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San Antonio LGBTQ Publications: A Portal to the City’s Queer Past, Now Available Online

April 22, 2013

As interest in queer history grows, the need to provide broad access to LGBTQ publications has intensified efforts to digitize queer materials. Last year, UTSA Libraries Special Collections began ongoing digitization of queer periodicals  housed in its  repository as well as those held by the Happy Foundation Archives. You can now begin exploring  San Antonio’s queer past through the city’s LGBTQ serials at UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. This post highlights a few of the featured periodicals.

The Calendar, May 21 1982, MS 394, Happy Foundation Archives Collection

The Calendar, May 21 1982

Published beginning in 1982, the Calendar served as the communication conduit for the San Antonio Gay Alliance (SAGA), established by Michael Stevens, former UTSA professor turned gay activist. The publication began its six-year run as a diminutive bi-weekly periodical that fit easily into the back pocket on pair of jeans. That came in handy as the Calendar’s “Community Directory” listed local queer businesses and organizations and advertisements for  gay and lesbian bars  pointed the way to the city’s thriving queer social scene. Short articles and editorials covered news and events of interest to gays and lesbians. As the 80s marched on and  AIDS  gripped San Antonio’s LGBTQ community, the disease, its casualties, and attempts to mitigate the destruction it wreaked, dominated the pages of the Calendar. Sadly, AIDS decimated SAGA’s board, taking the lives of eight board members including Stevens and ending  publication of the Calendar. [1]

Between the years of 1988 and 1991, several queer pubs were available in local bars, clubs, and businesses: Bar Talk (San Antonio Tavern Guild), River City Empty Closet, and Out in San Antonio were born to keep San Antonio’s queer community informed and entertained. Most were short-lived, sometimes lasting only a few months.

The Marquise, July 1995, Marquise Collection

The Marquise, July 1995

In 1992 The Marquise cranked out its first volume and began connecting San Antonio’s queer residents to the rest of the LGBTQ world. The publication covered news stories from coast to coast and often featured headlines from abroad in its “International News Roundup.” Local happenings were reported by Gene Elder, contributing writer and Archivist at the Happy Foundation Archives. The Marquise tackled issues important to the city’s LGBTQ community: gay marriage, lesbians and gays in the military, hate crimes, queer parenting, AIDS, and anti-gay legislation. While the Marquise did carry advertisements for local gay and lesbian bars, activism and serious news stories supplanted tales of  drag divas and bar features so popular in local publications during the 1980s.

The Marquise ceased publishing in 1997 and once again, local queer serials came in fits and spurts, a trend that continued through the early 2000s. One of the  periodicals briefly seen on shelves around the city was  San Antonio Community News. It’s approach was local and regional, showcasing news and events around San Antonio and throughout Texas.

San Antonio Community News, December 1999, MS 394, Happy Foundation Archives Collection

San Antonio Community News, December 1999

While UTSA’s Digital LGBTQ Publications collection features primarily San Antonio periodicals, issues of queer serials from elsewhere are also represented. Several issues of One magazine, the nation’s first homosexual publication, are housed at the Happy Foundation Archives and are part of the UTSA’s Digital collection.

One, July 1955, MS 394, Happy Foundation Archives Collection

One, July 1955

Ongoing digitization of  LGBTQ materials will facilitate wider access to these collections than has previously been available. Donations of records and papers from local and regional LGBTQ organizations and individuals, such as Lollie Johnson, the Rainbow Garden Club, San Antonio Lesbian Gay Assembly, and the Texas Lesbian Conference,  augment UTSA Special Collections digital holdings of LGBTQ publications and offer research opportunities for scholars, students, and members of the community.

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[1] Toby Johnson, “Michael Steve[n]s & Patrick Kerr and San Antonio’s Gay Community in the early 1980s” [http://tobyjohnson.com/michaelstevens.html], accessed April 17, 2013.

[2] One: the Homosexual Magazine, Volume III, No. 7 (July 1995), 2.

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