natural evolution

This 1972 author predicted gay rights, non-monogamy, and maybe even Grindr

ONE Mag Vol 16 Issue 1

Magazine cover courtesy of ONE Archives Foundation

In honor of LGBTQ History Month, we’re taking a deep dive look-back at the first gay publication in America—ONE magazine. Launched in Los Angeles in 1953, ONE was published by One, Inc., which grew from The Mattachine Society, the seminal gay-rights group founded by Harry Hay. Its editorial founders were Martin Block, Don Slater, and Dale Jennings. Produced on a shoestring and sold for 25 cents, ONE began to change the course of history with an unapologetic exploration of homosexuality and the largely unexamined societal taboo against it. 

This is the ninth in our series of ONE magazine cover stories.

Volume 16, Issue 1: Future Styles of Life & Love

Read Gus Dyer’s long think piece describing where he imagined society was headed in 1972 and you might wonder if the writer had a crystal ball. In the early days of the birth control pill and with headlines touting a population explosion, Dyer made some astute predictions:

  • Stay-at-home wives were going out of style. Housewifery bored them, and two incomes were better than one.
  • Not everyone would continue to feel compelled to have children. Those who did would see them as a joy instead of a burden.
  • Easy birth control would succeed in separating sex, companionship, and procreation from each other under the umbrella of marriage.

And that’s just the first page of this prescient essay. Dyer goes on to predict the emergence of serial monogamy, non-monogamy, and more communal styles of child-rearing. He doesn’t get everything right. For instance, he sees the fear of venereal disease as lessening in the coming decades, but to be fair, how could he have possibly predicted HIV? And while his vision of everyone freely buying and selling sex on the open market hasn’t transpired in exactly those terms, you could say that dating apps have ushered in a “market” just as free-flowing but based on bartering.

Perhaps most alluringly, Dyer sees how all this plays out in the field of civil rights and the Supreme Court:

The emergence of a new concept of constitutional democracy – with emphasis on interpretations which implement the protection of minority interests – is almost certain to liberalize marriage and family arrangements. This trend is possibly being accentuated – slowly, of course – through biological evolution which, as among rabbits and dogs, appears to be producing a wider range of variations, each with its own special interests. To the extent that the Supreme Court recognizes and appreciates this diversity of interests, its interpretations will be more liberal.

If he could see us now, we think he’d be satisfied at the progress we’ve made.

Thanks to ONE Archives Foundation for making this series possible. ONE Archives Foundation provides access to original source material at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries—the largest such collection in the world.