Must See: The One Archives in LA
By Andrew Belonsky
Long before Crew and Hombre and Drum were helping men keep their own beat, the gay magazine scene was all about One. A literary magazine dedicated to championing gay and lesbian rights, One magazine became its own cause: a warrior in the fight against government censorship.
From 1954-1958, the magazine and its editorial leaders—including now legendary figures Martin Block, Don Slater, and W. Dorr Legg—challenged charges of obscenity, took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and won the right to send their magazine through the mail. This was a huge advancement for a burgeoning but far-flung movement.
During this era, a time of strict anti-gay laws, One magazine grew beyond paper and staples and became a full-fledged rights organization, One Inc, and through classes and conferences on positive gay thinking, One Inc formed the nucleus of the early homophile campaign.
Things went fairly well until 1965, when internal factions tore the magazine apart. The magazine would eventually fold in 1967, two years shy of Stonewall. One didn't even get to go to its own party.
Though One is no longer in print, its legacy lives on not only in the mere existence of magazines like Out and in the real world gay wins it directly and indirectly effected, but as a massive, must-see archive at the University of Southern California. Thousands upon thousands of documents, posters, pictures, audio, and video are gathered there, providing a timeline not just of One, but of the community as a whole.
If you live in Los Angeles, you have no excuse to not see it. Fire Island in the 1950s, L.A. gay rights protests of the 1970s, ACT-UP actions from the 1980s: they and so many other key events are collected under one roof, giving visitors the most complete history of LGBT people possible. If you're visiting Los Angeles, make sure to carve out a few hours to explore the One Archives. You won't be disappointed.
We've collected but a sampling of L.A.-centric images from their online archive, including images from a 1977 protest against anti-gay activist Anita Bryant, a picture of influential gay reverend Troy Perry, founder of the inclusive Metropolitan Community Church, preaching at One Inc's office in 1969, and photos from early gay pride marches in Los Angeles. They're priceless Kodak moments that have to be seen to be believed.