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Gay News

Reading All About It
Reading All About It

Two New York Gay Activists Alliance members reading the latest issue of Gay at the Rutgers University Gay Liberation Conference, April 30–May 2, 1971. Photograph by Kay Tobin Lahusen.
NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen Gay History Papers and Photographs. Copyright Kay Tobin Lahusen.
Digital ID: 1606088
A small gay political press with national reach — Mattachine Review, One, The Ladder, and Drum — had existed since the 1950s to connect communities of gays and lesbians across the country. These journals were usually monthly or quarterly, and provided channels for news and forums for political discussion. But a newly assertive gay and lesbian voice found its way into print beginning in the fall of 1969.

Jack Nichols and his lover, Lige Clarke, had been key figures in the Washington, D.C., Mattachine Society. After moving to New York, they were approached by Al Goldstein in 1968 to write a column, "The Homosexual Citizen," for Goldstein's Screw magazine. Through this new mouthpiece, Nichols and Clarke reached ten times the audience that had been reached by One, Mattachine Review, and The Ladder. After the Stonewall Riots, Goldstein backed Nichols and Clarke to create GAY, a newspaper covering politics and culture from a gay perspective. Stories ranged from a review of the off-Broadway play The Boys in the Band to coverage of Gay Activists Alliance zaps to meditations on Mick Jagger's sex appeal to manifestos on gay witchcraft. GAY also featured extensive advertising from businesses seeking gay consumers. Initially published biweekly, it quickly became the first gay weekly, and the most profitable gay newspaper in the country.

GAY had been anticipated by a few months by the appearance of Gay Power, the first gay biweekly newspaper, edited by John Heys. Gay Power covered the culture and politics of the New York gay scene through a very personal vision. Each issue featured psychedelic covers, fantastic centerfolds, regular columns by Warhol superstars, astrological advice, and firsthand accounts from the front lines of gay activism. Heys went on to become an important star on the downtown scene as a drag queen, performance artist, and visual artist.



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