14 November 1969, was the first publication of the Gay Liberation
Movement — not the first gay publication, by any means, but the
first that belonged to the post-Stonewall movement.
The guiding light of this first issue was Roslyn
Bramms, who had been Managing Editor of Screw.
With patience and enthusiasm she taught us what we needed to know,
including news gathering, copy preparation, legal matters, and
production. Roz assigned me to be top editor under her and to be
on the production team. Between the two of us we edited the articles;
some needed a lot of editorial help, whereas others (like Leo
Martello's) needed almost none.
On a fine autumn day, members of
staff gathered together by the Morton Street pier so that
Roslyn Bramms could photograph us for a logo she had in mind. She had
us down on our knees, spread out in a line, and told us to pretend we
were doing the crawl stroke. We all look happy and a little silly,
except for me — I have no head (see below).
I had recently learned to use a single-reflex
camera, so I took some photos of my own, which turned out rather well.
To see my photos of the ComeOut! staff click
I can still remember proofreading the typeset copy
Martha Shelley the day before layout. Martha worked as a typographer,
using the IBM Selectric Composer system, which was then
state-of-the-art. Her boss, a lesbian, agreed that she could use the
equipment after working hours — and so, the two of us worked from
early evening until dawn the next day. She typed and I proofed.
Although Martha and I later became political opponents, I remember her
here as a topnotch typesetter and a good worker.
At the next meeting of the Gay
Liberation Front (GLF) following publication of this issue, members of
the “June 28 cell” announced that
they had taken over ComeOut! —
allegedly in order to rescue it.
staff were strongly opposed to the move, but we were caught
off guard. Marty Robinson called the act outright theft, and was so
furious that he had to be physically restrained by his friends.
Unfortunately, at this point GLF had no structure, and voting was
prohibited (everything had to be by “consensus”), so we
were unable to thwart the expropriators. This unpleasant episode was
one of the most important reasons that Marty Robinson, Jim Owles and
Arthur Evans later split from GLF, in order to found the more orderly
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). At any rate, new people took over
and I and most of the original staff members were out in the
cold. For Leo Martello's opinion on the takeover of ComeOut! click here. For Ralph Hall's opinion on the
takeover click here.
Below are the pages of the first issue of ComeOut!.
Be warned, if you have only a dialup connection, these files are rather
large. I experimented, but found that at any lower resolution the text
was almost unreadable. A few pages are slightly too wide for the
screen, but this also could not be helped — if the image widths
are reduced more, the text suffers.
• Front Cover.
This has a one-time logo, with ComeOut!
contributors photographed by Roslyn Bramms. We were all in high
spirits, pretending that we were doing the crawl stroke. My upraised arm is at
the far left, but I have no head! — Lois Hart cut it off with an
X-acto knife just before the layouts went to the printer. The text
consists of a manifesto: “COME OUT FOR FREEDOM! COME OUT NOW!
POWER TO THE PEOPLE! GAY POWER TO GAY PEOPLE! ...”. Click here.
• Page 2.
The top half is a drawing by Lois's lover, Suzanne Bevier. The bottom
half lists the ComeOut! contributors:
Feature articles: “John Lawritz” (John
Lauritsen), Marty Stephan, “Martha Shelley” (Martha
Altman), Leo Martello, Lois Hart, and Earl Galvin.
News: Mike Brown, Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.
Poetry & Fiction: Dan Smith and Mike Boyle.
Interviews: Nova, Mark Giles, Mike Boyle.
Production: “Martha Shelley” (Martha
Altman), Mike Brown, Mark Giles, and “John Lawritz” (John
Art: Bob Fontanella, Barbara Payne, Rob Cobuzio,
Suzanne Bevier, and Robben Borrero.
Research: Kay Tobin, Richard Farrell, and Mark
Business: Mike Boyle, Jack Openhym, Dan Smith, and
Legal: Cohen & Cooper.
Editorial Consultant: Roslyn Bramms.
I am listed by a pseudonym, “John
Lawritz”, because I was afraid, with good reason, to use my real
name. Since “coming out” was at the heart of Lois's concept
of liberation, she went into a rage, and later surreptitiously cut off
head. “Martha Shelley” was also a pseudonym, but Lois
didn't care about that. Click here.
• Page 3.
Full-page article, “Joel Fabricant Perverts Gay Power”. The
author requested anonymity. Some were opposed to this article, but the
majority of ComeOut!
staff voted to include it. Click
• Page 4.
This page is rather confusing. The left column reports on a GLF
“zap” of New York City mayoral candidates, John Marchi and
Mario Procaccino, and this article continues on the left column of page
5. (The zap later became a prominent tactic of the Gay Activists
Alliance.) The right column, by Ronald Ballard and Bob Fontanella, is a
radical critique of electoral politics in general and the GLF zap in
particular; it argues that the zap amounted to back-handed support for
the liberal candidate, John Lindsay. Click here.
• Page 5.
The left column continues the zap report from page 4. The two right
columns, “The October Rebellion” by “The Gay
Commandos” (Marty Robinson and Jim Owles, who would soon split
from GLF to found the Gay Activists Alliance), is also about the zap of
NYC mayoral candidates. Illustration by Barbara Payne. Click here.
• Page 6.
Poems by Martha Shelley, Ron Ballard, Michael F. Boyle, and Daniel H.
Smith, with uncredited illustrations. Click here.
• Page 7. A full-page article,
“Stepin Fetchit Woman”, by Martha Shelley. Click here.
• Page 8.
This and page 9 are a centerspread collage. The “artists”
took dozens of photographs, given them by serious photographers
(including myself), and cut them into little pieces, which they
haphazardly stuck on the layout sheets. To appreciate this work of art
(or vandalism) — Click here.
• Page 9.
The right-hand page of the collage described above. Click
• Page 10.
The lead article, “The Summer of Gay Power and the Village Voice
Exposed”, by Mike Brown, “Michael Tallman” (John
Lauritsen), and Leo Louis Martello. I was confused when I saw the final
copy for this article, and asked Mike Brown who “Michael
Tallman” was. He replied, “It's you!”. Mike knew that
I was unwilling to use my real name, so he gave me a pseudonym based on
my being taller than himself (I am 6 feet tall; Mike was a couple of
inches shorter.) Actually, Mike and Leo were the two main authors
of this piece; my role was more that of typist and conciliator. I took
three of the photographs, which were cropped brutally. Click here.
• Page 11.
Continuation of the lead article. Click here.
• Page 12.
Full-page article, “Bitch: Summer's Not Forever”, by Marty
Stephan. This article caught me off guard when I first read it in the
course of editing, and I burst into tears. I still find it very moving.
• Page 13.
Full-page article, “Christopher Marlowe”, written by me,
John Lauritsen, though there is no byline. Christopher Marlowe has been
my favorite English poet and playwright ever since I first studied him,
in my sophomore tutorial-seminar at Harvard. Click
• Page 14.
Letters written to the Gay Liberation Front. Click
• Page 15.
Two short pieces: “Sexuality in the American Male” by Bob
Fontanella and “Community Center” by Lois Hart. Click
• Page 16.
A full-page article, “A Positive Image for the Homosexual”,
by Leo Louis Martello. Leo was a practising witch, the author of
several books, and a libertarian influenced by Ayn Rand. I like this
article very much, my only objection being to his use of
“homosexual” as a noun. Although Leo's politics and mine
were very different at the time, we were always good friends. Click here.