By David Duffield
The premier issue of Out Front covered hustling in Denver, the coronation of the International Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, and more. Phil Price, owner, wrote an op-ed hoping Out Front would ensure “quality journalism for all the gay people in the Rocky Mountain Region.” He recommended that readers send letters to the editors and stressed the quality journalism he hoped to achieve. “In the spirit of gay brotherhood and sisterhood,” he invited the community to read. Ads for Christi for Empress, the Empire Baths, and Gay Cowboys adorned the pages, while sex sold the rest.
The second issue’s editorial by Michael Clarken reflected the fall of South Vietnam and noted “America’s imperialist chickens” had come home to roost. The lesson of Vietnam, he concluded for gays and lesbians, was that “the path to liberation” lay in solidarity.
The 1977 Pride issue showed a black man holding a sign promoting “Power to the People” while another man held a sign saying “I AM A FAGGOT.”
1976–1981 represented a great time of features on the community such as youth, activism, gays in prison, and a continuous dialogue in letters to the editor.
1981 noted a battle between Julian Rush and his church, and a prophetic piece by Phil Nash in 1982 — Health From Clap to Kaposi’s — which noted that the Gay Liberation Movement was synonymous with a laissez-faire attitude toward sex, and a “ticking time bomb” of alarming infections among gay men.
“We have only seen the tip of the iceberg,” Nash wrote. Gay athletes, gay ski week, bi-racial men’s groups, political action, and HIV/AIDS stories proliferate up to 1986. Clubs like the Foxhole and Tracks, bars like Charlie’s and the Triangle, and gay businesses began to fill the pages. Messages like “Get tested” and “Go square dancing” grow, while drag dominated, and community culture permanently graced the pages.
Anti-discrimination ordinances in Boulder, Aspen, and Denver follow from 1987–1990. A Lesbian For Governor? Activist Takes on Romer, Media & Establishment noted Tea Schook’s efforts on the anti-discrimination ordinances and her run against Gov. Romer.
Most of the stories in 1991 and 1992 shift to the cultural or national efforts to repeal anti-discrimination laws that seem distant. Jim McNulty reported that Amendment 2 Solidifies Community Like Never Before while Judy Herrington noted: “In the face of defeat … this has turned into something to galvanize the community.”
In the years after, columns reshaped the pages of Out Front and politics settled. However, the obituaries that appear in each issue are almost exclusively those of gay men. HIV and the “hate state” left their mark.
From 1994 to 1996, stories told of the establishment of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the maneuverings of Marilyn Musgrave to establish the Defense of Marriage Act. The headline on May 2, 1996 was The Burying of Amendment 2. However, another article noted “gay apathy” toward Amendment 2.
A year later, Dan Haney wrote an article about a promising new HIV cocktail (High Hopes for AIDS Drug Mix) at the 12th annual conference on AIDS. Cultural coverage grew from the 1997–2000, though a 1998 article noted Gay Marriage Ban likely in ’99. Issues like gay marriage and gays in the Boy Scouts replaced anti-discrimination.
One article by Paula Martinez asked Are Gays Better Off Today? She noted that “by many indications, attitudes toward gay people are gradually changing.” There were significant advances in popular culture post-2000. Reviews of Queer As Folk appeared, and openly gay actors and television characters flourished. Geoffrey Bateman noted in An Army of NONE: The Failure of DADT that the “homophobic values” DADT promoted “influence civilian lives,” and that “the military continues to play a powerful and highly visible role in our culture; we cannot afford to ignore its treatment of us.” Gay families and photos of gay men and women with their children at Pride appeared in the headlines. In My Big Gay Family Renee Fajardo noted three generations of his family who were gay. As well, transgender coverage came to the fore. Racially diverse, family-oriented, and shifting values were reflected in our images. Times changed.
Coverage of domestic partnerships gave way to marriage equality in Amendment I and 43 in 2006. After the defeat, Pat Steadman wrote “among the most important lessons is turning out the vote.” In Queering the Convention, Sunnivie Brydum spoke about the Stonewall Dems and political capital of the gay community.
The Rights Five (employment non-discrimination, public accommodations, hate crimes protection, second parent adoption, and designated beneficiaries) adorned the paper and populated pride. The repeal of DADT in 2011, the defeat of civil unions in 2012 then victory in 2013, and marriage equality in 2014 followed quickly. Apparently there is no turning back, and in the “spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood,” we invite you to read on.