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Friday, October 5, 2012

Gay Blade magazine competed with Playboy for straight men in 1956

Gay Blade magazine for straight men in 1956 competed with Playboy

PHOTO: The "Gay Blade" magazine was started in 1956 to compete with the then several years old, but very successful, Playboy magazine that catered to heterosexual male readers who were interested in sex. Although the term "gay" had been used in underground circles of homosexual men prior to the 1969 Stonewall riot, the word gay was not associated by the general population with homosexuals until in the 1970s. The above screenshot is from the very interesting TV documentary, "How Playboy Changed the World," History Channel program first aired Oct. 2, 2012, 6-8PM PT. It discusses the fight that Hugh Hefner, Playboy's publisher, led to repeal sodomy laws, which were putting even heterosexuals into prison for years just for having performed oral sex. Also, the show talks about the successful fight Hefner and several attorneys led to overturn Victorian era obscenity laws. Ironically, the last shot of the documentary shows the article written for Playboy magazine by the gay writer Dan Savage, which advocated why straights should be supporting gay marriage: "Gay Marriage, what's in it for you? Why straight guys should care about homosexual unions." (Note: I was unable to find a date or link to it, but I did find a short piece by Staff, "Playboy's Hugh Hefner: Gay Marriage Is A Fight For All Of Our Rights," posted Aug. 21, 2012.) Dan, who is gay, starts out his Playboy article by saying he read Playboy more than did his straight brothers. Eerily, the show also mentions that Hugh Hefner had a stroke at the age of 58, but recovered like me.

'The Gay Blade Clothes for men Oregon Washington' box artwork circa 1970s

PHOTO: See previous post the Gay Blade Clothes for men store (7/27/06) and history article by Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1969-2004," where I show an example of a clothing store and ice cream parlor in downtown Corvallis, Oregon that used the word gay in their name before dropping the gay part in the 1970s.

Also see these previous posts about how the word gay became widely associated with homosexuals: