Thursday, January 31, 2008

Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

I recently started volunteering at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and I LOVE it. I can't wait for Wednesdays, it gives me a huge sense of purpose and when I'm there I don't leave until they lock the door. I love it, I'd love to spend weeks in there pouring over the material. There's such a sense of brotherhood, I have the feeling when I go like I had when I first went to the gay village, a sense of connection, of belonging, I love pouring over the stories of the people who went before. I want to buy them supplies and volunteer for everything.

I'm currently working on the book collection with Cliff. This is him here, hard at work. I label the donations and put stickers on the books and stuff, which is great as I get to see all the books, and Cliff lists them all in the computer by subject and category and author and year and condition.... yikes, I'm glad I don't have that job.

This is part of the book collection. There are far more books than storage space right now so it's a bit tight.

More books and a research table. It was interesting, one of the aspects of the archives is public service, where you help members of the public who come in. Tony who I volunteer with was surprised when I said I didn't want to do that, I guess, especially in a library setting, I'm one of the more outgoing people. But there's a reason I've been in admin for 12 years, I work best by myself with a ton of different stuff to do and this job gives me that.

Some of the video collection.

This is the rare (read expensive) stuff. I find it hard not to go through this, write down everything and go home and order one for myself. I friend of mine wisely said "There already is an archives, you don't have to start another one".

Some of the books. They have some marvelous works here. None in this picture unfortunately but I find it's difficult sometimes to get gay books, like you go to a yard sale and you know they won't have anything for you, and here they have TONS. I should do another blog post later on some cool finds at the archives. X-tra seems to be running a weekly feature lately along the same lines, highlighting one thing from this collection.

Lots of magazines and archival records, like all the records from the Body Politic, Canada's first gay newspaper, and Svend Robinson's parliamentary papers.

LOTS of magazines.

Part of the poster collection and a sign we're getting to the good stuff. It's so cool to be in a gay library with a picture of a penis hanging on the wall.

Last, but not least, the porn. A lot of people snicker at this collection, even volunteers at the Archives themselves, but I love going through this. Half to three quarters of this collection was published before 1985 when there were no "gay" magazines, there was still pornography. Many of these magazines were it for gay culture, containing theatre reviews, interviews with queer authors and articles like "Gay in Berlin: On Both Sides of the Wall" and "Gay parents" from the mid 70's. An invaluable resource, even if the people do have stupid hair.
The archives is always looking for volunteers or donations and can be contacted at the link above.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hostel Part 3

Those play all day passes I talked about earlier, allowing me to fly all around the US instead of driving for the same price doesn't exist. They're like $3000 and some cities don't fly to cities a 2 hour drive away for some reason. Sheesh.
Also before I get started I am managing a temp at work for the next couple months and I have no idea how anyone does it. Am I surrounded by idiots or unlucky or what? I'm talking to this girl and about to show her a project. Someone stops me to ask me for a pencil and as I pull one off my desk to hand her, I turn around and the temp is gone. Back to her desk 3 floors down, in the time it takes me to turn around. WHY??? So I go get her, bring her back, really time saving.
Anyway, another visit to the dentist today, AMEX has started asking for money again, I owe them $2800, and income tax denied by request to waive the penalty of $300 on my account, so I now owe them $600. I may have paid for my ticket to Berlin, but will I be sleeping under the street when I get there???
I need some hostels, let's see what's available!
Krakow - May 14 & 15 - I found the Tom and Greg Hostel for about $20 a night. There was another one for about $10 a night but this said you can walk to the main train station which is where I need to go to get to Auschwitz on the 15th and to Prague on the 16th. I'm most scared about trying to get around in Poland where I know nothing of the language. Oh and Prague I guess as I don't even know what language they speak. :(

Prague - May 16, 17 and 18 - Here I'll be staying at Sir Toby's Hostel. The reviews for this place were nuts, everyone loved it. For $26 CDN a night I get a single bed (no bunks! - bunk beds were available for $20 a night, it's worth $6 to not have someone on top of you all night.... wait a minute....). When booking I'm looking for location to the train or airport and reviews.

Also Prague Castle looks like a cool place to visit, the biggest castle in the world.

Berlin - May 19-24 - The most difficult thing even booking is the currency. In one week I will be in three countries, each with a different currency. 1400 CZX seems like a lot of money. Eeek!
Ok, Berlin. The #1 Hostel is apparently The Circus. Doesn't it sound rowdy? I tried booking online but it didn't work so I submitted an inquiry. About $25 a night. If it doesn't work I can stay here.

Shall I try for the trains now? I'll leave an itinerary for another day, this has taken me about 2 hours so far. The site I'm taking this all from is Trip Advisor, it's what I use to plan all my trips. Type Prague Hostels and it gives you 75 specialty accommodations in Prague, sorted by popularity, all with traveler reviews and prices. It was great for places like Pittsburgh where you've got 2 motels for $40 a night, which one do you pick?
I need a train from Krakow to Prague on May 16-
The trains are very confusing. This site says you can get an overnight train and sleep in a bunkbed for $17 CDN. How can that be correct? Is it a cattle car? Ok so the train leaves at 22:25. You buy tickets in the Orbis office on rynek głowny, at the station. You cannot prepay. Yipee. Yippeeeeee...... Ok so I'm doing this, wish me luck. Here's me in Poland without a hostel or train ticket at 10:30 at night... So I just emailed the Prague hostel to change my reservation, what do you want to bet they speak English?
Train from Prague to Berlin on May 19-
Will this one be easier? 30 minutes later... nothing. This sucks. The travel agency offered me $89 to Prague and $111 to Berlin. They didn't mention a sleeper train for $17 for some reason....
It says I can book a train here 89 days in advance (the end of February) for 56 euros, $82.50 CDN. I think I'll do this.
That wasn't difficult..... (5 hours later...)

Monday, January 28, 2008

$2000 in 2 days

Yikes. While I'm going to be traveling.
I booked my flight to Krakow, $945.
May 13 - 5:30 pm on Air Canada, arrive in Frankfurt at 7 am
May 14 - 8:30 am on Lufthansa, arrive in Krakow at 10:05 am
May 25 - 9:10 am on Lufthansa from Berlin to Munich, arrive 10:20 am
May 25 - 11:40 am on Air Canada, arrive Toronto 2:35 pm

I'm noticing the same problem I had when I went to England, I leave here at 5 pm, fly for 9 hours and arrive at 10 am. It's going to feel like 2 in the morning. Hopefully the plane will be full of small children again so I can get as little sleep as possible.

Last time I flew I had to change the times 3 times, I asked how much to change the date, he said $300. Won't be doing that!

Then I bought Red Sox tickets, $94 for the floor and $26 for the bleachers. They have basically 3 price levels, $94, $60 and $30. Ugh. So I got one at $90 and one at $26. It was funny, the tickets went on sale at 10 am Saturday, at midnight Saturday I still hadn't gotten through.

I also rented the car for my road trip in August, $545.48 for 15 days. You know how they have those one price tickets on airlines, like fly anywhere you want for 15 days for $500 or something? Maybe I should check into that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Protest song, 1968

My eyes have seen the coming of the Negros and the Jews
I have seen the country trampled, the laws of men abused
But you crush the homosexual with anything you choose
and we go marching on.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
And we keep marching on.
We're drowned out by injustice til our whispers can't be heard.
You have shattered all our hopes and dreams and yet we've never stirred.
We're rising in a chorus and soon you'll hear every word
as we go marching on.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
As we go marching on.
Civil rights you take from us, we want them back again.
And we'll talk and fight and picket until we see you bend.
If you do not give them to us we will take them in the end
as we go marching on.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
As we go marching on.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Colouring with Jesus - now featuring pedophilia!

Colouring with Jesus has never been more fun!

Look at the guy's face, I love it.

I love how the guy giving the kid is like shaking him. "Take this, see!"
There's a lot of parents going up the river over this picture.
In this shot doesn't the internet villian look like the guy on the cover of Miss Kinsey's Report? I can't picture a 6 year old girl colouring this guy in for some reason... well not without being traumatized for life.

In this final shot, the little boy appears to be getting dressed after a quick romp with the priest. Fun!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

AIDS Quilt - The Power Plant Exhibit

On display are two pieces of the Canadian AIDS quilt. (Click all images to enlarge them)

A close up of a piece of one of the squares, a journal entry from the man who passed away.

This is meant to be the last square added to the quilt.

This is a close up of one of the patches and the individual pieces that make it up. Each square is 3' by 6', the size of a coffin. In the earliest days of AIDS funeral homes and grave yards would not take bodies that had AIDS for fear of catching the disease, so in some cases these patches are all that remain.

Here is another patch. There was a video accompanying the presentation explaining how the quilt is neutral, it is not a political tool. Catholic high schools that won't let AIDS education workers come in and talk about transmission, prevention and condom use will allow the quilt to be shown. It's a reminder that these people lived, had personalities, and a picture of their souls.

A picture of another piece of the quilt.

The last time the quilt was displayed in its entirety, in 1996 in Washington DC. Today it weighs over 54 tons and has over 40,000 pieces.

It was also a very cold day for skating.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Not Afraid of the Fey

Tim Gunn is sex on legs, they call him a dandy, he is fabulous.

I remember growing up watching Are You Being Served? and seeing Mr. Humphries and being angry that they would portray gays like that, that we weren't all nelly and being very concerned with masculinity and walking properly. I remember having that drilled into me from a very young age and I'd like to be more free and call people "honey" once in a while.

I spent the weekend watching Project Runway and in season 1 Austin Scarlett:
was a sexy bitch. I bet he's fierce as hell in bed and I love the Farah Fawcett flip hair. One of the best things I've learned from studying all this gay history is that I'm so comfortable now with every aspect of being gay, bring on the fay. I wish I had a sense of style or money. I'd love to wear a full length evening coat with a hot purse. I think I'd also have to be about 100 pounds lighter, so that's off the table for today. But I do wish I had taken home ec and not spent so long ignoring anything feminine and perceiving it as a weakness.

Also today my house burnt down:

Well maybe not down but it was filled with smoke and the firemen came. I did my best Scarlett O'Hara impression in my housecoat and begged to be rescued but someone mentioned something about the fire not being that bad and something about a "flamer".
Yesterday I saw "We Will Rock You" and it couldn't have been better. I sat in the VERY front row, about 4 feet from the performers, which was a bit too close, when I go back I'd rather have the luxury box for the same $25. It was so great, it was like they were reading my mind. I'd think "They should have a tribute to Freddy Mercury" and then they did. Or the hot French-Canadian boy, I'd think "I wonder what it sounds like when he speaks French?" and then he did. The "Killer Queen" was this fierce black mama with a fat bottom who rocked the whole place, again I couldn't have been happier with the performance.
Tonight I'm supposed to be at a Kids on TV concert but I had a little anxiety going to the show last night by myself and don't want to repeat that 2 nights in a row. So often I'll get somewhere and think "What the fuck am I doing, why didn't I just stay home?" until I loosen up. I always feel that on my trips. I read Christopher Isherwood was the same way, but the difference is I loosen up and he never seemed to. And still we keep going.
Tomorrow brunch at the Golden Griddle which I used to go to all the time when I was 6 or 7 with my mom, and then the Power Plant for an exhibition on the AIDS quilt which weighs 51 tons and is currently being taken care of by 10 people. What to do with it? What to do with any of us?
Back to Project Runway, auf wiedersehen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Obituaries x 2

Amersia Thompson (1969-2007)
Picture from the Adam Dunn collection "Pin Woman Beside Jailbait DVD Kid" and "Pin Woman Beside Jailbait DVD Kid 1", sorry no better pictures...

The word “fan” is not only over-used, it’s often used inaccurately. By definition, a fan is “an enthusiastic devotee” or “fanatic.” That’s heavy stuff. So, in order to supply verbiage for sportscasters and radio hosts, perhaps we can find an additional description for those who only casually follow a team.

Amersia Thompson was NOT one of those people.

Despite the presence of epilepsy, Amersia attended every Blue Jay home game. Her loyalty seemed unparalleled.

She was always the first person in the door, and therefore, the first to stand aside the dugout while the players took batting practice. Not surprisingly, most of them knew her name. The title “World’s Biggest Fan,” trumpeted proudly on the back of Amersia’s jersey, was an indisputable claim.

Becoming dedicated to a team of any kind can be a lonely pursuit, but judging by the number of people that crammed a Baptist Church in Scarborough, Ont., recently, Amersia was not without friends. Sadly, they were there for her funeral. She died on Jan. 3 at the fresh age of 38.

Amersia was so familiar to those around the ballpark she should have been on the payroll. Clearly, the team took note of her loyalty, as both Jay Stenhouse, the director of communications, and John Spalding, who manned the gate Amersia entered every game, where in the church.

Prior to the ceremony, a succession of photographs filled a large screen in front: there was Amersia with Woody Williams or Pat Hentgen or Darrin Fletcher. There she was in her seat or hanging out near the dugout. Beneath the pictures, her coffin was draped in a Blue Jay flag.

Though she was always quick with a smile and a greeting, I can’t say I knew Amersia well. Still, I know of no bigger fan.
- Jamie Campbell

Brad Renfro (1982-2008)

Brad Renfro started out in films like The Cure and The Client, playing older as a child ahead of his times. He got gay notoriety for his lead role in the film Bully, displaying his excellent acting skills and the Stephen King film Apt Pupil, which was the subject of several lawsuits regarding the purported use of male minors as extras in a nude shower scene, in which he played opposite gay legend Ian McKellen.
He was arrested for buying heroin in 2005 and seemed to be the Hollywood child star that everyone saw slipping and no one could help. His death is ridiculous and he will be missed.

Drafting Ideas

The problem with blogger is I'm like Prince, I get a million ideas at once. I don't do a blog for a week and then I do three or four in a day. Blogger lets you save them as drafts and publish later to space it out, but it all publishes under the same day. So for example if I publish a draft I wrote last week tomorrow it will show up before this one, no one will ever see it. What's the point?
Lately I've just been carrying around a thousand pieces of paper with me everywhere I go as blog ideas, in addition to the 1000 pieces I already carry. All ideas welcome.
I'm a little exhausted today, what else is new, but today I think it's because I had major dental surgery which is fun. I had a filling break, taking a piece of my tooth with it, so I had to go in and get a temporary crown. Later I will go back and get the permanent one. The dentist said if the temp starts to fall off I'm supposed to use Super Poly Grip to hold it on. These little injustices occur so infrequently, with so few milestones, they all run together. When was my first gray hair? I don't want to have to think of any more, it's too embarrassing, but the day I go to buy Super Poly Grip just wheel me away, I'm done.
Someone asked if I got rich off eBay. I made $922.95 according to eBay. It's all pointless anyway, $350 to the dentist, $50 in groceries, $75 to the phone bill and I'm left with about 10 cents. Honestly, I put $1000 off my paycheck and the $900 from eBay on my credit card, my available balance is only $1100. And I did spend $70 on books, but I thought that was good seeing as I saw the mecca that is the Gay and Lesbian Archives last week. I go back tomorrow, can't wait! Now when I think about buying a book, I think about how it's bound to show up at the archives and I can usually resist.
The three I bought are:
1 - The Happy Hustler - Published in 1975 to ride the coattails of "The Happy Hustler" this book is the story of a man who sleeps with both men and women and includes a nude centerfold, the first I've seen in an autobiography.

2- The Short Happy Sex Life of Stud Sorell and 69 Other Stories by Orlando Paris - Published in the 60's in pulp format, this is a book of gay poems. I read one in the archives and loved it.
3 - The World, the Flesh and Myself by Michael Davidson - Published in 1962, this autobiography has "humour in most of his observations - and observe he does: from WW1 through the rise of Nazism, the Scrubs, Morocco, Italy, England in the heyday '20's, people left over from Victorian times, class, communism, injustice and of course, beautiful boys from all over the world."

Today In History: A Spunky ONE And The U.S. Post Office

Today marks a very important milestone in LGBT history. Fifty years ago today, on January 13, 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its first ever pro-gay ruling in ONE Inc. v. Olesen, a landmark decision that allowed a magazine for gays and lesbians to be sent through the U.S. mail.

ONE, Inc. was founded by several members of the Los Angeles Mattachine Society who felt that a strong nationwide voice for education and advocacy was desperately needed. According to ONE, Inc.’s articles of incorporation, “…the specific and primary purposes … are to publish and disseminate a magazine dealing primarily with homosexuality from the scientific, historical and critical point of view, and to aid in the social integration and rehabilitation of the sexual variant.” But this wasn’t going to be just any magazine. Under the inaugural editorial leadership of Martin Block, Dale Jennings, Don Slater and Donald Webster Cory, ONE magazine was to be a first class product, a dramatic departure from the typewritten and mimeographed sheets which were more common at the time.

ONE, January 1953So when ONE debuted in January 1953, it sported a very sophisticated look, with bold graphics and professional typset and design. ONE’s slick offering quickly caught the attention gays and lesbians across the country, and circulation jumped to nearly 2,000 within a few months — with most subscribers paying extra to have their magazine delivered in an unmarked wrapper. Even still, ONE’s survival depended on the day jobs of its few contributors who typically worked under multiple pen names to make the staff appear larger to readers — and sometimes to protect their own identities.

By today’s standards, an early edition of ONE might look rather tame. There were no racy pictures, and even its fiction was mostly limited to depictions of longing and desire. There was rarely any evidence of physical contact in its pages. But what the magazine lacked in raciness, it made up for in audacity. ONE’s editorial tone was bold and unapologetic, covering politics, civil rights, legal issues, police harassment (which was particularly harsh in ONE’s home city of Los Angeles), employment and familial problems, and other social, philosophical, historical and psychological topics. And most importantly, ONE quickly became a voice for thousands of silent gays and lesbians across the U.S., many of whom wrote letters of deep gratitude to ONE’s editors. But in a sign of those times, all letters to the editor were published anonymously — from “m” in Winston-Salem, North Carolina or from “f” in Beaumont, Texas.

ONE filled a very critical role for gays and lesbians during a very dark time. ONE’s debut coincided with a major push to rid the U.S. civil service of homosexuals. President Dwight D. Eisenhower would sign Executive Order 10450 in April of that year, which barred gays and lesbians from federal employment with its “sexual perversion” clause. This followed a highly-publicized purge of more than 400 gays and lesbians from the civil service some three years earlier. Homosexuality was criminalized in every states, and it was stigmatized as a mental illness by the psychiatric profession. Gays were not only denounced as security risks, but risks to the very moral fiber of the nation. Homosexuals were treated as subversives, on par with the “Communist menace” on which leading politicians were staking their career. The FBI had launched a major crackdown on homosexuality across the U.S., with many gays and lesbians losing their jobs for merely receiving homophile publications in the mail. And vice squads everywhere were setting up entrapment stings in bars and other meeting places, where a simple proposition or touch could lead to arrest and public exposure.

ONE, August 1953So when ONE caught the eye of the FBI, they immediately launched an investigation to try to shut it down. They went so far as to write to the employers of ONE’s editors and writers (they all depended on their day jobs for income), saying that their employees were “deviants” and “security risks.” Fortunately, no one lost their jobs, the FBI decided it wasn’t worth their time, and ONE continued publishing.

The job of shutting down ONE then fell to the U.S. Post Office. Since its inception, Los Angeles postal authorities vetted each issue before deciding whether it was legal to ship under the Post Office’s stringent anti-obscenity standards. And since homosexuality was illegal in most states, ONE had the added problem of possibly being guilty of promoting criminal activity. The Post Office finally acted in August 1953, holding up that month’s issue for three weeks while deciding if it violated federal laws. (Ironically, the cover story for that issue was on “homosexual marriage,” an issue that is still contentious more than fifty years later.) Finally, officials in Washington decided the magazine didn’t violate federal laws and ordered the LA Post Office to release it for shipment.

ONE, October 1953ONE, true to its aggressive stance, reacted defiantly to that move in its October issue by proclaiming in an editorial printed on the cover, “ONE is not grateful”:

Your August issue is late because the postal authorities in Washington and Los Angeles had it under a microscope. They studied it carefully from the 2nd until the 18th of September and finally decided that there was nothing obscene, lewd or lascivious in it. They allowed it to continue on its way. We have been found suitable for mailing.

…But one point must be made very clear. ONE is not grateful. ONE thanks no one for this reluctant acceptance. It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough. As we sit around quietly like nice little ladies and gentlemen gradually educating the public and the courts at our leisure, thousands of homosexuals are being unjustly arrested, blackmailed, fined, jailed, intimidated, beaten, ruined and murdered. ONE’s victory might seem big and historic as you read of it in the comfort of your home (locked in the bathroom? hidden under a stack of other magazines? sealed first class?). But the deviate hearing of our late August issue through jail bars will not be overly impressed.

ONE’s editors knew they weren’t in the clear, but they didn’t know where their next threat would come from. That threat, it appears, may have come from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Alexander Wiley (R-WI), who wrote a letter of protest to U.S. Postmaster General Aurthur Summerfield. Having run across the March 1954 issue (the cover story was “The Importance of Being Different”) Sen. Wiley registered a “vigorous protest against the use of the United States mails to transmit a so-called ‘magazine’ devoted to the advancement of sexual perversions.” Allowing a homosexual magazine to operate, he wrote, “(a) runs utterly contrary to every moral principle, (b) runs utterly contrary to our intentions to safeguard our nation’s youngsters, (c) likewise, it is the very opposite of the entire purpose of our governmental security program…”

ONE, October 1954The particulars of this action wasn’t known by ONE’s editors. But as defiant as ONE was in the October 1953 issue, they knew that the threat of closure due to censorship still loomed large — that is, if finances and distribution problems didn’t get to them first. Financial pressures forced them to skip the August and September 1954 issues and they had to extend everyone’s subscriptions by two months. To try to avoid future legal problems, ONE’s editors asked Eric Jubler, their young straight lawyer fresh out of law school, to write a set of rules for the staff to follow in the hopes of staying out of trouble. When readers began to complain that ONE was too tame, the editors asked Jubler to print his rules in the returning October 1954 issue with a cover declaring, “You Can’t Print It!” Those rules prohibited:

(1) Lonely hearts ads, seeking pen pals or meetings.

(2) “Cheesecake” art or photos. To readers who ask, “But how about all the girlie magazines?” I can only reply that in our society, visual stimulation of man by woman is tolerated to a far greater extent than attempted visual stimulation of man by man, for what is in law a criminal purpose.

(3) Descriptions of sexual acts, or the preliminaries thereto. Again here, what is permissible in heterosexual literature is not permissible in ONE’s context.

(4) Descriptions of experiences which become too explicit. I.e., permissible: “John was my friend for a year.” Not permissible: “That night we made mad love.”

(5) Descriptions of homosexuality as a practice which the author encourages in others, or waxes too enthusiastic about.

(6) Fiction with too much physical contact between the characters. I.e., characters cannot rub knees, feel thighs, hold hands, soap backs, or undress before one another. (All examples taken from recent contributions).

Pajamas AdJubler also insisted that he review each issue before it was sent to the publisher. But all this failed to keep ONE out of trouble — maybe because Jubler didn’t strictly enforce his own rules, allowing the October 1954 issue to be arguably the raciest to date. The very same issue which ran Jubler’s rules also featured a fictional short story called “Sappho Remembered,” in which two young lovers touched four times, declared their love for each other, and the story had a happy ending. Another feature, a poem, made light of the arrest of several British public figures (including actor John Gielgfud) on “morals” charges (”Lord Samuel is a legal peer / (While real are Monty’s curls!) / Some peers are seers but some are queers / And some boys WILL be girls.”). And there were two ads — one for a Swedish magazine (which, postal officials charged, meant that ONE was advertising “obscene materials”) and another for men’s pajamas and intimate wear.

That was enough for the Los Angeles Post Office to seize that issue — the one with “You Can’t Print It!” on the cover — and charge the editors with violating the 1873 Comstock Act, which prohibited sending “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” material through the mail.

The editors were eager to sue the Post Office, but ONE’s financial condition was so perilous that they held off for nearly a year. Jubler took the case for free and looked for help from the ACLU, but they wouldn’t touch it — the ACLU was still defending anti-sodomy laws at the time. Finally it was up to young Jubler alone to argue ONE’s case in federal district court that the magazine was educational and not pornographic. It didn’t go well. The judge ruled for the Post Office in March 1956, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in February 1957, calling ONE “morally depraving and debasing” and saying that the magazine “has a primary purpose of exciting lust, lewd and lascivious thoughts and sensual desires in the minds of persons reading it.”

ONE then took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. To everyone’s surprise, the Court agreed to take the case, its first ever dealing with homosexuality. Even more surprising, the Supreme Court issued its short, one-sentence decision on January 13, 1958 without hearing oral arguments. That decision not only overturned the two lower courts, but the Court expanded the First Amendment’s free speech and press freedoms by effectively limiting the power of the Comstock Act to interfere with the written word. As a result, lesbian and gay publications could be mailed without legal repercussions, though many continued to experience harassment from the Post Office and U.S. Customs.

ONE, February 1958Editor Don Slater celebrated the ONE decision in the February 1958 issue:

By winning this decision ONE Magazine has made not only history but law as well and has changed the future for all U. S. homosexuals. Never before have homosexuals claimed their right as citizens. Not even the Berdache, nor the Greeks, nor the Napoleonic Code, nor Wolfenden “recommendations,” nor The American Law Institute “recommendations” have managed to mean so much to so many. ONE Magazine no longer asks for the right to be heard; it now exercises that right. It further requires that homosexuals be treated as a proper part of society free to discuss and educate and propagandize their beliefs with no greater limitations than for any other group.

…The New York Times has this to say about the decision: “The court today reversed a post office ban on a magazine, One, which deals with homosexuality. The petition for review filed by the lawyer, Eric Julber of Los Angeles, had apparently raised only one question: was the magazine ‘obscene’ within the statute banning importation of obscene matter? The court’s order appeared to answer: No.”

True to its educational mission, ONE, Inc founded the One Institute as an educational arm in 1956. In 1958, the ONE Institute Quarterly became the first academic journal on gay and lesbian studies in America. ONE magazine’s last issue was in 1967 following a very long and acrimonious split in ONE, Inc.’s governing board. Today, the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives houses the world’s largest research library on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,and Transgender history near the main campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Sources: Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court, by Joyce Murdoch & Deb Price.

ONE magazine, October 1953, October 1954, February, 1958.