45 Years of Stirring the Pot

Ever since the first issue of The Advocate clandestinely rolled off the presses in 1967, the content of the magazine has engendered debate, adulation, and occasionally venom.



May 25, 1995: Many of the country’s most racist and homophobic figures would not be so bold as to do an interview with a national LGBT publication. But David Duke regularly defied most logic. A onetime member of Louisiana’s House of Representatives as well as a former Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, Duke discussed his support for an “indelible, unwashable AIDS tattoo,” placed in “the private area,” with glow-in-the-dark ink. He also stated that he did not hate gay people, but admitted opposing “the aberrant gay lifestyle.”

June 27, 1995: A post-Erotica Madonna was turning toward a softer, more buttoned-up and significantly straighter image. Part of that evolution involved her declaration that she was a straight woman with lesbian friends. “I’m not a lesbian,” she told British magazine The Face in 1994, “I love men.” That enraged Advocate editors, who named Madge the 1995 Sissy of The Year.

March 5, 1996: Texas’s Barbara Jordan, the first African-American Southern woman elected to Congress, broke numerous glass ceilings throughout her storied career, but she remained in the closet the entire time. After her death at 59, The Advocate investigated the life of Jordan and “longtime companion” Nancy Earl, discovering the former was out to her close friends.

May 17, 1997: In a story with a definitively provocative cover line, “AIDS: We Asked for It,” activist Larry Kramer turned the mirror on gay men and their responsibilities to stop the spread of the virus.

“We endlessly blame the government for its hideous response to AIDS,” the Faggots author and Gay Men’s Health Crisis founder wrote. “But we speak not one syllable about how we can repair the damage we have caused that brought about so much death in the first place.”
January 21, 1997: Perhaps one of the most colorful players to ever grace the basketball court, Dennis Rodman was not only talented but had a knack for showmanship. Rodman sat down with The Advocate and talked about being so sexually and gender-ambiguous that his on- and off-court antics were opening the door for a gay athlete to be comfortable being out.

April 13, 1999: “Barebacking.” and August 29, 2006: “Cashing in on Safe Sex”:
A new risky trend of barebacking emerged in the 1990s, with men having unprotected sex as a form of activism. Seven years later, associate news editor Sean Kennedy investigated underground, for-profit sex parties aimed at young men of color in New York City, where safe sex was either optional or discouraged.

“This is a business enterprise that’s exploiting our community and putting people at risk,” said veteran AIDS activist Phill Wilson. “They’re peddling death.”