ONE Archives Exhibit Featured in Los Angeles Times

ONE Archives

The Los Angeles Times recently featured ONE Magazine at Seventy, a new exhibition from the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. Curated by Alexis Bard Johnson, Quetzal Arévalo, and Sela Kerr, the exhibition chronicles the history of the pioneering LGBTQ+ publication, which debuted in January 1953. 

Here's the Times' Manuel Betancourt on the curators' approach:

As Johnson explains to The Times, it’s important to situate One’s archives in conversation with contemporary issues. In its heyday, One tackled everything from gay marriage and the Lavender scare (“Are Homosexuals Security Risks?” its October 1960 cover asked readers) to more specific topics (“Must I Answer That Cop?”) about what it meant to live in a society that was openly hostile to so-called perverts and deviants.

Betancourt also quotes ONE Archives director Joseph Hawkins on the power of the magazine, decades after it stopped publishing:

Some older folks have openly wept in front of him when faced with copies of the magazine they hadn’t seen in decades. “For them, they were in this complete darkness back then and this was the light that led them out,” he says.

The magazine’s covers, many of which might feel rather staid in 2023, were outright scandalous in the 1950s and 1960s. So much so that readers went out of their way to avoid parading them in public. As Hawkins puts it, “One magazine was a closeted publication.”  “People were afraid to get an envelope that said ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or anything on it,” he adds. “People have told me that they actually put the One magazine into a brown paper bag. They would clutch them to their chest and wait until they got to their apartments. And then read them with the drapes closed and the door closed because they were too paranoid that somebody was going to find out. Because you could lose your job, you could get arrested, all kinds of horrible things could happen.”

ONE Magazine at Seventy is on display through November 5 at the Advocate & Gochis Galleries at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.