Rough News—Daring Views: 1950s’ Pioneer Gay Press Journalism 
By Jim Kepner
 Reviewed by:
Rough News—Daring Views: 1950s' Pioneer Gay Press Journalism  
By Jim Kepner; Harrington Park Press; 462 pages; 1998.  

Those who think that gay liberation began with New York's Stonewall Uprising of 1969 ignore California's pre-Stonewall contributions to our community and our cause. 

From California came our most important pre-Stonewall organizations, the Mattachine Society and the Daughter of Bilitis; our first major publication, ONE Magazine; the pioneering ONE Institute of Homophile Studies; and the first major attempts to reconcile religion and homosexuality, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual and the Metropolitan Community Church. Also from California came our earliest pioneers: Harry Hay, Lisa Ben, Jose Sarria, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Dorr Legg, Don Slater, Morris Kight, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon - and Jim Kepner.  

The scope and variety of Jim Kepner's contributions to lesbians and gay men are the most extensive of any single individual, with the possible exception of Jack Nichols. As an activist, Kepner founded or led groups as diverse as ONE Incorporated; PRIDE, the activist entity that gave birth to the Advocate; and the Council on Religion and the Homophile.  

As an archivist, Kepner began the collection that later became the International Gay & Lesbian Archives. Now combined with the ONE Institute, the Archives is the largest collection of its kind.  But it is as a journalist that Kepner was best-known in our community. I first learned about Kepner when, as a newly-out 20-year old (1973), I began to read his columns in In Touch for Men.  

Kepner had no qualms about writing for a magazine that featured male nude photos, realizing that by that doing so he was reaching an audience of gay men who never read ONE or the Advocate. By that time Kepner the journalist was a seasoned veteran of over two decades. Not counting Lisa Ben's short-lived Vice Versa (1947), Kepner's career encompassed virtually the entire history of the lesbian and gay press. 

 ONE Magazine was only a year old when (April 1954) Kepner began writing for that journal, and the rest is gay history: "Until the end of 1960," Kepner recalled, "I helped edit and wrote for ONE Magazine and our membership newsletter, ONE Confidential; as well as America's first scholarly-type journal, ONE Institute Quarterly of Homophile Studies, which I conceived, designed, and edited for the first dozen issues. I've since written over 2,000 news reports, history essays, theoretical articles, speeches, a book, film and theater reviews, as well as some fiction, verse, and erotica for scores of Gay publications - including a few from Canada, Switzerland, and Denmark, and in a few books." 

 Kepner did all this for little or no money, and at a time when open expressions of homosexuality were subject to constant attacks and censorship. Those of us who write for the lesbian and gay press owe Kepner a huge debt of gratitude for helping build the trail that we now follow.  Rough News - Daring Views: 1950s' Pioneer Gay Press Journalism is a collection of articles written by Kepner during his first decade as  a journalist. Many of the articles were written by "Lyn Pedersen" and other pseudonyms, not because Kepner was in the closet but because he  didn't want his readers to know that such a large part of ONE's contents  came from the same pen.  

Unlike the members of today's National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Kepner was a talented amateur with a day  job; a fact that shows in some of his early articles. However, like many  of us in similar circumstances, Kepner grew and developed as time went  along, and his journalism generally improved. At a time when the mainstream press generally ignored the gay community - outside the  occasional arrest or police crackdown - Kepner's "Tangents" column told  its readers what was going on in the gay world, both here and abroad.  

Not having the funds to be an investigative reporter, Kepner got his facts from the mainstream media, as well as from a large network of gay  friends, correspondents, readers and activists. Much of the articles in Rough News-Daring Views deals with people, events and issues that are now dead and forgotten, and from  points of view that even Kepner is now ashamed to admit he held at the  time.  
However, as a documentary history of gay men (and sometimes lesbians) in America from 1954 to 1959, as witnessed by a talented  participant and commentator, Rough News-Daring Views is unparalleled.  

It  is interesting to read (on pages 49-55, 60, 80, 85, 94 and 116) about  Miami's less than admirable treatment of its gay citizens during that  period.  

"In Fort Lauderdale," wrote Kepner for the October-November 1957  issue of ONE, "a 16-year-old boy, described as a 'confirmed homosexual,'  was given a 15-year prison term. Son of a thrice-wed mother and a father  waiting sex-crime trial, the boy's sentence contrasted to that of a Miami  man ordered simply to move out of [the] neighborhood after molesting 3  young girls 6 times." ' 

Nuff said. Sadly, Jim Kepner passed away earlier this year, just as Rough  News-Daring Views neared publication. I hope that Harrington Park Press continued Kepner's legacy, and sees fit to publish his articles from the  sixties and seventies. Rough News-Daring Views is only the first part of  an active and productive career, one that only death could put an end to.