OutHistory Chronicles the Voice’s “Contemptuous Attitude Toward the Gay Community” (in 1969)


Pride Week, already? We have to thank the Times for pointing out the OutHistory site and its latest historical findings on the Stonewall Riot — including the first confirmed name of a female arrested in the fracas (Marilyn Fowler), and a record of a Stonewall biting (“Biting has not earlier been documented as a Stonewall resistance tactic”).

OutHistory also offers a photo record of Christopher Street life in the 70s and 80s as documented by Suzanne Poli, including prototypical Pride marching, and pdfs of the seminal Gay Lib magazine Come Out, including an attack on the Village Voice for censoring ads:

“…the person who placed the ad received a call from VV which explained that it was the policy of VV to refrain from printing obscure words in classfieds and VV thought ‘Gay’ was obscene…

The Gay Liberation Front demanded some respect, and a 1969 meeting with management is described thus:

“At this point (Voice writer) Howard Smith emerged from the door of the Village Voice (to boos from the crowd) and requested three representatives from GLF to “meet with Mr. Fancher”. Once inside and upstairs, the representatives encountered a cry of outrage that GLF has chosen the Village Voice as a target (sooo liberal we are). The suggestion was made that we negotiate the three points in dispute 1) changing classified ads without knowledge or consent of purchaser, 2) use of the words “Gay” and “homosexual” in classifieds, and 3) the contemptuous attitude of the Village Voice toward the Gay Community. GLF explained that the two issues involving classified ad policy were not negotiable and that the substance of the paper should be of legitimate concern to a responsible publisher. (Voice co-founder) Ed Fancher replied that the Village Voice exercised no censorship of its articles, and that if a writer wanted to say derogatory things about faggots, he could not in good conscience stop him. Fancher also said that we had no right to tamper with ‘freedom of the press.’

“This GLF accepted with the absolute understanding that Gay Power has the right to return and oppose anything the Village Voice staff chooses to include in the paper. On the Classified Ads policy he conceded completely. He said that not only would the Voice not alter Ads after payment, but that in Classified Ads the words “Gay” and “homosexual” per se were no longer issues. One of the GLF representatives in the upstairs office stepped to the window facing Seventh Avenue and flashed the V for Victory sign to the waiting crowd below. WE HAD WON!”

Sorry about that, folks. We’re still trying to make it up to you.