Y-fronts celebrate 80th birthday

Undated handout photo issued by Jockey International of a model wearing Y-fronts

Undated handout photo issued by Jockey International of a model wearing Y-fronts

BY PRESS ASSOCIATION, 3 JANUARY 2015 10.09AM. UPDATED: 5 JANUARY 2015 10:56PM.

The Y-front is set to celebrate its 80-year history which has seen it go from a hurriedly-removed window display in a Chicago department store to underwear staple for men the world over.

Arthur Kneibler’s Jockey briefs first went on sale on January 19, 1935 at the Marshall Field & Co department store, placed on show in the window during one of the worst blizzards of the winter.

The store’s managers promptly demanded the display be removed, thinking it ridiculous to flaunt such a skimpy design in the middle of winter – but not before customers had snapped up 600 pairs.

Some 30,000 pairs were sold in the next three months alone.

Mr Kneibler, the vice president of marketing at a company called Coopers, was inspired by a picture of a man in a sleek, supportive swimsuit, going on to encourage his design team to create a new kind of underwear called “the brief”.

The only successor to the long john had been the boxer short, a cotton version of trunks worn by boxers.

They did not sell well with customers due to their lack of support, but the “jock strap”, mostly worn by the jockeys or messengers who rode penny farthings, did.

Mr Kneibler named his new creation the Jockey brief, and Coopers is now known as Jockey International.

They went on sale in Britain in 1938, at Simpsons in Piccadilly, where they sold at a rate of 3,000 a week.

In 1948 every male athlete in the British Olympic team was given a free pair of Y-fronts.

To date, it has been banned for being too skimpy, survived the recession to outsell its more glamorous cousin the boxer short and has become a Christmas staple across the world for men of all ages.

According to Debenhams, sales of Y-fronts increased by 35% in 2009 and outsold boxer shorts in March of that year for the first time since the early 1990s – the last time Britain was in recession.

Three years earlier, a pair of 37-year-old Y-fronts were sold in the UK on eBay for £127.

A second pair sold for £90 to a buyer in Hong Kong.

Jockey marketing manager Ruth Stevens said: ” Although competition from the boxer is fierce, time and time again the Y-front has been used in ultra-masculine ads and films, such as From Russia With Love when they appeared on the ultimate man’s man James Bond in 1963, all the way up to 2012 where Zac Efron spent much of his time in them in the film The Paperboy.

“This positioning of the Y-front as masculine yet practical ensures its popularity remains high.

“Underwear trends seem to be coming full circle as we head back towards the classics. Y-fronts are cool.”

Summer Friends – Vintage Male Photography

For those who didn’t spot this article, or who have missed the wonderful video slide shows produced by Wayne Brighton.

 

It seems that everyone loves vintage photography, including us!  This is the latest video by Wayne Brighton who has put together some pretty incredible videos of vintage guys on his YouTube channel and we love every single one of them.  We aren’t sure where he gets the images as they seem to be actual photos, but the videos are very well done and we hope that he continues to make them!

Gay marriage law comes into effect in Scotland

Douglas Pretsell, from Edinburgh, and Peter Gloster, from Melbourne, formalised their marriage in SydneyDouglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster formalised their marriage in Sydney

Scotland’s new law on same-sex marriages has come into effect.

Existing civil partnerships can now be converted to a marriage and other same-sex couples can give notice of their intention to wed.

The new legislation was used for the first time shortly after midnight when one couple upgraded their civil partnership at the British consulate in Sydney.

The first gay weddings in Scotland will take place on Hogmanay.

Because Australia is 11 hours ahead, Douglas Pretsell, from Edinburgh, and Peter Gloster, from Melbourne, completed the paperwork to formalise their marriage hours before registrars open for business in Scotland.

The couple have been together for seven years and had their civil partnership in August 2010 at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, East Lothian.

‘It’s official’

Mr Pretsell told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It was kind of coincidental. we weren’t originally intending to be the first at all.

“We sent an email to the consulate asking how long after the weddings came in that we would be able to change our certificate.

“We got an email back from them, asking if we would be able to come in at 11am on the 16th and saying we would probably be one of the first in the world.”

Leanne and Marie Banks signing the documentsLeanne and Marie Banks were one of the first gay couples in Scotland to become married

The couple earlier said: “We always considered our civil partnership to be our marriage, but in the eyes of the law and society it wasn’t held in the same regard.

“Prior to today, same-sex couples were deliberately treated as though our relationships were inferior and not worthy of the same recognition or respect.

“Well, from today it’s official, we are married and we have the certificate to prove it.”

‘Day of celebration’

One of the first gay couples to become married in Scotland were Leanne and Marie Banks.

They were at Dundee Registrars’ office at 08:45 to sign the documents.

A number of other Scots couples, already in civil partnerships, are also planning to make the conversion.

Others wishing to become married must give the normal 15-day notice period, meaning the first weddings can take place on 31 December.

Tom French, from the Equality Network, which ran the campaign for equal marriage in Scotland, said: “Today is both a day of celebration and a hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights in Scotland, both in terms of equality in the law and the way in which same-sex relationships are viewed in society.

“In recent years Scotland has become a leading light on LGBTI equality, with one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world, helping to create the fair and equal society we all want to see.”

Holding handsThe first gay weddings in Scotland will take place on 31 December

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “Many of the couples celebrating today and in the weeks and months ahead have been together for decades and in a civil partnership since they were introduced in 2005.

“While there is still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is truly equal in Scotland, this is a day of celebration and we know these ceremonies will be a wonderful early Christmas present for many couples, their friends and families.’

The law on same-sex marriages has already changed in England and Wales.

The change in Scotland comes as a survey revealed a huge rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past 12 years.

More than two-thirds of people (68%) agreed that gay couples should have the right to marry, according to the figures from the Social Attitudes Survey, which tracks public opinions on a range of subjects.

The figure compares with just two-fifths of the public (41%) in 2002.

The 2014 survey suggested fewer than a fifth (17%) of Scots were against same-sex marriage, compared to 29% in 2002.

Younger people were more likely to believe gay couples should be allowed to wed than older Scots, with 83% of 18 to 24-year-olds in favour compared to 44% of those aged 65 and above.

MSPs approved the Marriage and Civil Partnership Act at Holyrood earlier this year.

The Scottish government said the move was the right thing to do, but Scotland’s two main churches – the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland – are opposed.

The legislation will see religious and belief bodies opting in to perform same-sex marriages, and ministers have stressed that no part of the religious community would be forced to hold such ceremonies in churches

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-30486804

Gay W. Virginia high school soccer player comes out by dancing with homecoming king

Michael Martin, left, with Jem at Jem’s homecoming dance. – Andrew Martin photo

Michael Martin, an all-state goalie, slow danced with the guy who gave him the courage to be himself. Inspired by Robbie Rogers, Martin now hopes to inspire others.

It was something I thought I’d never do — dance a slow dance with the homecoming king at his high school.

I am an 18-year-old senior all-state high school soccer goalie for Musselman High School in West Virginia. I also have been on the school’s football, tennis and swim teams. And I am openly gay. Growing up in rural West Virginia, it’s not the easiest place to be a gay teenager and it took me a long time to come out to myself and others.

Yet there we were, Jem and I, on an October night this fall, slow dancing with each other. We attend schools in different counties and met through friends and I was thrilled that he asked me to his dance so we could be together. He was wearing his gray vest and pink bow tie while I had on my black shirt with a gold tie. We danced to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, which was a perfect song for my first dance with a guy.

We both started the dance with our female friends who were our “dates.” The final song came on and Jem and I danced for a brief time. It was my first school event where I was with another guy, even though we came to the dance separately. I held his hand when we went to get refreshments and when we took breaks from dancing. It was a weird feeling for me, since I had just barely started coming out. I was nervous yet excited. After the dance we went to his house. That is where I asked him to be my boyfriend. I posed the question by writing it on the dry erase board on his wall. He quickly said yes.

My homecoming dance at Musselman — two weeks after the dance at Jem’s school — was the big moment I revealed being gay to my school. Jem was the date of girl at Musselman and her outside guest for the dance, while I went “alone.” The girl knew Jem and I were together. I was on the homecoming court, which was a big honor and something I never thought would happen. Only some people knew about me before the homecoming, so it was a shocker for some seeing me dance with another guy.

Jem and I danced all night to the most popular pop songs. But it was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria — “Remember When” by Alan Jackson. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. “That is so cute!” some girls said. It made us felt accepted.

Word quickly spread and the following week I sensed that some guys were looking at me differently. My friends even told me people were talking about me in a negative way in different classes. “He is a faggot now,” I was told some people said. My friends courageously stood up for me and I am so proud to call them my friends.

MikeMartin2Michael Martin won All-State honors this year. (Photo by Andrew Martin).

Dancing with another guy in front of my fellow students would have seemed like the last thing I would ever do when I started high school. When I was a freshman I knew I was not like other guys on the Musselman High varsity soccer team. They were always talking about their girlfriends and I always felt that I could never say anything about my sexuality. I was just a freshman, and I was scared of being mocked by my teammates when I was just trying to fit in. The team threw around the words “gay” and “faggot” a lot. I felt I would never be safe if I did come out.

Musselman High School is located in Inwood, W. Va. The school is named for the Musselman applesauce company and we are called the Applemen. Inwood is only about two hours from Washington, DC, and Baltimore but culturally is far from city life. Inwood is a pretty conservative town. The students, however, are very diverse in their culture and beliefs; the range runs from rednecks to foreign exchange students. I live in isolated mountain area, so I didn’t have any kids to hang around with when I was younger. I was alone but even at a young age I knew I didn’t like girls and found boys attractive instead. I could never tell anyone since my family is really conservative and religious.

MikePortrait(Photo by Jeremiah Carver)

I was silent about my sexuality until my junior year when I told my best friend, Ben, who was a senior at the time and on the soccer team. I waited until after the soccer season so I wouldn’t have to worry about him telling any of my teammates.

The cold winter air and the campfire at Ben’s house that night made it the perfect environment in which to tell him my news. I was scared to death, but summoned up the courage and was direct: “I hope this doesn’t change our friendship but I am gay.” His response was simple but it meant the world to me: “There is nothing that can change our friendship.” Thankfully, Ben accepted me (he said he had suspected) and promised to not tell anyone until I was ready.

My junior year was a strange time for me. I played football and soccer in the fall (in West Virginia they are in the same season). I punted for the football team, but never felt comfortable. I was always scared about my sexuality on the team, surrounded by a bunch of country boys and jocks who would definitely make fun of me if they knew I was gay. I felt useless, which is why I dropped the sport in the senior year and focused solely on soccer.

Things were better in my favorite sport. My coach for my traveling soccer team laid down the law that there was not going to be any racism or discrimination based on sexuality, which made me feel safe. I still did not have the guts to tell anyone I was gay. My travel coach never knew that I was gay nor did I tell him but he was determined to create a safe environment on the team. We were a very diverse team that played well together and were a state finalist three years in a row.

The experience of coming out was very rough for me to do but it really took off this fall. When I started to talk with Jem I was comfortable with myself and wasn’t ashamed like I was in years past. For me to be happy, though, I needed to come out. I didn’t want to hide how I really was any more. I didn’t want to live every day with a secret hanging over my head. I told my team before my own parents. My family was not accepting at first but is starting to come around and support me. I just had to keep telling them that I can’t change who I am and that I am the same teenager that I was before.

I came out to my soccer team one step at a time. Since I was dating Jem, I decided to become truthful with everyone. I never held a team meeting. Instead, I told some players and then they told others and these people asked me for confirmation. They couldn’t believe that I was gay, because they said “I always acted so straight.”

Teammates were curious and I got a lot of questions. I also got teased by my teammates closest to me making jokes or saying sexual things, but I know they were just kidding. Actually, their joking told me they were OK with things. I also knew that even if someone did say something negative that a lot of my teammates would have my back. Recently I was named captain for the Musselman swim team. They all know about my sexuality and gratefully are accepting.

Despite my fears, I feel very safe at my school when comes to LGBT issues; we even have a Gay Straight Alliance Club. I have made a lot new friends and my previous friends who are girls love me more and we have become better friends. I still get told that girls have crushes on me, before someone then breaks the news to them that I am gay.

As I am graduating next spring, I have been talking to several college coaches about playing soccer at their schools. That will be a whole new level, a whole new school, group of friends, and new teammates. But I won’t be afraid of being myself since I am proud to play as an athlete who happens to be gay.

Mike MartinsaveMichael Martin was inspired to come out by Robbie Rogers (Photo by Andrew Martin).

I try to prove myself in sports not just for myself but for other gay athletes. I want to show everyone that I am just as good as anyone else in my sport. Being a two-time goalkeeper of the year for my conference, making the All-State team and being two-time M.V.P for Musselman and defender of the year makes me proud.

I remember a playoff game with the varsity when I was only a freshman. We were playing our rivals and lost 1-0 on a goal with 10 minutes left. The goal was on a perfect shot in the upper corner, but it was so depressing for me. I felt like I let the team down but I kept my head up. It motivated me to become a better player the next three years.

One athletic highlight for me and one that showed I could play on a high level came when I had a tryout for the West Virginia’s Olympic development soccer team. I was very nervous during the tryout and I felt like did well. My training paid off and I made the team. It was a great exposure to quality soccer for me and it feels good to say that I was a part of that team.

My soccer hero and the man who inspired me to come out is Robbie Rogers of the Los Angeles Galaxy. I loved how he announced he was gay and did not quit playing soccer. He gave me hope and confidence to be true to myself. Once he came out I started to contemplate doing the same myself and being proud of who I am. He recently published a book, “Coming Out to Play,” which my friend Ben got me for my birthday. I can tell you that after reading the book, Robbie should be every soccer player’s idol, gay or straight. I am so proud that he recently won a MLS Cup with the Galaxy.

I have learned that being gay does not mean you are a lesser of a human being. If I can come out in a small town in West Virginia and be accepted, and dance with the homecoming king, it shows things are changing. I hope my performances and story help inspire other gay teens to show their true colors and not be afraid to play the sport they love.

Michael Martin, 18, is a senior at Musselman High School in Inwood, West Virginia, and is goalie for his school’s soccer team; he was named All-State this season. His hobbies include photography and the outdoors. His career dreams include owning historic hotels or producing sustainable foods. He can be reached via email at soccer4h96@gmail.com or on Twitter @martinofcompany. You can also check out his photography on Instagram (@wvnatureboy).

Story editor: Jim Buzinski

Here’s What The World’s Queer Community Has Already Accomplished (Or Hasn’t Yet) This Century

Posted: Updated:

For queer people, in many ways, there has never been a time in history like the present. Although oppression and inequality are still rampant, there have also in recent years been a number of firsts, breakthroughs and other positive developments that once seemed like they would never come.

2014 was an especially good year for queer equality in the U.S. Over 60 percent of Americans now live in states that permit same-sex marriage, and advocates in ever-increasing numbers are speaking out for the cause.

We don’t mean to suggest that there haven’t been setbacks, or that things aren’t still wildly unjust in almost every part of the world. But at the same time, we think it’s worth observing, and celebrating, the real progress that the 21st century has brought to many.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most important milestones in queer rights from the past 14 years. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2015 and beyond.

 

 

Note: For ease of navigation, we recommend viewing on a non-mobile device.

 

Link to Timeline

Daniel J Danielsen – a pioneering humanitarian who helped Roger Casement expose the horror of Belgian rule in the Congo

An Irishman’s Diary on a Faroese hero

The Faroese government has issued a stamp with pictures of both Daniel J Danielsen and Roger CasementThe Faroese government has issued a stamp with pictures of both Daniel J Danielsen and Roger Casement

Mon, Dec 15, 2014, 01:01 – The Irish Times

In the campaign to expose the appalling enslavement and exploitation of Congo natives by King Leopold II of Belgium, the names of two great humanitarians, Roger Casement (the 150th anniversary of whose birth occurred this year) and ED Morel, deservedly stand out. Now, thanks to the researches of Óli Jacobsen, a third name may be added – that of a humble Faroese missionary called Daniel J Danielsen.

Óli Jacobsen’s book on his fellow Faroese national has just been published and, to mark the occasion, the Faroese government has issued a stamp with pictures of both Danielsen and Casement. Adam Hochschild, the author of King Leopold’s Ghost, has described the book as doing “a fascinating job of restoring a previously forgotten man to his rightful place in the 20th century’s first great humanitarian crusade”.

Danielsen is remembered today, if at all, in the Faroes as one of the very early evangelists of the Plymouth Brethren movement there. He was also the first Faroese to serve as a missionary outside the islands, when he worked for the Congo Balolo Mission from 1901 to 1903.

Faroes

Óli Jacobsen had been writing short biographies of significant Faroese personalities when he decided to investigate Danielsen’s story. He had no expectation of finding anything of consequence to any history beyond that of the Faroes, so it came as a surprise to him to discover Danielsen’s significant contribution to Roger Casement’s investigation into conditions in the Belgian Congo on behalf of the British government.

ED Morel had been running a sustained writing campaign in Britain about the way natives of the Congo Free State were being treated, his information coming from British, American and Scandinavian missionaries, among others. Eventually the issue was taken up in parliament and the result of the debate was that Casement, the British consul in the Congo region, was sent to investigate the allegations.

In order to carry out an adequate investigation, Casement needed to be able to travel freely in the area but, hardly surprisingly, the Belgian authorities were not altogether willing to cooperate. He had to find an independent means of transport, especially to be able to travel up the Congo river to visit some of the more remote villages.

He had already established contact with Protestant English-speaking missionaries and eventually succeeded in hiring a steamer, the SS Henry Reed, from the American Baptist Missionary Union. The steamer was not in great working order and he was fortunate to meet and persuade Danielsen, who was an engineer, to accompany him on his journey.

He afterwards recorded his indebtedness to Danielsen, in a letter to the British foreign secretary, the Marquess of Lansdowne. “Mr Danielsen’s services were of the very greatest value: indeed without his help, I could not have proceeded very far on my journey. The Henry Reed is one of the oldest vessels still navigating the Upper Congo, having been launched in 1885. I think it was chiefly due to Mr Danielsen’s skill and hard work that she was kept running so long with me on board. As it was, we sprang a leak coming down the river on 13th September and apart from other consideration, I do not think it would have been possible to have the vessel continue running much longer.”

As well as acknowledging Danielsen’s invaluable help, Casement was writing to Lord Lansdowne to explain that he had refused to accept any remuneration whatsoever and to ask his superior to authorise him to make a modest donation to the Congo Balolo Mission, for which Danielsen worked.

Brutal flogging, the cutting off of hands and the taking of women hostage for the good behaviour of their menfolk were some of the barbaric practices perpetrated upon exploited Congo natives that Casement heard about, witnessed the results of and wrote about in his report, which caused a sensation when it was published and proved to be a turning point in the campaign to put an end to such atrocities.

Danielsen took some shocking photographs while accompanying Casement. Óli Jacobsen argues that these were of great importance in the public campaign that followed in Britain, because it was the first time an account of an atrocity could be illustrated so clearly to the public. Danielsen afterwards used the photos in lantern-slide shows at public lectures he gave as he campaigned to end the barbarities being inflicted on innocent natives in the Belgian colony of the Congo Free State.

Daniel J Danielsen and the Congo: Missionary Campaigns and Atrocity Photographsis available from olijacobsen@olivant.fo

Welsh History Month: South Wales’ first ever gay pride march took place in Cardiff with marchers parading down Queen Street

Picture 83: These activists envisioned this march in Cardiff as a “coming out” for gay and lesbian activism in South Wales and an occasion to celebrate and affirm Wales’ sexually diverse and gender-blended

The Gay Pride march through the centre of Cardiff in 1985

Those who have recently seen the film Pride in the cinema will be familiar with images like this. No, it’s not a picture of the group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” marching in London, but it was taken in the mid-1980s.

Dating from 1985, this image, right, depicts South Wales’ first ever gay pride march. It took place in Cardiff with marchers parading down Queen Street to the bemusement of shoppers and pedestrians. According to the editorial piece accompanying the image, “many [onlookers] shook their heads in disbelief – others laughed and laughed away”.

The presence of policemen and placards in this picture may give the impression of a demonstration, but the theme of this march was pride, not protest.

Holding signs which read “Gay love is good love”and “sing if you’re glad to be gay”, these activists envisioned this march in Cardiff as a “coming out” for gay and lesbian activism in South Wales and an occasion to celebrate and affirm Wales’ sexually diverse and gender-blended society.

The gay rights movement has come a long way since 1985, and Wales’ population continues to be made up of individuals with differing sexual orientations. Nowhere is this diversity celebrated more openly than in Cardiff’s annual LGBT Mardi Gras festival, now Pride Cymru.

Established in 1999, Cardiff’s gay pride festival is held every summer in Cooper’s Field in Bute Park and is the largest event of its kind to take place in Wales. It’s serious and it’s loud, but it is primarily a celebration of diversity, with thousands of people (gay and non-gay) taking part each year.

Gay pride events such as this are not limited to the confines of Wales’ capital city, however. Similar events have been held and continue to be held in other towns and cities in the country such as Aberystwyth’s “Pride on the Prom”, Bangor’s North Wales Pride and Swansea Pride.

Wales has an interesting history of gay activism, one which stretches back further than the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Leo Abse (1917-2008), the Cardiff-born solicitor and Welsh Labour MP for Pontypool and Torfaen between 1958 and 1987, for instance, was an active gay rights campaigner and noted for promoting legislation to decriminalise male homosexual relations in the United Kingdom in the 1960s.

Cai Parry-Jones: “I am a Welsh-speaking Cardiff-born historian. I was awarded a doctorate in History from Bangor University in 2014 and I now work in academic publishing. I have a great interest in the histories and cultures of minority groups and I am currently in the process of turning my PhD thesis on the modern history of Jewish individuals and communities in Wales into a book.”

 

Republished from Wales Online

An Interview With Michael Denneny

The problem with writing for the LGBT community and being based in Northern Ireland is the limited access to the movers and the shakers within our community.  I would dearly love to have the finances and the time to rove around the world and interview a long list of people that I have been putting together, however as this is not likely to happen anytime soon (hic) then I am afraid that I will sometime have to resort to reposting articles which I believe are interesting for your the readers.

 

Outward
EXPANDING THE LGBTQ CONVERSATION
OCT. 27 2014 3:52 PM

The History of Gay Publishing in One Career: An Interview With Michael Denneny

denneny
Michael Denneny

Photo by Khary Simo, used with permission of LambdaLiterary.org

When I started in publishing more than 20 years ago, answering phone calls at a customer service desk, the only gay man in the industry whose name I knew was the renowned editor Michael Denneny. Most editors spend their career, however distinguished, unknown to the average person—sometimes even unknown to their fellow publishing colleagues. Michael was different, and so were his books. To be sure, there were other gay editors who published gay books, most notably Sasha Alyson, but as far as I could tell, only Michael and Sasha had done what I aspired to do back then: edit a line of quality gay titles.

The following conversation with Michael, conducted via email, underscores that gay literature doesn’t just “happen.” There are individuals behind it, so to speak, and it’s about more than writers and readers. 

Since book editors don’t typically grow up wanting to be editors—indeed, many have never taken an editing class or been formally trained—what led you to become a book editor?

In 1971, as a result of Stonewall, I moved to New York City, mainly to be gay. I didn’t have a job or an apartment or even a concrete plan, so the first few months were difficult: sleeping on friends’ couches, walking to job interviews because I didn’t have subway fare, watching my few dollars shrink. Among other things, I tried for publishing jobs since I’d worked half-time for two years at the University of Chicago Press. When a friend told me he was leaving his editing job at the old Macmillan publishing company to go to Paris and be a poet, we arranged it so that I came in for an interview a couple of hours after he handed in his resignation. On paper we looked like the same person (except that I did have some experience in publishing), and they hired me. It was an accident, really. I was just desperate for a job.

I thought it was a bit of a coup, since I skipped the usual step of first being an editorial assistant. But in retrospect that was a mistake. The wear and tear of the first few years, when I had to figure out what the job was while actually doing it, was enormous, and in retrospect, I don’t think it was worth it. I think the only way you really learn this job is by watching someone else do it for some time, like an apprentice, since it actually is a craft skill.

In the early ’70s at Macmillan everyone wore suits, white shirts, and ties and had two martinis at lunch. That wasn’t me. I had spent the ’60s at the University of Chicago being a hippy intellectual and a political activist. I thought the job would only last a few months, until they discovered who I really was. It amazes me in retrospect that I lasted 30 years. What happened was I got involved with a couple of books that really intrigued me and gradually realized that one might be able to do something interesting in publishing.

I’m curious about those suit and tie/two-martini days of publishing: What was it like being an openly gay man in that old school world?

It wasn’t exactly the case of “being an openly gay man.” In the early ’70s, in spite of the fact that there were quite a few gay men and lesbians working as editors, it was something never spoken about. I swore to myself I wouldn’t lie about it or try to hide it, but on the other hand I didn’t go out of my way to broadcast it, either.

I remember the first time I had to confront that decision. It was at the Christmas party my first year working there. In the ’70s, publishing companies had these really terrible Christmas parties where everyone got drunk out of their minds and all sorts of indiscreet things got said (and done). At one of these parties, the head of Macmillan’s warehouse and inventory control, a short, really feisty Puerto Rican lesbian whom I liked a lot, came up to me, clearly very drunk, and asked if I was bisexual. When I said, “No,” her face really fell, and she realized she’d gone a step too far, but then I added, “I’m gay” and she broke into this terrific smile. And she was one of my best allies in the company from then on.

I suppose I really came out to the whole company because of a book by Alan Ebert, the first gay book I ever published, called The Homosexuals: Who and What We Are. Great title, right? (Laughter.) I’d actually been fired over it when the CEO of the company, a man called Raymond C. Hagel, found out about the book as we were preparing for an upcoming sales conference in Phoenix. But after I was fired, every other editor, right up to the editor in chief, refused to present the book at sales conference, and since legal told the company they were obliged to publish it, they ended up hiring me back—really, just to present one book!

One of our New York sales reps who was a friend of mine had been reading the manuscript, I think in order to support me from the floor. And he had come to an interview in the book with a gay rabbi who, among other things, described fist fucking. And my friend didn’t believe there could be such a thing as a gay rabbi, or that fist fucking was physically possible. This was said at sales conference in front of everyone, and I’m standing on stage at the microphone in front of 250 people. It was one of those moments when you just wish the earth would open up and swallow you. I had a split second to make a decision, and I realized that the whole credibility of the book—as well as my own—depended on the answer.

I took a deep breath and said, “Chuck, you know that bar at the very western end of 14th Street [his territory was lower Manhattan], on the south side of the street in the triangular building? It’s a gay bar [it was the old Anvil] that, among other things, has sex acts performed on the bar. It’s a place I’ve been to a few times and I can assure you that it’s physically possible,” and I held up my right hand and with my left measured off about halfway up my forearm and said, “You can get it in about this far.” You could have heard a pin drop. “And as for the rabbi, I happen to know him socially, and I guarantee you he’s a real person.” So the cat was definitely out of the bag.

What else did you acquire and edit initially, and how long was it before you decided there was a market for LGBT lit?

That took a while—I was a bit dense, I guess. The first books that really hooked me on publishing were political. I might not have known much about editing or publishing, but politics was what I knew from the ’60s, and the earliest books I really got involved in were political.

I soon came to see that this could be an interesting job, and I started feeling my way into it. The most notable book I edited in the beginning was probably for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf. It was actually Ntozake Shange who raised the issue of gay books with me, saying, “You’re publishing all these women’s books and black books, how come you aren’t publishing more gay books?”

Which was a good question.

In New York City at the time, in the years following Stonewall, there were intense discussions going on among gay people as to whether or not there was such a thing as gay literature, or gay culture in general. I’d gotten involved with the Gay Activists Alliance, and in time we’d started our first gay magazine, OUT, in 1973, but it only lasted two issues before folding. During that period I’d gotten close to a young guy just out of grad school named Chuck Ortleb, and we continued that discussion—intensively!—for the next couple of years. These discussions with Chuck ended up convincing me there was such a thing as gay literature and, more importantly, that a change of consciousness, a change in our imaginations, had to be the first step in fighting for gay rights. The best way to do that was through a literary magazine. Electoral politics was not at all a promising avenue at the time. So we ended up founding Christopher Street in 1976, one of the first gay literary magazines—and that got me fired for good from Macmillan.

So I needed a job. By then I was a hot young editor, my books were getting a lot of attention, and, more importantly, making good money. I had, if memory is correct, 47 job interviews. (It’s hard to remember but in the mid-’70s there were something like 280 publishing houses in Manhattan. Today there are five, and a handful of small presses.) At each one I’d put a copy of Christopher Street on the table and say, “Look, I’m gay and publicly involved with this gay literary magazine, so if that gives you a problem, we should just forget about the job and enjoy lunch, since this is a very good restaurant and you’re paying for it.” (In those days they always took you to these incredibly fancy restaurants for the interview.) And they would say, “Oh no, no,” picking up the magazine and leafing through it, “how interesting … interesting.”

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And of the 47 interviews, I got exactly one call back, from a guy named Tom McCormack, who was running a small place called St. Martin’s Press in the Flatiron Building. Most of my publishing friends had never heard of St. Martin’s. I only knew it because they had published a couple of the earliest gay books (George Weinberg’s Society and the Healthy Homosexual, along with Roommates Can’t Always Be Lovers and Fire Island by Lige Clark and Jack Nichols). I ended up having five interviews with Tom, telling him that I was convinced there was a new market for gay fiction, and I wanted to try to publish to it—without a huge hullabaloo every time I tried to sign up a gay book. He agreed, and so I moved to St. Martin’s in 1977.

If I hadn’t run into Tom, I don’t think I ever would have had a career in publishing; it would have just been a five-year adventure in the business world.

Who, besides you, was openly gay and publishing gay titles in a mainstream house back then? I’m talking about gay men who’ve made a career publishing gay literature.

In corporate publishing? Nobody. We’re talking mainstream New York publishing here. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but in New York publishing there was no one who was out. Which is why it was such a big deal when I came out publicly. And there were no small gay presses at the time with the exception of Gay Sunshinemagazine, which put out a couple of gay books. Interestingly enough, there were already several lesbian/feminist presses; Daughters in Vermont and a couple of others. One of the things that motivated me was that I had several very close lesbian friends, and I saw that they had several presses, and a number of magazines, but by 1976, gay men had virtually nothing comparable, except The Advocate.

Of course, lesbians had the advantage of the Women’s Movement. The women’s presses were basically lesbian (in most of their personnel and an awful lot of what they published) but were presented to the world as feminist presses. That’s why at the time lesbian literature was way ahead of gay literature; they had an allied audience of straight women interested in the work of lesbians, which made publication of such books and magazines financially viable, if limited. But gay men had no such allies who could augment the audience for gay books, so there were no small gay presses. Sasha Alyson started Alyson Books some years later, and when he did, he came to me for advice.

What were the challenges for you as a gay book editor, beyond the expected homophobia? Were there gay writers with books lined up to be published now that there was a prominent outlet for their writing?

I think I made the same mistake at St. Martin’s that we initially made at Christopher Street. Knowing there was some samizdat gay literature going around (W.H. Auden’s “Ode to a Blow Job,” for instance, and other stuff), we assumed that gay writers had all this material in their bottom drawers because there was no outlet for publishing it, and it would come gushing in. But gay writers are no dummies; since there hadn’t been any outlets, most didn’t waste their time writing work that could never be published. This we discovered to our chagrin at Christopher Street, where we were always scrambling to fill up the new issue. Once Edmund White wrote, I think, four different articles under four different names to fill the issue at the last moment, although I think the title goes to Andrew Holleran, who once did five articles under five aliases. (Laughter.) If we’d known anything about magazine publishing, we would never have tried to start Christopher Street, which, mind you, lasted for over 20 years. When I went looking for gay books, the pickings were slim. There was Wallace Hamilton who had published a novel called Coming Out. He wrote a Biblical, historical novel for me about King David and Jonathan (David at Olivet), and Pete Fisher and Marc Rubin (old friends from the Gay Activist Alliance who had worked on OUTmagazine) wrote Special Teachers, Special Boys about a gay high-school teacher. Now you could say that this was ideological fiction, akin to the old socialist realism school of fiction. But you had to start somewhere. You had to show that gay books could be published if you wanted to encourage gay books to be written.

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Then there came along Ed White’s Nocturnes for the King of Naples. Ed’s first novel, Forgetting Elena, had been published by Random House and then in paperback by Penguin and had gotten rave reviews—and, in a comment endlessly repeated in publishing circles, Nabokov had declared Ed the best young American novelist (or something like that). So it was a scandal that he couldn’t find a single publisher willing to take on his second novel because it dealt with homoerotic love (although the beloved was safely dead and gone, which should have made it easier for straight people to deal with). So I published the novel in 1978, to rave reviews I might add. And quite decent sales for a literary book.

In fact, 1978 was a banner year for gay writing; it really marked the dawn of the new gay literary movement that would swell into a torrent over the next 15 or 20 years. Among the books published that year were Ed’s Nocturnes, Andrew Holleran’s Dancer From the Dance, Paul Monette’s Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll, Larry Kramer’s Faggots, and Felice Picano’s The Lure. After that we were off and running, and 10 years later enough gay books were being published that I could start a new paperback line, Stonewall Inn Editions, totally devoted to gay writing, both fiction and nonfiction.

And what was the impact of all this on gay writing, gay literature? What changes were seen as a result of the culture opening up more?

By the early ’80s there was this remarkable flowering of a new literary culture. And everybody everywhere was busy building the necessary infrastructure. When I started there were something like eight or nine gay bookstores; within a few years there were 45 of them, and my sales people loved those stores; they were among their best customers. People were creating new magazines, new local gay newspapers, which were a fabulous review outlet for these gay books. I could get 20 or 30 reviews for a first gay novel and a bunch of author interviews, whereas publishing a first novel by a straight person you might gather four or five reviews—if you were lucky. National gay literary conferences, like Outwrite, were started, and all sorts of new organizations. David Groff and me, along with others, founded the Publishing Triangle, a professional networking organization for gays and lesbians working in book publishing.

Before the threat of AIDS started darkening our horizon, there really was a halcyon moment that people today forget. It was morning in gay America, for sure.

You can get some sense of that time if you look at the fiction Christopher Streetpublished during those years. The magazine introduced writers like Robert Ferro, John Fox, Brad Gooch, Andrew Holleran, David Leavitt, Ethan Mordden, David Plante, Felice Picano, Christopher Bram, and, of course, Edmund White.

The point is, there was this huge social movement going on; gay people were emerging everywhere and organizing into coherent communities, into neighborhoods, into professional associations, religious associations, athletic associations. There was a cultural revolution going on, and the emergence of the new gay writing was an exuberant manifestation of that.

But I think this historical moment, say 1977 to ’83, has been so overshadowed by the catastrophe of AIDS as to be nearly forgotten. It needs a name, a label, something better than borrowing “morning in gay America” from President Reagan. But this is why I think if you were considering the history of gay writing, you’d have to break it into two periods here: the dawn, the new beginning, post-Stonewall/pre-AIDS, and then the writing that arose as a response to the great disaster of AIDS.

So what did the landscape look like, then, in the first years of the epidemic? And how did AIDS transform the new writing you mention earlier, the gay writing of the late ’70s and early ’80s?

The first public notice of this new disease appeared in Christopher Street’s sister publication, the New York Native, two or three weeks before the first report by the CDC, which was then picked up by the New York Times, in a little article on Page 18, I think. And the Native continued to have the best medical as well as political coverage of the new disease for the first five or so years of the epidemic. Chuck Ortleb should be proud of that, I am for him.

By 1983, it had become utterly clear: AIDS was a catastrophe, an epidemic, an event unleashed like a hurricane, and this event threatened our very existence. AIDS seemed so unbelievable at first; it looked like a metaphor for the homophobia of the whole society—but reality isn’t supposed to come prepackaged in metaphors, I kept muttering. Larry Kramer’s great 1983 essay, “1,112 and Counting,” ended all that for me and I think for an awful lot of gay men across the country. (After being published in the Native, that essay was reprinted in virtually every gay newspaper and magazine in America, one of the most successful pieces of political rhetoric ever seen.) After two years of confusion, denial, evasions, fear, and growing panic, we realized that AIDS was going to be the major event of our time; that it threatened our continued existence, not only as individual gay men but as a community, as a culture, and that we had to mobilize every resource within our power against it,”

And in that moment of crisis, it was the gay writers who, disproportionately, led the way—who sounded the alarm, who told the stories of what was happening, who tried to repeat in the imagination the desperate lives we found ourselves living. And I think this is a very unusual event in the history of writing. Writers have a spotty history in terms of political involvement, if they get seriously involved at all. But, for once, a community’s writers turned all their energies, their resources, their talents, their work, toward a political end, mobilizing the community against an ultimate threat. We can’t go into it in detail here, of course, but I think the gay writers of the ’80s rose magnificently to the challenge history had presented us with. To my mind, it made a whole generation of writers heroic and raised some of the most elemental questions about the nature and value of writing that I’ve ever encountered in my career.

And again, to my astonishment, I think this whole remarkable episode has been forgotten, has slipped under the waters in our historical wake. I mean, a few academic books have been published about this AIDS literature, but mostly it seems to be forgotten, as we’ve waded further into the “post-AIDS” moment, which you can probably date from 1996, the year they discovered combination therapies, the year it went from being an epidemic to being a so-called manageable condition.

So maybe both these episodes of gay history, of gay writing, will be forgotten. Or maybe it will be like the Harlem Renaissance, whose writers seemed to disappear in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, only to be unearthed again. We’ll see.

 So where do you think gay writing is going now?

Lord only knows! Let me tell you about the last two gay books I published, just before losing my perch in corporate publishing for good. This was 2002 and I thought they reflected where we were at the time as a community. There was An American Family, by Michael and Jon Galluccio (with David Groff), two gay men in New Jersey who became foster parents and fought, successfully, for the legal right to adopt their child, and later for marriage equality. And there was David Nimmons’ The Soul Beneath the Skin: The Unseen Hearts and Habits of Gay Men, which brilliantly marshals evidence of the social sciences to argue that gay men have since Stonewall created new and valuable forms of community, relationships, and masculinity. One book asks us to assimilate into the dominant culture; the other wants to change it radically (the liberationists).

As anyone can plainly see, the assimilationist wave has been dominant for the last decade, balancing the first decade (the ’70s) dominated by the liberationists—the middle two decades essentially devoted to the fight against AIDS. I suspect these two poles of the culture will always be with us. Which is the right strategy depends on the historical moment. We’ll see what emerges.

And for you personally, what came after corporate publishing?

A surprisingly soft landing. Besides giving me a plethora of business and literary adventures, which I really enjoyed, 30 years of this work had given me the opportunity to thoroughly develop and hone a craft skill.

And that is what manuscript editing is: what the academics call a praxis, an art. And craft skills can only be developed by actual practice, preferably a couple of decades’ worth. Malcolm Gladwell has calculated in one of his essays that mastering a skill—violin playing, tennis—takes approximately 10,000 hours of actual hard practice. Which seemed about right to me—that would be, say, 20 years as a working editor.

And, given how corporate publishing has evolved, there is a great need for freelance manuscript editing today, as so much more of it is being done outside of publishing houses. So I get to keep doing what I always loved best, working with writers and their manuscripts. And get paid for it. What’s not to like?

This article is reprinted with permission from Lambda Literary Foundation and LambdaLiterary.org, where it originally appeared. The Lambda Literary Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting LGBT literature.

Donald Weise has 20 years of publishing experience, the majority of which has been devoted to LGBTQ literature. He served as publisher of Alyson Books and senior editor at Carroll & Graf Publishers and is currently the founder/publisher of Magnus Books.