Looking Back

Picking up Volume I, Number One, of Just Out, (October, 1983), is like walking into an argument in progress.

“We’re back, folks!” Jay Brown announces in the very first editorial. “And we’re doing it our way.”

From the distance of 30 years, it isn’t clear who had been missing, where they had gone, whose way they had been doing it before, or even what “it” was.

However, queer Portlanders in 1983 knew that “it” was the issue of inclusion; and by the way, we never, ever called ourselves queer in those days. It was a sneering, pejorative, oppressive term, and, to this day, some elders in the community have difficulty saying it. Nowadays, the term “queer” lets us avoid the alphabet-soup LGBTQI label that never seems to fit; but in fact, in 1983 we didn’t have the alphabet soup, either. The story of Just Out began in the controversy over changing the name of 1983 Gay Pride to “1983 Lesbian & Gay Pride.”

Emotions ran high. Lesbians, and plenty of other folks, favored inclusion. The publisher of Portland’s only gay newspaper at the time, the Cascade Voice, believed that “gay” was inclusive enough. “Lesbian & Gay Pride 1983” finally won out, but two staff members at the Cascade Voice, editor Renee LaChance and assistant editor/photographer Jay Brown, felt the value conflict strongly enough to leave the Voice and start up their own newspaper. In Just Out, the two of them were indeed back – back in print, and running their own very inclusive show.

Portland watched to see if the town would support two gay newspapers – or, rather, one gay newspaper, and one lesbian and gay newspaper with regular contributions from the Black community, plus writers in Roseburg and the Klamath Basin.

Yes, Portland supported Just Out; or, more correctly, Just Out earned its place in Portland. By any measure, each of the early issues looked healthier than the one before, with more advertising, more local articles, and more engagement with the community.

The little publication overcame two potentially fatal problems during that first year. Plans for paid regional distribution fell through, and local circulation plunged when Just Out suddenly cost 25 cents per issue, possibly because people outed themselves just by buying one. Renee and Jay went back to distributing their papers for free at friendly locations. Also in the first year, the pressroom at Nickel Ads abruptly refused to print Just Out any longer, causing the young publication to miss an entire issue, and leaving the staff scrambling to locate a printer who found the content morally acceptable.

Nonetheless, at the end of the first year, in October, 1984, Just Out was up to twenty well-filled tabloid pages from the original sixteen, and looking good.

For those who were wondering, Cascade Voice printed their last issue in December 1984, changed ownership, and came back as The Eagle Newsmagazine from January through August of 1985. The City Open Press, City Week, Oregon Gay News, The Portland Monitor, and The Alternative Connection all came and went between 1985 and 1993.

Just Out continued, inclusively. Jay Brown died in 1990. In 1998, Renee sold Just Out to Marty Davis, who ran the publication until 2011 when it was acquired by its current  owners.

Just Out will honor our 30th year of publishing under this title with a new monthly column devoted to telling the stories of important historical moments. To aid us in this endeavor we will partner with the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) who house not only every Just Out issue printed since our 1983 inauguration, but many other significant bits of local LGBT history. Each month in 2013 Robin Will, GLAPN secretary and webmaster, and Just Out’s new Historian at-Large, will give us insight into an important issue from the past.

Robin Will is the third generation of his family to be born in Oregon. His great-great-grandparents were among the first members of the Aurora Colony, the Utopian commune that dissolved in 1883 to become town of Aurora, Oregon. A Portlander since 1956, Robin graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1966, with a major in Graphic Arts. He began college at Pacific University, Forest Grove, in 1966, and graduated from Portland State University in 2007. His work experience has been primarily in the field of publishing, sometimes as a writer or editor, sometimes in print production management. Currently self-employed, he writes for several Portland publications, edits newsletters for non-profits, and assists local car collectors in the areas of documentation and display in addition to working with GLAPN.

GLAPN and Just Out look forward to exploring the past together as we work up to our big 30th anniversary celebration this Fall.

Robin Will

About Robin Will

Robin Will is the third generation of his family to be born in Oregon. His great-great-grandparents were among the first members of the Aurora Colony, the Utopian commune that dissolved in 1883 to become town of Aurora, Oregon. A Portlander since 1956, Robin graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1966, with a major in Graphic Arts. He began college at Pacific University, Forest Grove, in 1966, and graduated from Portland State University in 2007. His work experience has been primarily in the field of publishing, sometimes as a writer or editor, sometimes in print production management. Currently self-employed, he writes for several Portland publications, edits newsletters for non-profits, and assists local car collectors in the areas of documentation and display in addition to working with GLAPN.

Comments

  1. ButchyWaxyCastaNasty says:

    Wouldn’t be fun to have the original Dyketones play at a Just Out 30-year bash in October?! I am game; I am the bass player/drummer on the cover (along with my comrades) of your first issue :-)

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