10 Lessons Learned From 60s-Era Gay Skin Mags

7.3.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

Who says porn is just empty calories?

5. TOM WASN'T ALONE: Tom of Finland remains the most famous of the gay erotica illustators, but there were plenty of others. Before he founded Colt Studios, Jim French and a mystery man called Arion, perhaps a pseudonym for French himself, ran The Luger Studio, from which they illustrated and published illustrated pin-ups of the burgeoning gay stereotypes. Also, Kris Studios, seen in this issue of Brutes in Boots from May of 1967, also spillled a lot of ink for male-on-male fantasies.

6. INJUSTICE LOITERS: With momentum for ENDA/Freedom to Work growing, let's not forget past battles over employment discrimination.

In 1956, one year before Army astronomer Frank Kameny turned his gay-related firing into national news, a man named Bruce Scott was dismissed from the Labor Department on suspicion of being homosexual born from a "loitering" arrest and "undisclosed information that you are homosexual."

A few years later, Scott reapplied for his old job and was rejected because of the whole gay thing. With his eyes opened to discrimination, and with Kameny and the Mattachine Society as guides, Scott filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor and in 1965, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned his rejection. Still, the Civil Service Commission refused to employ Scott. So, he sued again. And again he won. That decision ordered the government to restore "[the] appellant to the status of one eligible to be considered for federal employment." Not only could the government not prove Scott was gay, a key part of their hateful argument, but the Court said, "Federal applicants for employment do not, wholly apart from Fifth Amendment concerns, forfeit all rights of privacy accorded to persons generally by the First Amendment..." This was the first time a gay man had won such a suit.

(One of the members of Crew.)

It wasn't until 1998 that President Clinton signed an executive order protecting gay and lesbian federal employees from on-the-job discrimination, and it took another 12 years before President Obama extended that order to transgender federal employees. There are still no protections for civilian employees.

I know all of this because it's discussed at length in a 1965 edition of Tiger magazine. Looking into it even further, I was reminded by Federal Globe, a site about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees of the Federal Government, that on June 30, 1865, before Scott v. Macy and Frank Kameny, Secretary of the Interior James Harla fired Walt Whitman from the New York as a Clerk in the Indian Office because of homo imagery in Whitman's 1855 collection Leaves of Grass. The gay imagery in those poems would be used against Whitman's ghost 100 years later, during a debate over the name of a Delaware River bridge.

This is the rabbit hole 60s-era porn led me down?!

Tags: Art & Books
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