October 27, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

GAY L.A. – In 1958, Gay Rights Won For the First Time

When the Supreme Court sided with a gay magazine, history was made.

Before the 1950s, America didn’t have any gay publications. While there may have been pulpy Gay and Lesbian fiction for folks to read and a few movies about gay life playing in cinemas (1936’s “These Three” and 1944’s “Laura” come to mind,) there weren’t any magazines or even pamphlets that queer folks could pick up to read about gay life. To put out an out-and-out gay magazine was just too risky, and while Lisa Ben, the RKO staffer who put out the country’s first lesbian magazine-cum-newspaper in the 1940s, was responsible for penning entire issues of “Vice Versa,” she had to keep it quiet.

Then the 1950s happened. The Mattachine Society, started up by Harry Hay and a few other prominent gay men in Los Angeles in 1950, decided to start up its own publication: Something that would cover serious political issues concerning LGBT rights as well as topical subjects and happenings. The first issue of ONE magazine came out in January 1953, and while the Los Angeles gay community was happy about it, law enforcement was not.

To put things in a bit of context: This was before Stonewall, before the Black Cat protests in Silverlake, even before the Cooper’s Donuts riot in 1958 where rent boys and drag queens headed off the cops at a late-night hangout in L.A.’s “gay ghetto.” The world may have been ready for ONE magazine’s frank treatment of civil rights, social justice and gay life, but the U.S. Postal Service was not. A magazine boasting the headline “Something About Sailors” simply wasn’t going to go unnoticed by the world at large.

According to Matt Baume, who hosts the podcast “The Sewers of Paris,” ONE tried to come out quietly in the early years, featuring:

“No matchmaking ads; no racy photos; no descriptions of physical intimacy—even cuddling. But the following year, an issue contained ads for sheer pajamas and a short story that involved some touching, which led the Post Office to seize the issue.”

The Post Office refused to mail issues of ONE through the mail. While issues were mostly sold in bars, it was being mailed enough to get under the skin of Los Angeles Postmaster Otto Olesen. ONE found itself on the wrong side of the law, with no one, not even the L.A. ACLU to help out. ONE’s attorney Eric Julber had a long journey ahead of him. He not only had to convince the Supreme Court that ONE wasn’t “filthy.” He had to make a strong case that a publication dealing frankly with homosexuality isn’t the same thing an obscene or pornographic publication.

And miracle of miracles, he won. After losing out in court the first time, Julber got a swift reversal in 1958, thanks to the fact that previous cases dealing with nudity and “polygamy” had eventually won. While this victory might seem small to us, it set an important precedent. Even before the official start of the Gay Rights Movement, ONE was making history, right here in L.A.

Related Posts

World’s First LGBTQ Mariachi Band Performs for the Center to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles—the world’s first LGBTQ mariachi—entertained more than 50 Center clients and staff members with an exuberant...

LGBTQ Car Show In Long Beach

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

Great Autos car club got a chance to show off its Rainbow Car Show to the Marina Pacifica parking lot...

New Documentary Pays Tribute to Transgender ‘AIDS diva’ Connie Norman

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

A new documentary titled “AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman,” will pay tribute to the transgender leader in AIDS...

New Senior Housing From LA LGBT Center’s Ariadne Getty Foundation

October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

The LA LGBT Center has completed construction of a new senior housing complex next-door to its Anita May Rosenstein Campus...

Team Trans* Walk-Out At Netflix Office In Hollywood

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Netflix’s trans employee resource group is planning a Team Trans* employee walk-out on October 20th at the Netflix office located...

WeHo Announces “Hybrid” City Council Meetings

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

The City of West Hollywood will begin ‘hybrid’ in-person and teleconference city council meetings.  Starting on Monday, October 18th the...

Annual Youth Halloween Carnival Hosted By WeHo

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

The City of West Hollywood will host the Annual Youth Halloween Carnival.  The City of West Hollywood’s Recreation Services Division...

Marathon Runners Heading To WeHo

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Runners in the 2021 Los Angeles Marathon presented by Asics will be making their way through the City of West...

Minor League Star Kieran Lovegrove Comes Out As Bisexual

October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

Minor league and MLB prospect baseball star Kieran Lovegrove has publicly come out as bisexual. Lovegrove opened up about his...

Los Angeles LGBT Center Opens New Facility In South Los Angeles

October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

Los Angeles LGBT Center has opened a new facility in South Los Angeles to serve the health needs of LGBT...

AIDS/LifeCycle Kick Off Ride

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

AIDS/LifeCycle is kicking off it’s 2022 training season to end AIDS on October 16th.  Riders can sign up for the...

WeHo Spreading The Word About Extended Residential Tenant Protections

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

County of Los Angeles extension of residential tenant protections will apply to West Hollywood residential tenants through January 31, 2022. ...

National Coming Out Day In Pasadena

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

Celebrate National Coming Out Day in Pasadena Memorial Park for its annual celebration. Pasadena Public Health Department, Pasadena Public Library...

WeHo To Support Cleanup and Wildlife Rescue Efforts After Orange County Oil Spill

October 7, 2021

October 7, 2021

The City of West Hollywood Activates ‘West Hollywood Responds’, a program to encourage donations to support cleanup and wildlife rescue...

WeHo to Recognize October as Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month

October 7, 2021

October 7, 2021

The City of West Hollywood has announced that it would recognize October as Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence Awareness...