsletter Collection will make these primary source materials accessible and will help preserve this history and our stories for countless future generations.
Marjorie Bryer, Ph.D.
Many thanks to Terence Kissack and Ramón Silvestre for their feedback and guidance on this essay.
1 The term “wide-open town” comes from Nan Alamilla Boyd’s excellent monograph, Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). I also drew on Susan Stryker and Jim Van Buskirk’s Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1996).
2 San Francisco Bay Area Gay and Lesbian Historical Society Newsletter, 1:3 (March 1986), 5.
3 Lisa Ben, quoted in “In Our Own Voices: The Lesbian and Gay Press,” in Larry Gross and James D. Woods, eds., The Columbia Reader on Lesbian and Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 437.
4 Clark Polak, quoted in “In Our Own Voices,” 439. Kameny and Polak are considered part of the “movement press,” and viewed as “missing links” between homophiles and gay liberationists. See “In Our Own Voices,” 439.
5 Ed Jackson, “Flaunting it! A decade of gay journalism from The Body Politic,” The Columbia Reader, 463.
6 San Francisco Bay Area Gay and Lesbian Historical Society Newsletter, 1:3 (March 1986), 5.
Materials are arranged in the reels in alphabetical order by publication title. For each publication title, issues appear chronologically, from earliest available issue to the most recent. This guide lists materials in the order in which they appear on the reels. At the beginning of the issue listings for each title, the title (and organization if there is one) appears in boldface italic. For titles whose runs continue onto the next reel, please see the Reel Index, which indicates the range of issue dates of that title on the reel. Periodicals whose titles changed over time appear in their proper place alphabetically on the reels and in the guide, with a few exceptions where the archive bundled them together.
The selection of materials for the microform edition of Gay and Lesbian Community, Support, and Spirit: Selected Newsletters and Periodicals was based on several criteria:
Relevancy: This microfilm collection comprises selected periodicals and newsletters from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society archive. Selections emphasize the relevance of the material to the history of gay and lesbian political and social activism in America, particularly the pursuit of equal rights.
Rarity: Some periodicals and newsletters were excluded because they can be found in many libraries or have appeared in other Primary Source Microfilm publications of gay and lesbian publications. Materials available without charge to the public on an organization’s website were also excluded.
Research Need: Certain materials were not microfilmed largely because of their relatively low priority with respect to research needs. Examples of such materials include newsletters devoted primarily to commercial advertisements.
Privacy: Some materials could not be microfilmed for reasons of confidentiality. In the interest of protecting the privacy of individuals, a concerted effort was made to exclude newsletters that contained people’s home addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, or personal financial information. Examples of such materials include newsletters devoted primarily to contact club information.
Materials excluded from the microfilm edition are noted in the entry for the file in which they are housed. These materials are available to researchers who use the collection on site at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. Periodicals and newsletters excluded in their entirety are not listed in this collection guide. These materials are also available to researchers who use the collection on site at the GLBT Historical Society.
Newsletter formerly entitled Adventus. The name was changed sometime between 1985 and 1987. Lutherans Concerned San Francisco became Lutherans Concerned San Francisco Bay Area in Fall 2000.
Newsletter name changed to Advent sometimes between 1985 and 1987.
Other early issues were first called Transgender Treatment Bulletin.
Followed by The Affirmation Gayzette in the 1990s.
Previously Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.
Amantes de la Luna
First issue published ca. 1994.
Preceded by AGUILAS Newsletter, Aquilas Monthly Bulletin, and BOLetin. Followed by El amanaque.
Gay and Lesbian Atheist
Preceded by American Gay Atheist.
Succeeded by the American Gay and Lesbian Atheist.
First published in 1972. Preceded by The Scarab and succeeded by The Beacon.
Good as it Gets
The name of the community center changed from “Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center” to “Santa Cruz Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community Center” and then to “Santa Cruz Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Community Center”. The name “The Diversity Center” was adopted in 1999. The name of the publication changed from As Good as it Gets (1990-1992) to Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community News for Santa Cruz (1993) to Community News and Views for the Central Coast (1993-1995), then News and Views of Santa Cruz (1995), and News and Views for Santa Cruz (1995).
Publication is also entitled The BANGLE Angle.
Area Career Women
First published ca. 1981. Subsequently titled Uncommon Voices: BACW Newsletter.
Publication was preceded by The Scarab and The Apostle.
First issue published ca. 1973. The title Bridges is adopted ca. 1976. Dignity/Bay Area becomes Dignity/San Francisco in early 1983.
First issue published ca. 1982.
Oklahoma Prime Timers
Preceded by COPT Gazette.
The Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco newsletter went through a number of phases. From 1970 to 1972, it was called MCC Speaking Up. Between 1972 and 1975 it was called Cross Currents. Beginning in the Fall of 1975 until at least 1977, it was called Christian Circle. Between 1980 and 1982 it was called Community News. From 1988 to 1990 the name was MCC Newsletter, and from July 1990 until at least December 1995, it was called Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco Newsletter.
First issue published Fall 1980.
Prime Timers Newsletter
Newsletter becomes Colorado Prime Times in January 1999.
First issue published November 14, 1969.
Together (London, England)
First issue published ca. 1970.
See history notes for Christian Circle.
News and Views for the Central Coast
See history notes for As Good As It Gets.
First published in July 1966.
Currents (San Francisco, California)
First issue published Fall 1972. See history notes for Christian Circle.
First issue published June 3, 1976.
First issue published ca. 1982. Publication also titled East Bay Dignity Newsletter.
First issue published ca. 1991.
First issue published ca. 1969. Titled Dignity, a monthly newsletter from ca. 1969 to ca. 1986. Titled Dignity/USA Newsletter from ca. 1987 through Fall 1991. The title was changed to Dignity/USA Journal in Spring 1992.
First issue published in the first quarter of 1960. The final issue was the January/February/March 1964 issue.
First issue published was the Summer 1972 issue.
First issue published was the Winter 1975/1976 issue.
First issue published was the June 1991 issue.
Disability and Stuff
First issue published Summer 1988.
First issue published July 1987.
In May 1956, the New York Chapter of the Mattachine Society began publishing New York Mattachine Newsletter. In February or March 1961, the National Mattachine Society ceased to exist, and the New York Chapter became the Mattachine Society Inc. of New York. They continued to publish the newsletter with the same name and numbering. From February to September 1962 the name of the newsletter changed to Newsletter of the Mattachine Society, Inc. of New York. From November 1962 to January 1964, the name was The Mattachine Newsletter. From February 1964 to February 1965, it was again called The New York Mattachine Newsletter. In 1965 they began publishing the Eastern Mattachine Magazine jointly with the Mattachine Society of Washington. The volume and number continued from the newsletter, but the publication was a magazine. By the Spring of 1966 they were again publishing a newsletter called New York Mattachine Newsletter, and, again, the volume and number continued. Between July and August 1970, the name of the newsletter changed to New York Mattachine Times. This title lasted at least through the January/February issue of 1973. The Mattachine New Times was a newspaper put out by the organization beginning in 1975.
First issue published December 1980.
First issue published ca. 1990.
of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc. Newsletter
First published December 1981. In July/August 1981, a federation of parents’ groups was formed called “Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” (Parents FLAG). The office of this federation was shared by the Los Angeles PFG group.
First published in December 1984. The national federation later published a newspaper called PFLAGpole.
Publication also titled Frameline Newsletter.
Publication also titled Lobbyist’s Newsletter.
First issue published September 1987.
Plus Club Newsletter
This organization was founded in 1973. In 1999, the name of the newsletter changed from G40 Plus Club Newsletter to The Mentor. In 2002, the name of the organization officially changed from G40 Plus Club to Prime Timers San Francisco.
du Quebec Bulletin
First issue published July 1977.
See history notes for GALA Review.
First issue published in 1978. It was published by the Gay Atheists League of America from 1978 until April 1985 and by Gay and Lesbian Atheists from June 1985 until 1989.
(Golden Gate Business Association)
The name of the newsletter changed from GGBA Newsletter to The Gateway in April 1995. From February through September 1999, the name changed briefly to The Gateway Extra.
First issue published March 30, 1964. Continued by Gay International starting with v.1 no.12 in January 1965.
Gay Bookworm was first published ca. 1986. In 1991 it was replaced by Quatrefolio.
Gay Buddhist Fellowship Newsletter
Previously called The Gay Buddhist Fraternity Newsletter.
Fathers San Francisco Bay Area Newsletter
Preceded by The San Francisco Bay Area Gay Fathers Newsletter.
First issue published in 1970.
(Also called The Detroit Liberator and The Detroit Gay Liberator). First issue published ca. 1970.
Gay Lutheran (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
First published ca. 1974. Until January 1975, the newsletter was published in Minneapolis. In 1976 the organization moved from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.
First issue published in November 1981. The last issue was published in August 1982.
People and Mental Health
First issue published in October 1972.
Times (San Francisco, California: 1971-1972)
First issue published in 1971.
Times (San Francisco, California: 1986-1987)
First issue published July 1986.
Youth Community News
First issue published August 1979.
First issue published January 1987.
Subsequently called The Media Reporter.
First issue published January 1966.
First issue published January 1971. Publication also previously titled Homosexual Renaissance.
Ain’t Me Babe
First issue published January 15, 1970.
First published in September 1977.
First issue published March 1995.
First issue published in the Fall of 1986.
Lavender Salon Reader
First issue published in May 1993.
and Gay Historical Society of San Diego Newsletter
First issue published in Winter 1993. The name of the publication changed from Archives Newsletter to Lesbian and Gay Archives of San Diego Newsletter in 1991. The name of the organization changed in 1993 from Lesbian and Gay Archives of San Diego to Lesbian and Gay Historical Society of San Diego, and the name of the newsletter changed accordingly.
Lesbian and Gay Parenting Group Newsletter
In 1996, the Gay and Lesbian Parenting Group also published the Keep On Toddlin’ newsletter. Later it became Our Family, and in 2001 merged with All Our Families Coalition to become Our Family Coalition.
Gay and Bisexual Community News for Santa Cruz
See history notes for As Good As It Gets.
First published November 1996. First issue is also the last issue of The Santa Cruz County In-Queery (vol. 9 #10).
Preceded by The GLPA Newsletter.
Newsletter and MCC Speaking Up
See history note for Christian Circle.
The Mentor (San Francisco, California)
See history note for G-40 Plus Club Newsletter.
Mid-Peninsula Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,
First published November 1985.
More Light Update
The name More Light Prayer Book is occasionally used in place of More Light Update.
The Network News (San Francisco, California)
First published in October 1986. In 1995 the various BANGLE chapters united and began jointly putting out the Star BANGLE Spanner. In 1997 BANGLE became part of GLSTN, a national organization, which then changed its name to GLSEN. In 2001 the San Francisco/East Bay chapter of GLSEN began to publish a new newsletter called GSLEN San Francisco/East Bay.
New York City Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,
First published ca. 1977. The names of the organization and the newsletter varied. Publication also titled Parents FLAG New York City Newsletter and NYC Parents of Lesbians and Gay Men Newsletter.
News and Views of Santa Cruz
See history note for As Good As It Gets.
NOGLS Newsline was first published in August 1983 by the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists. The name of the organization changed in March 1984 to National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, and the name of the newsletter changed to NOGLSTP Newsletter. In 1986, the city of the newsletter changed from Chicago to Los Angeles. By 1989, the name of the newsletter was NOGLSTP Bulletin.
Formerly The Pacific Center for Human Growth Newsletter.
First published ca. 1984.
Pacific Friends South Bay
First issue published February 1986. In August 1988 the name of the publication changed from Pacific Friends South Bay to Pacific Horizons.
See history note for Pacific Friends South Bay.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gay Newsletter
First published ca. 1980.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter
First issue published November 1982. In 1983, the local groups were asked to all start using the name Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Parents Flag), and at this time the name of the Houston organization changed from Family and Friends of Gays.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter (Los
The Los Angeles Chapter was called Parents and Friends of Gays (PFG) from 1978 (or before) until November 1981, when it became Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLG). In July/August 1981, a federation of parents’ groups called Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Parents FLAG) was formed. The office of this federation was shared by the Los Angeles PFG group. In December 1982, the name of the newsletter changed to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc. and the Parents Flag logo appeared.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter (Mill
Organization started ca. April 1985. First published in April 1985.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter
The organization was called Parents of Gays (POG) and the newsletter was titled Parents’ Newsletter. In June 1985, the name of the organization changed to Philadelphia Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Parents FLAG) and the title of the newsletter changed to Parents FLAG Philadelphia Newsletter.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter
The organization was called United Parents and Friends Support Group until the Fall of 1983. The name seems to have varied between this and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays until 1986, when it became the latter.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter
(Rochester, New York)
On May 1, 1984, the organization changed its name from Family and Friends of Gays (F.F.G.) to Parents FLAG Rochester.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter (San
In 1987, the name of both the organization and the newsletter was Parents of Gay People of the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning in December 1980, the names changed to Parents of Gay People of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. In September 1981 the names changed to Parents and Friends of Gays (PFG) of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. In April 1984 the name of the organization changed to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Parents FLAG San Francisco) and so did the name of the newsletter. During the second half of 1988 and the first half of 1989, the name of the newsletter varied between PFLAG, and Newsletter. By November 1989 the name of the newsletter was San Francisco Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. In October 1993 the name of the newsletter changed to Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Newsletter
(Santa Ana, California)
First published November 1983.
First published ca. 1982.
The organization started ca. 1990 as Gays Against Abortion (GAA) and the newsletter had the same name. By February 1992, the name of the organization had changed to Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) and the name of the newsletter to PLAGAL Memorandum.
Prime Timers of the Desert Monthly Camelgram
In October 1996, a splinter group of Prime Timers of the Desert asserted itself as the Prime Timers of Coachella County. In Fall 1996, Prime Timers of the Desert dropped its affiliation with Prime Timers International.
Prime Times (Las Vegas, Nevada)
By June 2000, the newsletter name had changed to Prime Time News.
Primer (Seattle, Washington)
Publication also titled Prime Timers Briefs and Seattle Prime Timers Newsletter.
Local Boston chapter of Prime Timers was founded in 1987.
Publishing Triangle News
First published September 1989.
Q Spirit Matters
First published ca. 1996. In May 1998, the name of the newsletter changed from Q Spirit Newsletter to Q Spirit Matters.
See history note for Gay Bookworm.
Rip Off Rag
First issue published June 1976.
This newsletter became Prime Link between July and October 1997. The newsletter then became Edmonton Prime Link in May 2000.
First published May 1989.
The name of the newsletter changed between 1985 and 1986 from SAGE Voices to SAGE News. Sometime before or during 2001, it changed again to SAGE News and Events. Between 1988 and 1995, the name of the organization changed from Senior Action in a Gay Environment to Seniors Active in a Gay Environment.
See history note for SAGE News.
San Francisco Bay Area Gay Fathers Newsletter
Formerly titled Gay Fathers San Francisco Bay Area.
San Francisco Gazette
First edition published April 24, 1978.
The Santa Cruz County In-Queery
First issue published ca. 1987. Last issue, vol. 9 #10 (November 1996), is also the first issue, vol. 1 #1 (November 1996), of Manifesto.
First issue published in 1991.
First published September 1971. Succeeded by The Apostle and The Beacon.
Slant (Corte Madera, California)
First issue published February 1990.
Spectrum (San Francisco, California)
First issue published June 25, 1998.
Star BANGLE Spanner
First issue published March/April 1992. In 1995 the various BANGLE chapters united and began jointly putting out the Star BANGLE Spanner. In 1997 BANGLE became part of GLSTN, a national organization, which then changed its name to GLSEN. In 2001 the San Francisco/East Bay chapter of GLSEN began to publish a new newsletter called GSLEN San Francisco/East Bay.
Touching Body and Spirit
First issue published in the winter of 1989/1990.
First issue published October 1981.
UC GALA Newsletter
First published April 1988.
First published ca. 1981. Formerly titled Bay Area Career Women.
Vanguard (Los Angeles, California)
First published ca. l997. In January 2000, the organization began publishing a magazine called At the Village about events and classes at The Village at Gould Plaza. In February 2003, At the Village became a pullout section of Vanguard.
Voices and Vision
Titled simply The Newsletter until a name was chosen.
The Way Fourth
The organization was early called Tayu Order and Tayu Fellowship. The newsletter was earlier called Tayu Order and Ganymede.
First issue published ca. 1977.
This newsletter was also known as Prime Timers.
World Congress Digest
First published ca. 1982. The organization moved from Evanston, IL, to Washington, DC, and later to New York City.
Zuni Mountain News
First published Fall/Winter 1996-1997. The title of the publication varied between Zuni Mountain News and Gnomad.