Nation’s First Mail-Out Gay Magazine, ONE, Debuted 50 Years Ago

Box Turtle Bulletin takes a look back at ONE, the nation’s first gay magazine to be shipped through the U.S. mail. ONE was founded by the early gay rights group the Mattachine Society of Los Angeles and had an early subscriber base of around 2,000 people:

One“By today’s standards, an early edition of ONE might look rather tame. There were no racy pictures, and even its fiction was mostly limited to depictions of longing and desire. There was rarely any evidence of physical contact in its pages. But what the magazine lacked in raciness, it made up for in audacity. ONE’s editorial tone was bold and unapologetic, covering politics, civil rights, legal issues, police harassment (which was particularly harsh in ONE’s home city of Los Angeles), employment and familial problems, and other social, philosophical, historical and psychological topics. And most importantly, ONE quickly became a voice for thousands of silent gays and lesbians across the U.S., many of whom wrote letters of deep gratitude to ONE’s editors. But in a sign of those times, all letters to the editor were published anonymously — from “m” in Winston-Salem, North Carolina or from “f” in Beaumont, Texas. ONE filled a very critical role for gays and lesbians during a very dark time…”

ONE debuted in 1953, it wasn’t sent out by mail until 1958, following the Supreme Court’s pro-gay ruling on “ONE Inc. v. Olesen, a landmark decision that allowed a magazine for gays and lesbians to be sent through the U.S. mail.”

Today In History: A Spunky ONE And The U.S. Post Office [box turtle bulletin]


  1. Derrick from Philly says

    Very interesting and important piece of gay history. Also, a reminder: the concept of gay involves more than just your sex life. Gay culture is politically liberal. These conservative homosexuals who call themselves “gay” are usurpers. They came along in the 1ast 30 years and fucked up much of the liberalism involved in being gay in the 1960s/early 70s. You know the type, they want all gay guys to be respectable (whom the fuck to, I don’t know) and traditionally masculine. THat’s why some of us can’t stand each other today. We aint “family” no more.

  2. Paul says

    Wow, interesting to learn that the Supreme Court issued a pro-gay (or at least pro-First Amendment) ruling 50 years ago—and that the ACLU was still defending sodomy laws at the time!

  3. says

    The ACLU didn’t defend sodomy laws. Their policy at the time: “It is not within the province of the Union to evaluate the social validity of laws aimed at the suppression or elimination of homosexuals.”

    Basically, “not our job.” That’s very different from “defending” sodomy laws.

  4. Matt says

    Cool! Thanks for the story, Towle Rd — I never knew this mag existed. And if I hadn’t seen your story I wouldn’t have gone to the site and found out about a homeless gay-bashing victim named Daniel Fetty, who was dehumanized by straight thugs in Waverly OH in October 2004. That led me to the LGBT Hatecrimes site, and then on to The National Homeless coalition website:

  5. jmg says

    Sorry, Derrick, but traditionally masculine gay men have always existed, and although they certainly do owe the queens a lot of respect for the changes which they [the queens, that is] helped to effect in the history of the gay movement, you can’t really blame them for their own personas. You can’t fight for universal acceptance for ALL gays and then lament the attitudes of some of them with whom you disagree. It’s what comes with more acceptance. It is an insult to conservative gays to deny them the gay title. Are you one of the ones who thinks Condoleeza Rice is not really black?

  6. David R. says

    JMG: I think you are mis-reading our friend and fabulous friend Derrick. He’s arguing against the push to homogenize “correct” gaydom. I don’t think he has a problem with any one “type” or another, just as long as their not fascist. I personally enjoy and appreciate that there are folks on Towle Road of many stripes.

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