Rough News—Daring Views: 1950s’ Pioneer Gay Press Journalism
by Jim Kepner
Published by Harrington Park Press (Haworth)
Published February 1998
Nonfiction (history, journalism)
462 pages; notes, index • find on Amazon.com
Hardcover ISBN: 0789001403
Paperback ISBN: 1560238968
Includes Forward: “Jim Kepner, Our Contemporary,” by Wayne Dynes and Preface by Mark Thompson
Abstract (from the cover of the book)
Rough News—Daring Views is a collection of the most challenging and wide-ranging essays on gay life—and its political, social, religious, and historical aspects—to appear in the pioneer gay press in America. Reprinted here are Jim Kepner’s invaluable contributions to ONE Magazine, Mattacine Review, ONE Institute Quarterly of Homophile Studies, ONE Confidential, and other publications from the 1950s, a time when to produce or possess any such material was judged illegal and subversive.
Most significantly to many pioneers in the modern gay and lesbian movement, Jim Kepner’s new book is a comprehensive collection of his writings and collected items about events, researches, and publications that established the movement’s beginnings many years before Stonewall in 1969, a date that New York and major information media have established as its origin.
Stonewall was an important and galvanizing event in the development and recognition of the modem gay movement. But the movement was established decades previously, for the most part on the West Coast.Much of this history is documented In Rough News, Daring Views by Kepner — a book that is Interesting, important, and fun to read. It sets a lot of the record straight.
—Harold L. Call
Executive Director, Mattachine Society Inc.
San Francisco, CA
There is a myth that gay liberation emerged full blown from the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City. Jim Kepner’s collection of columns and potpourri from his writings between 1954 and 1959, mainly from ONE Magazine, emphasizes just how inaccurate this myth is. Under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms, Jim reprints for us a kind of diary of events taking place in the gay community In this crucial period.
Jim was not quite there at the beginning of the Los Angeles gay movement, but after his decision to stay In Los Angeles in 1951, he became its chronicler. Although a man of strong opinions, he managed for the most part to maintain contact with all sections of the gay community. This book chronicles what was taking place in Los Angeles, nationally, and even occasionally intemationally. Kepner emphasizes also the importance that lesbians contributed to the growth of organizations such as ONE and to the gay movement in general.
For anyone interested In what was taking place in some of the most formative years of the rising gay consciousness during the ‘conservative’ 1950s, Kepner is must reading. What seems clear Is that the members of the gay community were not in hibernation at that time but busy agitating, publicizing, and organizing.
—Vern L. Bullough, PhD
SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Visiting Professor, University of Southern California
When he was a baby, Jim Kepner — now a legend of American gay journalism —was found wrapped in a newspaper under an oleander bush, thus wrapping him also in a kind of Newspaper person’s Moses drag.
Rough News, Daring Views puts this extraordinary man in his proper context as that of a pioneering giant on whose shoulders much of what is best in American gay news coverage and commentary rests. Kepner’s philosophical interests are always broad, his fairness sound, and he is ever a tireless artist-reporter, overflowing with punchy, inquisitive daring, while his erudition erupts in wide-ranging, thought-provoking pieces.
This great book, an historic treasure, shockingly shows how far we’ve traveled since the social barbarism of the 1950s. Yet reportage today could be vastly improved if lesbian and gay media giants were to study the attitudes reflected by this gentle observer, Jim. Kepner, thereby passing to the future the best to be plucked from his feisty spirit.
Senior Editor, Badpuppy’s Gay Today
Author, The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists
In his role as a founder of many gay institutions, Jim Kepner is widely recognized as a pioneer of the gay movement. However, in reading this book, with his 1950s writings collected together for the first time, the crucial importance of Kepner’s ideas in shaping this movement becomes apparent.
Years before others even emerged from their closets enough to defend their right to existence, Kepner was shaping a philosophy of liberation to improve the deplorable self-image of gay men and lesbians, and to provide a response to the arguments of homophobes that were so dominant in the 1950s. The articles reprinted here provide a mixture of news reports describing the horrors that homosexuals had to endure on a daily basis in the 1950s, along with astoundingly original analyses on psychological, biological, historical, religious, and other topics.
This book Is a major document of our history.
—Walter L. Williams, PhD
Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies,University of Southern California
Director, ONE Institute Center for Advanced Studies
The gay rights movement had three remarkable pioneers. Two—Harry Hay and Dorr Legg—have long been recognized, whereas the contribution of the third—Jim Kepner—has never been adequately documented, at least until now. An indefatigable journalist, Kepner published a staggering number of articles during the 1950s and well beyond, but they appeared in journals that were never widely disseminated.
Moreover, Kepner frequently wrote under a variety of pseudonyms. With the publication of Rough News, Daring Views, It Is at last possible to read a selection of those articles and to contemplate the witty, sometimes hilarious, always provocative way In which Kepner determined to Inform and educate his audience. Kepner’s pages recall a past filled with ugliness (the violence of police harassment across the United States and abroad), deceit (therapists who claimed to cure men of their homosexuality), and dissension (should homosexuals assert themselves or seek assimilation and acceptance?), an Important chronicle, to be sure.
But what separates Kepner’s writing from other accounts of the same period is his persistent use of Information to affirm the worth of gay men as human beings and expose their political and Intellectual enemies. Kepner’s articles record not only the past of the gay rights movement but also Its soul. As such they have lost none of their pertinence and poignancy.
—William A. Percy, PhD
Professor of History
University of Massachusetts, Boston
Jim Kepner began collecting, in 1942, the books and papers that grew into the International Gay & Lesbian Archives. He has been an editor or staff writer for ONE Magazine, The Advocate, and other gay periodicals, and has launched several others including Pursuit & Symposium and Jim Kepner’s Song & Dance.
Kepner helped found gay studies classes in America in 1956, conducting such classes specializing in gay history at UCLA’s Experimental College and in six other cities. Mr. Kepner was an officer or founder of ONE Incorporated, PRIDE (which launched The Advocate), the Council on Religion & the Homophile, and several other groups.
An activist and teacher, Jim Kepner has been honored by the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, the Los Angeles and Wisconsin Pride Committees, and the Southern California Library for Social Studies.