Tuesday, May 28, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 5 : one magazine part 2

In my last post I was talking about One magazine, the first national gay magazine. One had a bold and defiant tone. It addressed politics, civil-rights, legal issues, historical and psychological issues, police harassment, employment and published short fiction. All of it's publishers had day jobs and, due to it's inability to get ads, they had to finance the magazine out of they're own pockets. They often used pseudonyms to protect they're identities and to make it appear that there were more writer's than there actually were. The magazine quickly got thousands of subscribers, most of whom received they're copies in a plain brown wrapping.
     So, of course this magazine did not have an easy ''birth'' in 1953. Remember, Homosexuality was considered to be a mental illness! The post office and the FBI had been monitoring the magazine since it's first issue but the FBI was the first to take action against it. They contacted the employers of One's writer's, so much for they're pseudonyms, and told them they were employing ''deviants,'' but, amazingly, nobody was fired from they're day jobs! The FBI dropped the issue but the post office soon picked it up. They sighted the 1873 Comstock Act which forbade sending obscene, lewd, or lascivious materials through the mail. So, One had to find legal representation. The ACLU was defending ''sodomy'' laws at the time so they wouldn't take the case, but they found a young up-start lawyer to take the case pro bono. The case dragged on for several years and One lost in two lower courts in 1956 and 57 before it finally won in the U.S. supreme court in 1958. The high court overturned the lower court rulings and said the Comstock Act did not apply to the written word. This ruling allowed LGBT people to start building the national community we know, and take for granted, today because words are a force to be reckoned with. One continued to publish during the court proceedings and did not stop until 1967 due to in-fighting.
    This is my abridged version of the story of One magazine. I have never held an actual issue in my hands but I'm certain they can be obtained. To me, this story is a perfect example of how, with struggle and a vision anything can be built over time.

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