The P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History's collection on LGBTQ+ publications in Florida focuses on newspapers or periodicals published during the 1970s and 1980s. These publications covered people, events, arts and entertainment, and political issues of interest to gay and lesbian communities.
The collection centers on runs of Florida-based publications, but also includes single or sample issues of national publications that ran major stories on Florida. At the core of this collection is an 18-month run of The Weekly News (TWN), published in Miami, for 1980 and 1981. The run not only reflects a dramatic transformation of TWN’s look but also marks a time just before HIV was officially documented by the Centers for Disease Control and climbed to epidemic proportions, disproportionately affecting the gay community.
The collection supplements and fills in gaps in the University of Florida’s online collection, Digital LGBTQIA+ (https://ufdc.ufl.edu/lgbtqia) which features 25 periodicals published by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual organizations, primarily from 2006 and later.
The Weekly News (TWN), published in Miami, Florida, from 1977 until 2006. TWN billed itself as a newspaper "serving the southern gay community." At the time of its final issue, TWN was the longest running gay newspaper in Florida. The newspaper was part of the National Gay Newspaper Guild (NGNG) and had a circulation of approximately 20,000 issues per week at the peak of its production. It was created as part of the fight to pass an amendment in Dade County that legally banned discrimination in housing, accommodation, and employment based on sexual preference. Although the amendment was a piece of local legislation, it drew national attention when singer Anita Bryant, promoter of Florida orange juice and anti-gay activist, launched an attack on it. Her campaign provoked determined push-back from gay civil rights organizations across the country.
TWN was first published by the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights, but the paper cut ties with the organization in 1980 to become a not-for-profit publication. The UF collection contains a nearly complete run of TWN from January 1980 to April 1981. Coverage focuses on political issues although late in the run articles about HIV begin to appear. The newspaper originally followed a layout similar to any newspaper weekly, but in mid-run switched to bold front pages that featured a single photograph or piece of line-art illustration.
The Homosexual Citizen. Dates: June 1966, July 1966, September 1966, October 1966
Where the Action Is. Date: Volume 1, No. 5, May 2-16, 1975
Blueboy: The national magazine about men. Volume 5, Date: April 1976
The Advocate. Issues 206 and 222. Dates: December 29, 1976 and August 24, 1977
Newswest. Issue 46 and 49. Dates: February 17, 1977 and March 31, 1977
Gay Peoples Union News. Volume 6, Number 7. Date: April 1977
Upfront America. Volume 1, Issue 3. Date: February 1, 1980
The Weekly News. Volume 3, Number 18 - Volume 4, Number 33. Dates: January 9, 1980 - April 22, 1981
Visit Orlando Gay & Lesbian Orlando Travel Guide. 2014
The Unleashed Voice Magazine. July/August 2016
Other publications in the collection include four issues of The Homosexual Citizen, a co-publication of the Mattachine Societies of Washington D.C. and Florida. Mattachine Societies were the fore-runners of the modern gay rights movement in the 1950s in the United States. In Florida, the president of the Mattachine Society was Richard Inman, one of the first gay activists in the South. The Homosexual Citizen ran for only 1 year, 1966-1967, when its editorial staff parted ways. The papers of two of the newsletter’s other founders, Frank Kameny, who was also a famous NASA astronomer, and Lilli Vincenz are available at the Library of Congress.
Two issues of The Advocate from 1976-1977 and two issues of Newswest from 1977, both newspapers based out of California, provide further context about the milieu of mid-twentieth century LGBTQ+ news publishing. A 1980 issue of Texas newspaper, Upfront America, and a 1977 issue of the Gay People’s Union from Wisconsin, also demonstrate that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights was not confined to the east and west coasts but rather was part of a network of diverse voices from all parts of the United States. All these issues contain articles pertaining to Florida.
The collection has a single issue (May 2-16, 1975) of the short-lived Miami periodical Where the Action Is, published by Gemini Publications. It featured night-spots of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, with general news on film and music, and a full page ad run by the B.O.A. (Bar Owners Association) about organizing for gay rights.