Queer Rights, circa 1953: "One Is Not Grateful"

Cover of “One Magazine,” the October 1953 issue. A large caption says: “One Is Not Grateful.”Box Turtle Bulletin tells a bit of fascinating history: One magazine, a gay rights magazine1 published in the 1950s.

The occasion was the Post Office deciding that One was not criminal to send through the mail, a decision that greatly improved One‘s prospects. The editors declared their lack of gratitude in an editorial printed on the cover:

Your August issue is late because the postal authorities in Washington and Los Angeles had it under a microscope. They studied it carefully from the 2nd until the 18th of September and finally decided that there was nothing obscene, lewd or lascivious in it. They allowed it to continue on its way. We have been found suitable for mailing.

…But one point must be made very clear. ONE is not grateful. ONE thanks no one for this reluctant acceptance. It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough. As we sit around quietly like nice little ladies and gentlemen gradually educating the public and the courts at our leisure, thousands of homosexuals are being unjustly arrested, blackmailed, fined, jailed, intimidated, beaten, ruined and murdered. ONE’s victory might seem big and historic as you read of it in the comfort of your home (locked in the bathroom? hidden under a stack of other magazines? sealed first class?). But the deviate hearing of our late August issue through jail bars will not be overly impressed.

God, they fucking rocked.

Click through and read the entire Box Turtle Bulletin post — it’s fascinating stuff, including the first pro-gay-rights Supreme Court decision in US history (fifty years ago last week), and brief mentions of John Gielgud and (shamefully) the ACLU.

  1. Judging from the tiny snippets BTB quotes, it seems that they were very much focused on gay men, not on lesbians. []
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3 Responses to Queer Rights, circa 1953: "One Is Not Grateful"

  1. That’s pretty damn inspiring, coming from the time and place that it does. Today, it’s still timely – for any group who’s being asked to sit down and shut up and be grateful and thankful for not being crapped on in return.

    And the graphic design involved rocks. It was pretty courageous. I wouldn’t change a thing, myself.

  2. 2
    Roberta says:

    It is bolder than anything I can imagine being done today.

  3. 3
    curiousgyrl says:

    super cool