TIME Magazine Cover Story Asks "How Gay is Gay?" (April 16, 1979)
April 1979 was a milestone month for me. I had just moved to New York to start my first job out of college (ad agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves) and I was living on my own for the first time. I was starting my second week at the new job when TIME Magazine published a cover story titled "How Gay is Gay?" (with a cover date of April 23, it hit newsstands today). The story was a positive portrayal of the state of gay America. This was in contrast to a cover story published 10 years earlier titled "The Homosexual" which painted a more dreary picture. (My first ZeitGAYst post reported on that cover story.)
The story reported on the influence gay men had in gentrifying formerly undesirable urban neighborhoods and in starting fashion trends. Introducing disco to mainstream America was also mentioned. One gay New Yorker who was interviewed commented that he first saw Adidas sneakers and white painters pants being worn as casual wear out on Fire Island a few years before they caught on with the rest of the country.
One observation made in the article seemed like it was written today rather than 34 years ago: "A few younger gays, especially in the cities, have never hidden their identities". And even in 1979 thirty-nine cities and towns had already enacted ordinances prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in jobs and housing (NYC wouldn't pass such a law until 1986). Furthermore, 120 companies, including AT&T and IBM, had anti-discrimination policies as it pertained to hiring or promotions.
Later that year I came out to a friend I worked with, Marina, and she told me she wasn't surprised and mentioned this cover story. It seemed that I kept that particular issue of TIME on my desk for a while and she thought I was making a subtle statement.