Gay and Lesbian Magazine Covers

Gay and Lesbian Magazine Covers This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first gay pride march, held on June 28, 1970, in New York City. Originally called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, it was held on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. In honor of this anniversary, we've collected a series of magazine covers featuring personalities, historical events, and publications of significance in gay and lesbian history and culture. There are 11 pictured here; see more, along with an updated cover every day during the month of June, here.

This series is co-produced by Dale Yarger, Linda Rubes, and Robert Newman.

(Above): The New Yorker, July 12, 1930. Cover illustration by Constantin Alajalov.

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(Left): After Dark, March 1972. (Right): Christopher Street, July 1977.

After Dark was a legendary 70s entertainment magazine that covered theater, dance, music, and art. Although not an overtly gay magazine, After Dark covered stories of interest to the gay community, carried ads for gay movies, bathhouses, clubs, books, etc., and had a liberal amount of beefcake and male nudity. Actor Nicky Cortland, on the cover, died of AIDS in New York City in 1988 at the age of 47. See a collection of After Dark covers hereChristopher Street  was a monthly magazine published in New York City for a national audience. It was founded in 1976 and ceased operations in 1995. In the 70s and 80s it was one of the leading national gay magazines, and the first to use slick contemporary graphics and design. Christopher Street nurtured several generations of gay writers through its regular publishing of fiction, essays, reviews, as well as outstanding art and photography. See a collection of Christopher Street covers here.

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(Left): Physique Pictorial, late 1950s. Cover illustration by Tom of Finland(Right): Evergreen, August 1970. Photograph of Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg by Richard Avedon.

In the 1950s, gay men had to buy softcore porn magazines under the guise of health, art, body-building or nudism. Physique Pictorial was one of the first to portray much more overt gay sexuality. See a collection of vintage gay beefcake magazines here. You can find an amazing and extensive collection of vintage beefcake photography for sale (and viewing) here. Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky were life-long partners. 

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(Left): Vanity Fair, August 1993. Photograph of Cindy Crawford and k.d. lang by Herb Ritts.  (Right): Male Pix, 1959.

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(Left): The Advocate, March 5, 1996, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. (Right): One, August 1953.

Texan Barbara Jordan was the first African-American congresswoman from the South, serving in the House of Representatives from 1973-79. Jordan never came out publicly about her sexuality, but soon after her death, The Advocate, "The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine," published a story about her lesbianism and her longtime companion, with whom she shared a home. One was published by an early gay rights organization in Los Angeles from 1953-67. This issue was held up by the post office for three weeks because they thought it violate federal laws. It was eventually released, but in October 1954 another issue was seized. One sued the post office, and the case eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. On January 13, 1958, the Supreme Court delivered its first-ever pro-gay ruling, overruling the ban on the magazine and allowing it to be mailed without problems.

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(Left): The Ladder, October 1957. (Right): Dik Fagazine, March 2005.

The Ladder was the first nationally-distributed lesbian magazine in the US. It was published from 1956-72 by the Daughters of Bilitis. In the early days of its publication the editors and writers had to use false names to avoid loss of their jobs and possible arrest. Published in Poland in Polish and English, Dik Fagazine is "the first and only artistic magazine from Central and Eastern Europe concentrated on homosexuality and masculinity."

A full collection of gay history covers, updated daily throughout June, can be seen here.

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  • adrfoieroe

    DIVA, Europe's leading lesbian glossy, had chosen the photo, a homage to a legendary cover of Rolling Stone magazine featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono, for the cover of their SEX issue.

  • Claibourn Hamilton

    Thanks for the historical magazine coverage featuring work specific to LGBT content.

    OUT magazine is another one of my favorites; an iconic source for Gay men's fashion, entertainment, and lifestyle content; including impeccable editorial, design, art and photography. OUT features captivating profiles of heroic citizens and celebrities today; many that I find influential to our society and culture.



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