This pandemic has served up a powerful reminder of the importance of LGBTQ+ connection, and particularly how hard that connection can be to achieve when we can’t gather together in person. But that’s a lesson we already knew as an LGBTQ+ community.
Over the years here in Ohio, we have weathered everything from antigay legislation, to significantly less-than-supportive communities/families, to the devastation of HIV/AIDS, to severe economic downturns. These adversities have resulted in the cancellations of annual Pride festivals, the closure of LGBTQ+ bars/clubs, and years where physically coming together as LGBTQ+ people was near-impossible. Still the need for community and connection persisted.
Enter LGBTQ+ publications.
For well over 50 years, various members of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community have wielded the mighty power of the pen to create newspapers magazines, and—more recently—websites as a means of creating invaluable and sorely-needed points of connection for our community,
In that spirit, we present to you—in roughly chronological order—15 different examples from all across the Buckeye State that have hit the presses throughout the past five decades. Undoubtedly, this list is incomplete and there are Ohio LGBTQ+ publications that we missed. That said, we salute all the efforts of our siblings over the years who have used their words to amplify our stories, to raise awareness about news we all needed to know, and to connect our great community…even when we couldn’t gather in person.
(Click on the images below for larger versions)
Originally published under the name Dinosaur News by the Lesbian Activist Bureau, Dinah was reborn under its new name in 1975. The grassroots newsletter with an all-volunteer staff featured articles, short stories, poetry and letters covering everything from womanhood, lesbianism, race, family, sex, music, literature, and everything in between. Dinah sponsored events, meetings, potlucks, protests against discrimination and domestic violence, and a winning season in the Cincinnati city league softball championship. Captured in the ink are the voices and stories of lesbians who were not given their proper due in other gay media, even as Dinah provided a platform to bring the community closer together both on and off the page. The newsletter lasted an incredible 22 years and 100 issues, finally ceasing publication in 1997.
In 1975, the GEAR Foundation launched High Gear, an all-volunteer newsletter-turned-newspaper specifically produced for the LGBTQ+ community. The publication featured a mix of local and national news, coverage of Cleveland and surrounding area events, advertising for gay businesses, and quite a few covers featuring original works of art. As seen here, the editors sometimes invented pseudonyms to make it appear as if the staff was larger than the small (but mighty) crew that kept things running. The paper was distributed for free to a selection of businesses covering a four state area and a robust subscriber list. The presses stopped on High Gear in 1982.
News of the Columbus Gay and Lesbian Community
Launching in the late 1970s, News of the Columbus Gay and Lesbian Community is widely regarded as one of Ohio’s oldest gay and lesbian publications. Despite its name, the newspaper (which had more the appearance of a really thick newsletter on newsprint) featured news both local and national, alongside personals ads, movie reviews, and the regular printing of the standings in the gay bowling league.
The Yellow Page was published in Cincinnati for a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and expanded service to Dayton in 1984. Under the tagline of “Serving Gays, Lesbians and Friends,” the newspaper presented a wide swath of content: national LGBTQ+ news (usually on the front page), updates from various LGBTQ+ organizations in Cincinnati, photos from events, and a “Health Comments by Dr. Bob” column, where readers could write in their questions, which were increasingly about HIV/AIDS.
Gay People’s Chronicle
Gay People’s Chronicle became Cleveland’s second major publication for the LGBTQ+ community when it was launched in 1985 by Charles Callender, a professor of anthropology at Case Western Reserve University. What began as a free monthly offering soon grew into a distribution of every other Friday. Circulation reached 15,000 copies with availability in more than 300 businesses, every college campus in the state, and every library system in Cuyahoga County. The publication suffered the fate of countless other newspapers across the country whose advertising dollars dried up in the face of internet usage. After a remarkable run of 31 years, printing ceased on December 25, 2015.
The Gaybeat launched on January 21, 1985, the same day as President Reagan’s second inauguration. The two dates were not a coincidence. From their first issue, “This day marks another kind of inauguration as well, that of a local, gay news publication…The purposes of The GayBeat are these: to report the news; to educate the reading public about the issues which impact our community; and to help foster a collective, political agenda for the lesbian and gay male community of greater Cincinnati.” Over its 10 years in print, Gaybeat took many forms, from photocopied typed sheets to a newsletter appearance to more traditional newsprint. No matter what the form, the mission of informing LGBTQ+ Cincinnati residents helping to create a collective voice always remained the same.
To the Root(s)
To the Root(s) was a collectively run, non-profit journal, published quarterly in the late 1980s. Their purpose was to provide an ongoing source of reflection, resource-sharing, organizational information, and social/political analysis for the Greater Cincinnati LGBTQ+ community. The content was distinctly more literary (poems, book reviews, historical analysis, etc.) than a strict reporting of the LGBTQ+ happenings of the time.
In April of 1988, a new publication entered the scene, aptly named Nouveau. The front cover did not acknowledge its launch, instead detailing a story about the phone book allowing the words “gay and lesbian” in an ad, alongside a story of a Cincinnati man who was fired from his job after it was reported that he was tested for AIDS. On the inside cover, the new publication was explained. “With this first issue, greater Cincinnati meets Nouveau. The word itself means ‘new’; but this magazine offers and gay and lesbian community something it has long valued: local news. Nouveau belongs to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. It will support our community, contribute to it, and grow with it.” The presses stopped on Nouveau in 1996.
By the mid 1980s, Stonewall Journal had become the longest running LGBTQ+ newspaper in Columbus that was then in active publication. The free monthly publication was a product of Stonewall Union and was available at LGBTQ+ establishments or to have mailed to you in a plain, unmarked envelope. Stonewall Journal featured pieces connected to the organization (community calendar, event recaps, facility updates) as well as news both local and national.
Greater Cincinnati GLBT News
Since their creation in 1982, Stonewall Human Rights Organization of Greater Cincinnati had sponsored various different types of publications in their efforts to engage with the local LGBTQ+ community. The most common was their newsletter: a mailer that has alternated between a quarterly and monthly offering. More than just information and events of the organization, the newsletter also covered relevant national news and reflections from LGBTQ+ Cincinnatians. In 2001, the newsletter was rebranded “The Wall” under the tagline of “Working to tear down prejudice brick by brick.” Stonewall Cincinnati also was the chief organization behind the 1998 launch of Greater Cincinnati GLBT News, which ran for few years before moving to an online format.
The quintessential bar rag, Outlines was the newsprint you would pick up when you wanted to know what LGBTQ+ event was happening and where. Distributed from the late 90s to the early 2010s, the publication was available in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, Lorain, Mansfield, Sandusky, Toledo, Warren, Youngstown, and quite a few places in between. In addition to event listings, Outlines regularly featured pictures from past events, having readers regularly thumbing through to see if an image of their revelry was captured in print.
From biweekly newsprint journalism, to a tabloid weekly, to a monthly lifestyle magazine, to even a brief foray into radio, Outlook was an integral part of the Columbus and greater Ohio LGBTQ+ media landscape for decades. Though the publication often changed mastheads, formats, offices, and even the very name of the publication itself, the core of Outlook had always remained the same: “the Voice of Ohio’s GLBT & Ally Community.” With content created by some truly great LGBTQ+ writers. Outlook helped set the the standard for LGBTQ+ publications from the late 90s to 2017.
Whatever you’re thinking about the professionalism of a student newspaper, stop right now. Fusion–Kent State University’s LGBTQ+ magazine–is the real deal and can match any publication on this page byline for byline. Founded in 2003, Fusion remains the region’s only Ohio student magazine focusing on LGBTQ issues. Through first-rate journalism, the incredible students who work year after year on Fusion work to promote equality and community in northeast Ohio and beyond.
After both Outlines and Gay People’s Chronicle had closed up shop, Spotlight was launched to fill the void of accessing LGBTQ+ content in Northeast Ohio. Launched by Cleveland’s legendary (and super tall!) drag queen Veranda L’Ni, Spotlight was captioned as “Cleveland’s new high-gloss monthly magazine focusing on LGBT and ally news, businesses, entertainment and social life in Northeast Ohio.” Although it only lasted from January 2014 to August later that same year, Spotlight played a pivotal role in disseminating information and entertaining the masses who had assembled for Gay Games 9 from all over the world.
Launching in October of 2017, PRIZM was an LGBTQ+-focused lifestyle magazine with coverage on current events, health, arts & culture, fashion, politics, news, travel and entertainment. A monthly publication of Equitas Health, PRIZM boasted a circulation of 22,000 glossy units covering life in Ohio, serving to connect LGBTQ+ communities across the Buckeye State. PRIZM ceased production in March of 2020 due to the economic effects of COVID-19.
(Our thanks to the following who helped us put this list together: Phebe Beiser, Jeff Bixby, Michael Chanak, Brian DeWitt, Gay Ohio History Initiative (GOHI), Staley Jophiel Munroe, Ohio History Connection, Ohio Lesbian Archives, Bob Vitale, and Western Reserve Historical Society.)