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.”