Washington DC: Guild Press, LTD, 1971. 17½” x 11¼”. Bifolia printed on regular paper stock. pp. 24. Near fine: folded horizontally at center as issued, fresh with minimal wear.
This is an issue of a short run gay periodical that signaled the downfall of a gay publishing empire. Its publisher, the Guild Press, was founded by H. Lynn Womack, who had turned a small printing plant purchased in 1957 into a major operation which included more than one periodical, book publishing, a chain of gay bookstores, a mail order business--even a movie theater. Womack's accomplishments were not without significant sacrifice: he was arrested more than once for conspiracy to send obscene materials through the mail and his print shop was raided by the Morals Division of the Washington police in 1960. That series of events led to a federal prison sentence, which led to the first case related to homosexuality that went to oral argument before the United States Supreme Court. Womack prevailed in MANual Enterprises v. Day, which established that erotica intended for gay males was not “obscene as a matter of
law,” a huge step forward in legal protections for gay publications.
The periodical boasted Frank Kameny as its editor-at-large and had lots of national news of interest such as the Society for Individual Rights having a car in San Francisco's Veteran's Day Parade, an article on Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the LGBTQ+ community in Greensboro, North Carolina, and much more. The paper also included opinion columns and theater and book reviews. Womack intended Gay Forum to be distributed nationally, with a West Coast representative listed and advertisements from all over the country as well. Of note is a full page street map of Washington, D.C. with around 20 gay businesses, many of which were related to the Guild Press. Also of note is the center leaf which opens fully to a spectacular poster featuring Queen Victoria and measuring 22½” x 17¼”. The poster was published by S.I.R. to promote sexually transmitted infection awareness.
Despite the well produced paper, it failed quickly due to charges against Womack and Guild Press related to the use of underage models as well as the major raids conducted by the FBI on adult bookstores in the East in April 1970. Womack was convicted and agreed to give up all his adult businesses in exchange for a reduced sentence. Guild Press went bankrupt in 1974.
We are not sure how many issues were published, but know Gay Forum ran through at least issue number five which was published in January 1972. OCLC shows ten institutions with holdings, seven of which have this particular issue.
A fine artifact of the swan song of a major LGBTQ+ publisher. Near fine. Item #4279