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50 Years Ago: ONE Magazine Wins Gay Rights

Today - January 13th - marked the 50th anniversary of the first ever pro-gay U.S. Supreme Court ruling in ONE Inc. v. Olesen. ONE magazine, launched in 1953, was the very first mailed publication for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the United States and served a crucial role for the LGBT community in what would have been very dark times.

The magazine was stylish and professional and the editorial content was adamantly unapologetic. In April 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 which barred gays and lesbians from federal employment with its “sexual perversion” clause. The FBI tried shutting down the magazine by calling the employers of the publishers and trying to get hem fired but soon lost interest. Then the Los Angeles and Washington post offices tried holding up the publication on grounds of "indecency." The clip below is from the October issue....

Your August issue is late because the postal authorities in Washington and Los Angeles had it under a microscope. They studied it carefully from the 2nd until the 18th of September and finally decided that there was nothing obscene, lewd or lascivious in it. They allowed it to continue on its way. We have been found suitable for mailing.

…But one point must be made very clear. ONE is not grateful. ONE thanks no one for this reluctant acceptance. It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough.

I can't believe that somebody was writing content like this so many years before Stonewall. I might be hard pressed to find gays and lesbians that would write so unapologetically today.

So to those early activists and pioneers for Gay Rights I salute you. Thanks for fighting the unpopular fight far before the world was ready to hear you.