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    ComeOut!, 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 the ComeOut! 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 here.
    I can still remember proofreading the typeset copy with 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. ComeOut! 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 ComeOut!, 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 Lauritsen).
    Art: Bob Fontanella, Barbara Payne, Rob Cobuzio, Suzanne Bevier, and Robben Borrero.
    Research: Kay Tobin, Richard Farrell, and Mark Erickson.
    Business: Mike Boyle, Jack Openhym, Dan Smith, and Lois Hart.
    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 my 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 here.

    • 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 here.

    • 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. Click here.

    • 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 here.

    • Page 14. Letters written to the Gay Liberation Front. Click here.

    • Page 15. Two short pieces: “Sexuality in the American Male” by Bob Fontanella and “Community Center” by Lois Hart. Click here.

    • 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.

I write books and am proprietor of Pagan Press, a small book publisher.   Please check out the Pagan Press BOOKLIST  — John Lauritsen

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