Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Editor's Letter

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Editor's Letter

Article excerpt

Anniversaries are important around here for several reasons. First, as editors and reporters, we enjoy digging through our archives to get a closer look at the impulses, philosophies, triumphs, and setbacks that propelled our predecessors to build the publication we create today. Immersing ourselves in a time of radical politics and sexual revolution, in the legacy that began before much of our staff was born, makes our predecessors all the more real to us now, and the urgency of their mission all the more tangible.

We reinvigorate ourselves in their work knowing that, from the beginning, The Advocate has been an agent for change, a voice for the marginalized, and a connective thread that brought isolated people together; even if our most solitary readers couldn't always meet other LGBT folks, then at least they knew others existed--and that the fight for rights and visibility was under way.

Another reason we celebrate anniversaries is the sheer improbability of them all. In our first anniversary issue in 1968, the editors wrote almost incredulously about having survived. "One year ago this month, the first issue of The Los Angeles Advocate was published--all 500 copies of it." That issue was 12 pages, printed on 8 1/2-by-11 paper, surreptitiously copied by gay men who worked for ABC Television in the basement of the network's Los Angeles offices. Issues cost 25 cents each (the equivalent of $1.72 today) and were distributed from behind the counters of the city's gay bars, a production and delivery method that mirrored the clandestine nature of being gay in that era.

This publication had an inauspicious and shaky beginning that belied its weighty, self-imposed mantle. The mission laid out in the first editorial was described this way: "The Advocate's main purpose is to publish news that is important to the homosexual--legal steps, social news, developments in the various organizations--anything the homosexual needs to know or wants to know." (That "anything" is whole lot, as it turns out.) Incidentally, that issue carried $24 worth of advertising, two thirds of which was never paid for.

In 1969 the magazine changed to a newspaper tabloid size that remained the format for many years, and in 1970 we began printing the magazine twice a month. The Advocate maintained that breakneck frequency until just a few years ago. In 1974 the scope of the publication expanded beyond its Southern California origins, and it became a true national magazine. …

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