Come Out! would have a turbulent history and was prone to constant takeovers and changes in personnel here’s a brief account of its history by founding member and editor John Lauritsen
ComeOut!, 14 November 1969, was the first publication of the Gay Liberation Movement — not the first gay publication, by any means, but the first that belonged to the post-Stonewall movement.
The guiding light of this first issue was Roslyn Bramms, who had been Managing Editor of Screw. With patience and enthusiasm she taught us what we needed to know, including news gathering, copy preparation, legal matters, and production. Roz assigned me to be top editor under her and to be on the production team. Between the two of us we edited the articles; some needed a lot of editorial help, whereas others (like Leo Martello’s) needed almost none.
On a fine autumn day, members of the ComeOut! staff gathered together by the Morton Street pier so that Roslyn Bramms could photograph us for a logo she had in mind. She had us down on our knees, spread out in a line, and told us to pretend we were doing the crawl stroke. We all look happy and a little silly, except for me — I have no head (see above).
I had recently learned to use a single-reflex camera, so I took some photos of my own, which turned out rather well. To see my photos of the ComeOut! staff click here.
I can still remember proofreading the typeset copy with Martha Shelley the day before layout. Martha worked as a typographer, using the IBM Selectric Composer system, which was then state-of-the-art. Her boss, a lesbian, agreed that she could use the equipment after working hours — and so, the two of us worked from early evening until dawn the next day. She typed and I proofed. Although Martha and I later became political opponents, I remember her here as a topnotch typesetter and a good worker.
At the next meeting of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) following publication of this issue, members of the “June 28 cell” announced that they had taken over ComeOut! — allegedly in order to rescue it. ComeOut! staff were strongly opposed to the move, but we were caught off guard. Marty Robinson called the act outright theft, and was so furious that he had to be physically restrained by his friends. Unfortunately, at this point GLF had no structure, and voting was prohibited (everything had to be by “consensus”), so we were unable to thwart the expropriators. This unpleasant episode was one of the most important reasons that Marty Robinson, Jim Owles and Arthur Evans later split from GLF, in order to found the more orderly Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). At any rate, new people took over ComeOut!, and I and most of the original staff members were out in the cold. For Leo Martello’s opinion on the takeover of ComeOut! click here. For Ralph Hall’s opinion on the takeover click here.