The US-based national gay and lesbian news magazine The Advocate celebrated its 45th anniversary Thursday (29 March) with a star-studded benefit in Beverly Hills that included some attendees who have graced the magazine's cover over the years.
'It was founded in 1967 after the raids of The Black Cat Bar in Silverlake,' current editor Matthew Breen told Gay Star News at the event. 'For 45 years, we’ve been reporting on every aspect of LGBT life – politics, arts and entertainment, advances in rights. So it’s a really fantastic night for us to celebrate that rich history.'
Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who was a cover subject in 2009, became something of a historian on the magazine when he delved into the archives to research his film Milk, about the life of Harvey Milk.
"The very, very old issues that were mostly like personal ads – gay guys looking for gay guys at a time when that was very taboo,' he told GSN. 'You could really watch the gay and lesbian movement turn into the LGBT movement, mature, become more inclusive, include more and more radical ideas, more progressive ideas as you watch The Advocate. It’s been amazing to watch it go from … kind of just for gay men, to what it is now. It has a website and reaches out to the trans community, the bisexual community, the QIA community for the young people. They’re keeping up. It’s important.'
The Advocate began as a local newsletter under the name Los Angeles Advocate which was published in September 1967. Within two years, it was simply called The Advocate and was distributed nationally. By by 1974, it had a circulation of 40,000.
When an investment banker named David Goodstein bought the publication in 1974, he transformed it into a national news magazine and reduced sex-oriented ads in favor of more mainstream sponsors.
At its peak, The Advocate was being published twice a month and available at newsstands. It is now a monthly publication no longer available on newsstands but instead as a package subscription with its sister publication Out magazine.
At Thursday's celebration at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, some of the celebrities on hand talked to GSN about what the magazine has meant, and still means, to them.
'It means a lot to every gay person,' said blogger Perez Hilton. 'There aren’t that many gay publications anymore and this one was the first. It’s been around 45 years, there’s so much history there and there’s a real opportunity for the magazine to continue to not just entertain and inform, but also create change.'
Actor and comic Jason Stuart said the magazine was a real touchstone for him in his younger years.
'When I was growing up, it was my Bible,' he said. 'It was the only place we could go for art, culture, politics and cute boys. It was the first thing that we saw that made us feel like we existed. I still have a subscription – I think it’s important.'
Ross, Mathews, who hosted the evening's festivities, echoed Stuart's feelings.
'I didn’t know what it meant to be a grow-up, happy, gay successful person because it wasn’t represented in the mainstream media,' he said. 'Then you think about what it was like 45 years ago and here comes The Advocate telling those stories, trailblazing. I think it’s incredible what they have been doing.'