1973 GCN Masthead

Gay Community News (GCN) was one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ weekly newspapers to grow out of the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Published from 1973 to 1999, GCN addressed a range of issues and controversies that were absent from the mainstream press and relevant to the gay, lesbian, and trans community. The paper was run by an evolving collective of staffers, members, and volunteers with a resolutely progressive and political orientation, but its coverage was inclusive of a diversity of thought and critically addressed the politics and experiences of sexuality, pornography, class, race, disability, relationships, incarceration, and parenthood.

Visualizing Gay Community News is a digital exhibit sharing archival and visual resources from GCN stewarded by The History Project, Boston’s queer community archives. The exhibit builds on a digitization project completed over the course of 2023 and 2024 with the support of the Visual Resources Association and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Together, the project and the digital exhibit seek to enhance access to Gay Community News photographs and material history and commemorate the 2023 semicentennial of the paper’s founding. This milestone was celebrated by The History Project with a series of public panels, which are also featured in this exhibit.

The GCN Photograph collection stewarded by The History Project offers visual documentation of the paper’s activities and evolution, as well as its focus: the local and national issues that were significant to the alternative gay press. Many photographs offer perspective and subjects absent, ignored, or actively repressed in mainstream news organs. Taken in aggregate, these resources illustrate a visual history of GCN, highlighting its origins in the gay liberation movement of the 1970s and its evolution over time as it engaged with issues such as incarceration and intersectionality through lesbian and gay perspectives. As an activation of these material and visual resources and an exploration of the paper’s impact, this exhibit, in support of The History Project’s community memory work, seeks to mobilize and inform LGBTQ+ activism today.

The History Project holds a complete run of Gay Community News (1973-1999), as well as the extensive Gay Community News Photograph Collection, which includes thousands of photographs documenting GCN and its coverage. Photographs are organized into several series including People, Organizations, Demonstrations, and Staff Photos. GCN issues are also available digitally through Northeastern University Library's Archives and Special Collections.


This exhibition is possible due to support from the Visual Resources Association, which made it possible for Marco Lanier to spend 200 hours working with the Gay Community News Collection. Marco would like to acknowledge the support of The History Project staff, board, and volunteers in making this exhibition possible, in particular Sam Valentine, the Director of Archives and Outreach. He also thanks Amy Hoffman, Michael Bronski, and Sherry Edwards for their time and support in identifying Gay Community News community members and Evan McGonagill for her time and suggestions. 

Marco Lanier
April 2024