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Looking Back in SGN History: The S______ Times — they are a-changing

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A page from Volume 2, Issue 3  

Dive into the archives of the SGN at https://issuu.com/sgn.org

MAY 1975

It took a lot of time and effort but Seattle's gay community has once again demonstrated that standing up for our rights CAN pay off. As a case in point, take the recent dispute between the Gay Community Center and Seattle's two major daily newspapers, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

On February 7th, the Community Center's Jobline Program submitted a request for advertising to both papers. The ad read: JOBLINE=SURVIVAL, GAY COMMUNITY CENTER, and gave the address and telephone number of the Community Center. Simple enough? With the economic situation what it is, who could possibly refuse to print an ad for an employment service? The Times and P-I did. On February 13, the Center received a letter from the P-I stating that the "policy committee did not approve the ad for publication." The next day the advertising manager for the Times called with the same message. The ad was unacceptable. It seems both papers had a problem with the word 'gay'. You see, gay defines us as human beings, it implies a certain amount of respect. 'Homosexual' — a word which both papers are quite willing to print — may define what we do in bed, but we're a lot more than what we do in bed. We are people, we are not objects of someone's sexual curiosity.

So we decided to fight. The Jobline office quickly got in touch with the Office of Women's Rights and was told that there might be a possibility of filing a complaint under the City of Seattle's Fair Employment Practices Ordinance. Barbara Carter, an investigator from the OWR, called the papers to begin an investigation. Meanwhile, Susan Chadwick, a reporter for the Seattle Sun, expressed some interest in the problems we were having and we talked about them in detail. On February 26, the Sun ran a front page article about the controversy. Ms. Chadwick pointed out that the Community Center had a similar problem with an attempt print an ad containing the word 'gay' for our benefit showing of "A Very Natural Thing". She further mentioned that while investigating the story, her colleagues in journalism at the Times and P-I had given her a pretty rude brush-off.

Shortly after the appearance of the Sun article, the P-I informed us that their 'policy decision' was the result of a misunderstanding on the part of an advertising Manager newly hired from Cincinatti [sic]. They agreed to print the ad and assured us that there would be no ban on the word 'gay' in the pages of the P-I. Further inquiries at the Times, however, revealed that there had been no 'misunderstanding' there. They understood perfectly, and on February 28 they informed us that the policy would remain in effect. What they didn't understand was our determination to see our legal rights enforced. Under threat of an investigation by the Office of Women's Rights, and possible prosecution, the Times changed its tune. On March 12, the Times informed us that the ad would be printed as written.

There's a lesson in all of this, and it's well summed up by Sam Deaderick in an article in April's Northwest Gay Review. "The media in this city is learning that gay people refuse to be ignored any longer — it's a lesson they need to learn well, and that the gay community can't afford to let them forget."

To view the article in full, go to https://issuu.com/sgn.org/docs/sgn_may_1975