Gay journalism launched gay-lib In ’69, not the Stonewall Riots in NYC

Every summer, Gay and Lesbian communities nationwide celebrate Gay Pride, usually in commemoration of the infamous Stonewall riots of ’69 in New York.

By, Gay Lib didn’t grow out of those riots. That’s a myth.

Rather, the now world-wide movement was launched by gay

journalism in the San Francisco Bay Area months earlier.

Unfortunately, even our current, national gay journalism organizations, like the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, ignore that connection.

Stonewall was simply a large street fight between Gays – including drag queens and high school students from New Jersey – and the police. It had no planned civil rights connection.

Three months earlier, however, the Committee for Homosexual Freedom (CHF) was launched to fight for gay civil rights in San Francisco; and more specifically, employment rights.

Today, we have the Unruh Civil Rights Act in California (Civil Code §51) which forbids discrimination by any business on the basis of sexual orientation. But, back in ’69, that law didn’t exist.

So, risking everything in their lives, a band of young gay man formed the CHF after co-founder Gale Whittington was fired from the States Steamship Lines in San Francisco’s famous financial district for being Gay.

At the time, I was a reporter/editor/producer for ABC/KGO Radio in San Francisco by day and covered the Gay Community for the Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper, by night.

That weekly coverage exposed the hell of living in the closeted, gay world and urged homosexuals to join the civil rights revolution led by the black community. Gay Lib grew out of the black civil rights movement.

Indeed, the Black Panther Party was one of the earliest supporters of gay militants.

That coverage launched Gay Lib – before Stonewall.

Unfortunately, gay history books and our current gay journalism organizations (e.g., NLGJA) ignore the connection between gay journalism and the launch of Gay Lib.

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit


Newest Posts

Dealing with rejection October 21, 2014, 3:42 am
Region 7 Career Connection, 10.20.14 October 21, 2014, 1:25 am
Three alt weeklies bow out in one week October 21, 2014, 1:05 am
Ebola in America October 20, 2014, 2:20 pm
#ILoveMyJob, Even if ‘Journalist’ Isn’t In the Title October 20, 2014, 1:00 pm
Beating the system? October 19, 2014, 6:15 pm
Sept/Oct: Journo Job & Internship Openings for All! October 17, 2014, 7:42 pm

Copyright © 2007-2014 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ