Langdon Manor Books has issued their Catalog 12: LBGTQ+. Most of the items fit within the “L” and “G” initials, but the others are represented, even the “+”. There are many publications in this collection, newsletters, pamphlets, newspapers and magazines that are often rather rough in terms of printing and paper quality. These are mostly related to gay culture, and are heavily concentrated in the 1960s-1970s. That was the period when gay culture was finally sufficiently confident to emerge from the underground. These newsletters shot up all over the country, though California was the leader in opening the door, followed by New York. Most were short-lived. Profitable publishing in any field is an elusive goal. It is even harder when much of your audience is still afraid to come out. A few of these publications did survive for longer periods of time, even still today. Other items to be found here include personal records, photographs, scrapbooks and such. These are a few items from this selection.
Many people think of Stonewall as being the first time gays stood up for their rights against police harassment but there were earlier incidents. One particularly notable one took place two years earlier at the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles. On New Years Eve, 1966-67, police raided the Black Cat, which catered to a gay clientele. There was some beating on patrons and arrests for men kissing, some sort of morals crime at the time. California has changed since then, and for the better. Item 106 is the February, 1967 issue of Concern, edited by James Kepner, Jr. He wrote, “we've spent several tense days in court while six vice squad officers worked to convince a jury...that seven of the defendants had exchanged kisses at midnight.” The defendants raised the issue of violence inflicted on them by the police, but the court said this was irrelevant and limited the testimony to whether there had been kissing. Kepner then wrote that there would be a protest rally “against arbitrary arrests, against illegal search and seizure, against police perjury in the courts, against abuse of our rights and dignity.” He then continued, “we will see who is willing to stand up for his rights, and who is still willing to be shoved and beaten and insulted.” Around 200 people did stand up, attending the rally, though six of the defendants were convicted. It was a start. Priced at $200.
Things were turning in California by 1978, though it took a lot of persuasion. In California, citizens who gather enough signatures can put a proposition on the ballot. Such was Proposition 6, better known as the Briggs Initiative, promoted by state senator John Briggs. It would have removed all teachers and other school employees from their positions if they publicly engaged in or advocated homosexual behavior. In the atmosphere of the time, early polls indicated it would pass by a margin of 2-1. However, an active campaign by those opposed to it, including a diverse list of opponents from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, changed people's hearts and minds. By election day, the tables turned and the initiative was defeated by over one million votes. Item 54 is a flyer published by the Bay Area Committee Against the Briggs Initiative, announcing March and Rally to Defeat the Briggs Initiative Sunday June 25 (1978). It displayed a photograph of a large crowd of people captioned “The Annual Gay Freedom Day June 1977.” $100.
There were changing attitudes about gays and lesbians in California in 1978, but in the South? It is not a region known for progressive ideas or tolerance of minorities. Still, there were places welcoming to gays in the South even if the overall environment was hostile. A guide to these welcoming establishments circa 1978 can be found in Cruise Book of Maps. An Authoritative and Up-to-Date Guide with Accompanying Maps to Gay Establishments Throughout the South and Adjoining Areas. It covered 18 states from the Deep South to the border states. The compilers explained, “while the listings do not include every gay establishment in every city within this area, all of those listed have been visited personally by our staff, have indicated they do wish to be listed as welcoming gays . . . and are recommended.” It contains 330 listings, including places for food, music, and adult books. Item 15. $2,000.
Next is “the only publication that is actively campaigning for your right to dress as you see fit,” or so it claimed. These weren't people who preferred unpopular fashions. It was for cross-dressers, not men who were gay but men who liked to dress as women. Most live typical male lives and are often married, but enjoy spending leisure time dressed as a woman. Item 95 is a copy of New Trenns Magazine from 1970. It contains articles and opinions from those in the cross-dressing community, this issue featuring a step-by-step guide to creating a realistic breast prostheses. $350.
I'm not sure what category of person this applies to, so I will put it in the “+” group. It is a Monthly, from Eve Browne Fashions in 1975. It offered books and magazines, rubber and latex, a replica of a 12th century chastity belt, and around 20 personal ads. For example, Monique Van Cleef, formerly of the U.S. but now in The Hague Netherlands, offers “private and group lessons in obedience.” No, she was not a dog trainer. She claimed to have a large collection of rubber, leather, corsets, boots and an exquisite boudoir for TV's!!!” Those were not accessories for your television. Better yet, “She will give RN treatment with a full gallon enema. Golden showers and slave girls available are a possibility along with a full weekend together.” So, what did you do last weekend? Item 69 (of course). $350.
You think that's weird? This one is even weirder. It is two issues from 1974 of NS Kampfruf Official Publication of the National Socialist League. “Kampfruf” means battle cry. National Socialists are better known as Nazis, with the National Socialists League being an organization of gay Nazis. Excuse me? This was not just a discriminated against minority siding with an intolerant group. These were gays who were siding with a party who arrested and imprisoned tens of thousands of gays in Germany, and sent thousands to their deaths in concentration camps because of their orientation. They actually had chapters in several cities during the 1970s and 1980s. They were not popular with much of anyone. Despite their advocacy of gay rights they were condemned by other gay groups, while despite their support of Nazi causes, they were despised by other Nazi and white supremacist organizations. If ever there was a group that could be described as “self-loathing,” this surely must have been it. Item 111. $750.