When you’ve been a leading editorial publication for over 90 years like Time magazine, the opinions and beliefs propagated by the writing staff will naturally evolve with history.
And thank goodness they have. Recent cover stories have included the Transgender Tipping Point featuring Laverne Cox as the first trans person to grace the cover to headlines like “Gay Marriage Already Won.”
But it’s interesting to look back on the magazine’s attitudes that don’t stand the test of time to realize that so much of today’s racist, sexist and homophobic vitriol will be looked back on in the same uncomfortable way.
Yesterday would have been Truman Capote’s 90th birthday, and Time decided to post this reader letter and Time response that were originally published in 1948.
The reader, R. E. Berg (from San Francisco, it should be noted), was upset that the magazine treated homosexuality with such biting disdain. R. E. Berg wrote:
You seem to advocate tolerance for the customary things discriminated against: race, color, creed, religion, etc. However, I do not believe you have ever made a reference to homosexuality (a perfectly legitimate psychological condition) without going specially out of your way to make a vicious insinuation, caustic remark, or “dirty dig.”
Your review of Truman Capote‘s Other Voices Other Rooms (Time, Jan. 26) concludes . . . : “For all his novel’s gifted invention and imagery, the distasteful trappings of its homosexual theme overhang it like Spanish moss.”
I have seen a great deal of Spanish moss in a lot of places . . . and I must confess that some of it is quite beautiful. . . .
R. E. BERG
San Francisco, Calif.
The editor’s response? “It gives TIME the creeps. — ED.”
We’re glad Time decided to publish a darker side of its past. Recognizing one’s own evolution is the key to continual growth, whether you’re an iconic publication, the father of a gay kid or even that gay kid herself.
1948 may have only been 66 years ago, but it might as well have been the “Dark Ages” as far as homosexuality is concerned.
Truman Capote ended up looking like that bulldog
I agree that we have “come a long way, baby” in the past 66 years.
However, 1948 is also when the Kinsey Report was published and revealed that
“10% of American males surveyed were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55” (in the 5 to 6 range).
Although this 10% statistic has been debated for accuracy since that time,
it did (IMHO) start a scientific and social dialog about the validity of homosexual experience that eventually led to the (still developing) understanding and acceptance that we enjoy today.
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