Gay Power Phrase Origin ? First Use of Gay Power as a Book Title ? Help Date this Vintage Sleaze Relic
The first use of the phrase "Gay Power" as a book title? Or just one more sleazy attempt at marketing crud to a sexual minority?
Remember the slogan "Gay Power" at all? It didn't last too long, but it did resonate. Long before ACT-UP and LGBT, it was a good chant but without legs. Generally, the origin of the phrase dates to around 1968 or 1969, and of course had "Black Power" as an influence.
I came across this smutty book recently, and got to wondering if I could identify the origin of the phrase. Know what? I'm no expert on sexual politics, but I think I have found what might well be one of the first, if not THE first, uses of Gay Power in print...and it appears in this soft-core sex digest pretending to present lesbian activity.
The problem is a lack of date in the publication. Marquis, the publisher, obviously didn't care much for their publishing legacy. There were two "Marquis" sleaze publishers. The one on the West coast is better known..as if that says anything. They were obscure too, but they printed magazine-sized, bright color smut. The East coast Marquis Publications here is undocumented. The origins of that company? A regional upstart? Maybe it came out of the mob-run gay bars of the time, another organized-crime attempt at cashing in.
Certainly the passages I have scanned here indicates "Gay Power" was a new concept at the time. Never mind that the text, uncredited, is probably written to appeal to a straight male...and of course the models were indifferent and hardly aware they were making a political statement.
Stonewall was in 1969 and the subtle and tactful New York Daily News reported the story with "Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees are Stinging Mad" the next day.
The first genuine newspaper with the title "Gay Power" came in 1969 and is attributed to August of that year by bookseller John Benjamins. Other sources say September 1969.
We will have to try the time-tested method of dating the photographs by their attire, and that will be a chore.
Interestingly, this booklet contains the photograph I posted earlier with the LP Satan in High Heels, the Leonard Burtman film and soundtrack created at the dawn of alternative sexual expression, 1961. I can't see any reason for the models to be holding the record if it had been in the cut-out bin already. On the other hand, maybe the photos were taken years before being merged with the text. The model holding it is wearing bell bottoms, so this could be as early as 1967. Additionally, there is modest exposure (no below the waist shots)...so this likely dates prior to the various landmark decisions which opened the doors (and legs) also around 1967. If it came after, I would be cropping out more than remained.
Continuing to use fashion to date this, a "companion" volume by the same publisher titled "Twosome" contains a ridiculous essay claiming the "mini-skirt" was a "symbol of lesbianism." and quotes from Caprio's Variations of Sexual Behavior which came out in 1955. I don't know if Caprio said anything about skirt length, but the nut job who wrote Twosome did. Mini-skirts were newsworthy as early as 1965, and I suppose faded like denim around 1972.
The notable Redrup decision in 1967 determined virtually anything was fine unless it was "foisted on an unwilling audience" and I do not think anyone seeing this in the window of a village bookstore would have been misled..but it is still decidedly un-pornographic. Soft-core is seldom so accurately applied. There isn't much here you won't see in a Sears catalog, but at the time, whatever the date, this was pretty spicy.
I am sure there is a scholar who has done more research on the phrase and the publisher here, but until they contribute a comment, I am going to suspect this is one important little relic.
For the record, the good scholars of Wiki say "By late 1967, a New York group called the Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN), essentially a one-man operation on the part of Craig Rodwell, was already espousing the slogans "Gay Power" and "Gay is Good" in its publication HYMNAL" but that isn't as a book title.
Any thoughts "out" there?
Gay Power Smut Digest Marquis Publishers New York, NY (No Date) Circa 1965-1970?) Collection Victor Minx
MARTY'S MASTERPIECE TAXI DRIVER STILL 1973 Vintage Sleaze
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