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Remember 50 Years Ago When Time Was Reporting Fantastical Theories About Gays?

A lot has happened in the newsweekly magazine space over the last few decades. Namely, they’ve become less read and less relevant! Blame cable news and blogs and Twitter. But like the rest of the media and America, they’ve gradually transformed from printed homophobic theory into well-reasoned discussion factories on LGBT politics and life. Let’s take Time magazine as a case study, shall we?

A user on MetaFilter examined some of Time‘s gay archives from the 1950s thru 70s to document how the copy changed, which itself is a case study showing how the magazine’s queer slant evolved.

Here’s a snippet from 1956 “Curable Disease?”:

What is homosexuality? Is it curable? Some recent misleading propaganda alleges that homosexuality is an incurable, hereditary condition, and that the homosexual way of life is therefore “normal” for an unspecified proportion of the population . . . Not so says Manhattan Psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler. In Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life? (Hill and Wang; $5), published last week, he swiftly demolishes some popular misconceptions.

Homosexuality, says Analyst Bergler, is neither a “biologically determined destiny, nor incomprehensible ill luck.” In Freudian terms he traces a complicated pattern of the development of homosexuality from infantile frustrations, through “pleasure in displeasure.” to unconscious psychic masochism. The full-grown homosexual, as Bergler sees him, wallows in self-pity and continually provokes hostility to ensure himself more opportunities for self pity he “collects” injustices—sometimes real, often fancied; he is full of defensive malice and flippancy, covering his depression and guilt with extreme narcissism and superciliousness. He refuses to acknowledge accepted standards even in nonsexual matters, assuming that homosexuals have a right to cut moral corners as compensation for their “suffering.” He is generally unreliable, in an essentially psychopathic way.

Jump to 1979′s cover story “How Gay Is Gay?”:

Wandering into the New Town section of Chicago’s North Side, a visitor quickly notices the changed city scene: male couples in tight jeans and with close-cropped hair walk together; the crowd watching a volleyball game in Lincoln Park is all male, so are most of the people taking the spring air on a strip of beach along Lake Michigan. In the past few years New Town has become Chicago’s first center of open homosexual activity, with an initial result that could have been predicted a decade ago: last summer roving gangs of young toughs shouting anti-homosexual epithets beat up a number of men strolling the streets of the area late at night.

What followed, however, would have been remarkable if not unthinkable in Chicago or in many other major American cities just a few years ago. Gay Life, a local homosexual weekly, organized street patrols to stop the assaults. They were also aided by “straight” volunteers from neighborhood community associations. Moreover, they were helped by the Chicago police. Says a rather astonished Grant Ford, publisher of Gay Life: “The community groups came to our help right away. They saw us as neighbors rather than gays. The police were even more amazing. They were totally cooperative.”

In its way, what happened in New Town symbolizes a national trend that is changing the lives of the American minority that forms the gay society.

And now Time is putting gays on its Time 100 list and documenting the red shirts taking over Disney, without nary a sarcastic, denigrating comment in sight!

You could really play this game with any publication, if only to see how long it takes copy editors replace “homosexuals” with “gays and lesbians.”

By:           John Rogers
On:           Jun 21, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 16 Comments
    • M
      M

      We have come a long way. Time is still better than that trashy Newsweek.

      Jun 21, 2010 at 5:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jimstoic
      jimstoic

      It sounds like Dr. Bergler based his entire analysis of homosexuality on one guy.

      Jun 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      @jimstoic: Most likely the rentboy he usually hired………….

      Jun 21, 2010 at 5:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tallskin
      Tallskin

      What? You mean being homosexual is now ok? No more guilt or angst?

      Damn, there goes my social life

      Jun 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brihova
      brihova

      Jet magazine did an article about gays and the ballroom scene back in the day to. It’s was an intresting read. I’m sure it would come up if you do a google search.

      Jun 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jeffree
      jeffree

      Reading some of that old stuff isnt far off from what you read on the exgay, NOM, concerned women websites. Same focus on pathologizing us & our “lifestyle,” and seeing us as a huge threat to young christian people. And marriages !

      We’ve come a long way, but we have “miles to go before we sleep”.

      Jun 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com
      Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com

      While the source article quotes that issue, they don’t note the additional significance of the September 8, 1975, issue of TIME, thirty-five years ago.

      Though it still had a long way to go in dumping the “gays are abnormal” and “a threat” spin, it was far better than earlier articles.

      But its history-making contribution was the first appearance on a mainstream publication cover of a named gay person: T SGT Leonard Matlovich, USAF, who was the first gay service member to challenge the military ban and out himself in the process.

      [img]http://wpcontent.answers.com/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f5/Matlovich_time_cover.jpg/220px-Matlovich_time_cover.jpg[/img]

      I’m a bit biased as he and I became friends, but I’ve even heard people say that “I remember where I was when I heard JFK had been shot and I remember where I was when I first saw that cover.”

      Ironically, this year’s visit of LGBTs to the White House falls on the 22nd aniverary of his death from AIDS.

      http://www.leonardmatlovich.com

      Jun 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ossurworld
      ossurworld

      Time was never up with the times.

      Jun 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BillySaint
      BillySaint

      I think soon we will be seeing the word Gay be used more interchangably with it’s original meaning, the more we integrate into society. I’d rather be called a mo any day than gay.

      Jun 21, 2010 at 11:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Revemupman
      Revemupman

      I hope that one day coming out as a gay/bi/trans male can be as easy as the female gender in the western society. Sometimes I really think its asinine to have parades celebrating sexual orientation. It should be as normalized as straight individuals. Some how these pride events only make homosexuals seem like the special olympics. Everyone one’s rooting for the underdog huh?

      Jun 22, 2010 at 12:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • j
      j

      @Revemupman: Hmm, and what exactly is wrong with the special olympics? Seems like you and Jason indulge in more than one form of bigotry, eh?

      Jun 22, 2010 at 7:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      #2 Jimstoic – yes analysts of the 50′s who are supposedly trained in the scientific method completely overlooked that ONLY Gay men who thought they had a problem AND had the money for therapy came to see a shrink. From this skewed sample conclusions were drawn, books and “scientific” papers were written.

      It is hard to believe any other research topic would not have immediately been suspect using such sloppy data and methods. Obviously hatred/loathing of homosexuals allowed people to be blind to objectivity.

      Jun 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • swarm
      swarm

      @11 J – No fair. You know exactly what he meant and he is correct. Or do you consider yourself “special” or “challenged” or “special abled” as a human being? or whatever the PC term is now…

      Special Olympians are not athletically “equal to” non special Olympians or they would be in THE Olympics. Or is that too obvious for you. Do you consider yourself not intellectually equal to heterosexuals?

      Gay Pride events are international. Apparently there’s a “need” so it’s not just here. “Tolerant” and legal =/= EQUAL yet.

      Jun 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      What is transsexuality? Is it curable? Some recent misleading propaganda alleges that transsexuality is an incurable, hereditary condition, and that the transsexual way of life is therefore “normal” for an unspecified proportion of the population . . . Not so says Manhattan Psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler. In transsexuality: Disease or Way of Life? (Hill and Wang; $50), published last week, he swiftly demolishes some popular misconceptions.

      transsexuality, says Analyst Bergler, is neither a “biologically determined destiny, nor incomprehensible ill luck.” In Freudian terms he traces a complicated pattern of the development of transsexuality from infantile frustrations, through “pleasure in displeasure.” to unconscious psychic masochism. The full-grown transsexual, as Bergler sees him, wallows in self-pity and continually provokes hostility to ensure himself more opportunities for self pity he “collects” injustices—sometimes real, often fancied; he is full of defensive malice and flippancy, covering his depression and guilt with extreme narcissism and superciliousness. He refuses to acknowledge accepted standards even in nonsexual matters, assuming that transsexuals have a right to cut moral corners as compensation for their “suffering.” He is generally unreliable, in an essentially psychopathic way.

      That could have been written TODAY. Articles like that are still being produced, not by the Raving Religious Right, but in mainstream publications.

      Jun 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Peter
      Peter

      “Time” totally trashed gays in an essay, Jan 21, 1966. Google this and read it for a real shocker. It states that gay men are incapable of talking about “things normal men take seriously.” Homosexuality is caused by ” a disabling fear of the opposite sex”. Gays are constantly recruiting others, so that the courts will need to determine the legal distinctions between “seduction and consent.” The worst is : “Homosexuality is a pathetic second rate substitute for reality, a pitiable life.” It goes on to calls homosexuality a “pernicious sickness.” I read this horror piece in the bathroom as a 13 year old kid who was wondering about sexual matters. Needless to say, it shook me up. A year or so later, “Look” magazine, a competitor to Life magazine, published a long photo piece about “The sad gay life of homosexuals.” The theme was that all gays are unhappy losers.
      Queerty and the others who always disparage the big national organizations, I hope you read up a bit on gay/lesbian history to see how essential the big organizations have been in fighting these attitudes.

      Jul 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rhonda
      rhonda

      @Revemupman: There is NO gay gene. The scientific community cannot support that theory. I have to agree that the “gay pride parades” do nothing to help the cause, what it does do is repulse many people even those who are in support of the gays as individuals.

      Aug 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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